HARRISON – Over the past five years the Calvary Community Church, United Church of Christ, and the North Bridgton Congregational Church, UCC, have been discussing the possibility of becoming one congregation to better serve the needs of their members, the two churches and the community. As of Jan. 1, it became a reality.

The two churches joined as one united congregation as the United Parish of Harrison and North Bridgton. While the two churches shared ministers and several joint committees for many years, their unification is a united parish with two church buildings.

As with many rural community churches, the United Parish is facing challenges with a lack of community involvement and support and financial concerns despite dedicated church members and friends.

The minister and members are involved in visiting the sick and shut-ins at home, in nursing homes and at hospitals. The minister also does counseling, is a volunteer chaplain in nursing homes and hospitals, is a member of the Harrison Lions and the Christmas in Harrison Committee and participates in numerous UCC groups.

The congregation brings donations once a month for the local food pantry. For the past two years, it has provided 50 food baskets to needy families in the community at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Each Christmas, the Sunday school visits shut-ins, sings Christmas carols and delivers a bag of goodies. For many years on Halloween, a Harvest Party has been sponsored for the community children to raise funds for UNICEF.

The United Parish congregation and committees, such as Missions and Social Concerns, the deacons and the Women’s Fellowship and Ladies Circle, support many local community groups and national organizations, some UCC affiliated. They include the CROP Walk, Blanket Fund, One Great Hour of Sharing, Heifer Project, Church World Service, school and health kits, area shelters and prisons. Funds are also given to community members in need and to visitors passing through who find themselves in an emergency situation.

Many local organizations also the buildings, such as the Girl and Boy Scouts, Brownies, TOPS, Lions, Oxford County Fair, Harrison Village Library, Christmas for Kids, Harrison Recreation Program, Red Cross, summer school, private tutoring and individual functions, most using it for little or no fee.

The United Parish goal is to reach out to the community and invite them to meet members and friends and visit the faith congregation for worship and fellowship.

Members meet in both churches, and for November and December, worship and Sunday school will be in North Bridgton at 10 a.m. Those wishing more information can call the Rev. Diana Benjamin at 583-4840 or e-mail [email protected]

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