FARMINGTON — For 200 years, the Old South First Congregational Church has served as a welcoming home to everyone.

“No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here,” the church notes on its website.

The Rev. Alexis Fuller-Wright and the Bicentennial Committee invite the community to join them in a bicentennial celebration from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7, at the church, said Karyl Condit, a committee member.

The celebration will include history highlights and special music, including a new composition written for the occasion by Bruce McInnes and organ music by Patricia Hayden. Drumming by InnerRhythm, a recognition of former pastors and the unveiling of a bicentennial quilt made by members is also planned, she said.

Other bicentennial activities include updating a directory of members, which will include some of the church history, Peter Addicott said.

An anniversary cookbook will be available, and members will be challenged to “200 Acts of Kindness” later this fall, Condit said.

Prior to 1814, Chesterville and Farmington congregationalists joined together, forming the Chester and Farmington Church, Megan Roberts said recently while working in the church’s history room.

They met at the Center Meetinghouse, now the site of the Franklin County Courthouse.

In 1814, the Farmington congregationalists felt they were ready to stand on their own and became the First Congregational Society with a charter dated Dec. 14, 1814, she said.

There were just 12 members, but they started to grow. In 1825, they hired Isaac Rogers as the first full-time minister. In 1836, with about 150 members, they built their own meeting house on the site of the present Main Street Church. Membership grew to over 200 by the 1880s.

Tragedy struck when the church burned in Farmington’s Great Fire of 1886. The congregation persevered to rebuild the present church within two years. It was debt free when dedicated in 1888, she said.

The entire cost was about $21,500, according to the “History of Old South Church,” written by Ben and Natalie Butler.

“The congregation was forward thinking,” Roberts said. “They wanted to provide for years to come.”

Beautiful stained-glass windows for the church were given in memory of individuals, she said. A 3,000-pound bronze bell was given to the church in 1888 after the church’s first bell melted in the fire.

The church continued to grow, reaching about 400 members in the 1960s, Roberts said.

It is now very much a multi-generational church, Condit said. There’s always been a commitment to the youth of the church, which often sees 40-50 children in attendance.

A two-story addition for children’s classrooms and hiring the church’s first youth pastor, Sueli Gaewsky, made all the difference, Condit added.

Music and youth programs, along with mission programs, such as working with the sister church in Honduras, have played an important role in the church.

In recent years, the church has developed monthly community meals, offered space for the Warming Center and became involved in a variety of community-minded activities.

The Bicentennial Steering Committee includes Sherry Jenckes, Debbie Davis Robinson, Roberts and Condit, but the celebration involves the efforts of many others, Condit said.

For more information, contact the church office at 207-778-0424.

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