PARIS – Centennial services at the First Universalist Church of South Paris celebrated the 100th birthday of the Universalist Meetinghouse on Pine Street.

Organized as a parish in 1902 at a meeting in the old Fire Engine House in the schoolyard on East Main Street, the congregation moved into the lower part of the new church building in 1903 and held its formal dedication in the newly completed sanctuary in 1904. At that time nine ministers spoke at afternoon and evening special services with about 600 persons attending the evening ceremony.

One hundred years later, in 2004, the celebratory weekend included an old-fashioned supper in Good Cheer Hall on Saturday night followed by a church historical presentation by Barbara Swan Frost in the upstairs sanctuary.

The formal service was held Sunday afternoon with the Rev. Dr. Carl Scovel, minister emeritus of King’s Chapel, Boston, officiating. Other participating ministers and lay speakers were the Rev. Dr. Janet Bowering of the New Massachusetts Universalist Convention, the Rev. Dr. Robert Sallies, a former minister of the church, Marilyn Hammond, Shirley Miller and Silver Moore-Leaman.

Special music arranged by Forest Perkins, church music director and organist, began with a mini-organ concert featuring favorite voluntaries and closing with Purcell’s “Trumpet Tune.”

Other music included a selection by the choir, “Day of Promise,” Charles MacDermid’s “Greater Love Hath No Man” sung by Christine Walker, an organ and flute duet, “Amazing Grace,” with Renee Wales, and old Universalist hymn solos by Jeanne Byers and Scovel.

The service ended with congregation singing a special hymn written 100 years ago for the 1904 dedication ceremony by the church’s first minister, the Rev. James Little.

Other musical events of the celebratory year have been a George Bozeman concert and two summer concerts arranged by Perkins. All events featured music of the church’s preserved historic M. P. Moller pipe organ, which was installed in 1912.


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