JAY — A  group of volunteers from across the United States will come to Jay in June to raise a new church in an “old-time barn-raising.”

With the help of Mobile Baptist Builders and other missionaries, Bean’s Corner Baptist Church is moving forward with plans to build a new sanctuary this summer. The 50- by 120-foot structure will go up in a week. 

A crew of over 100 is expected the week of June 9. A smaller crew will come earlier to cut and prepare everything for assembling, and other crews will arrive later for finish work on the inside.

Bean’s Corner Baptist Church, near the intersection of Routes 133 and 156, has seen steady growth over the past 10 years. But it really started taking off over the past four or five years, according to the pastor, the Rev. Ira Hall, who wants to be called Ira.

When the church exceeded its capacity of 150, it went to two Sunday services this past fall, at 8 and 10:30 a.m.   

“We’re constantly seeing new people, but some say they came and couldn’t find a seat because it was too crowded or there was no place to park,” Hall said.

Advertisement

While many churches struggle to maintain membership or have an aging congregation, Bean’s Corner averages about 180 to over 200 a week, up from 85-115 attending in 2006.

The congregation includes all age groups, but the two larger include members over 60 and 25- to 35-year-olds. There are over 40 children under the age of 12 who participate in the church, Hall said.

“There’s no room to invite people to come,” said Beth Hoyt, church secretary.  “But, it is a good problem to have.”

The congregation has prayed for and donated to a building project for about 15 years. A design was started in 2005, but estimated costs caused members to break it into phases, Hoyt said.

A much-needed education wing was built in 2009 to accommodate Sunday school classes.

Seeing the need, Keith Lawrence of Farmington Baptist Church suggested the Southern Baptists might consider helping the Maine denomination of Conservative Baptists, Hall said. 

Advertisement

The builders, based in Mobile, Alabama, donate their labor and travel expenses. The crew of Christians, from a variety of professions, volunteer their time to construct buildings for other congregations.

The Mobile Baptist Builders helped build the Western Mountain Baptist Church on Route 27 in New Portland in 2011. The congregation met for years at Kingfield Elementary School.

Mobile Baptist Builders also helped construct Farmington Baptist Church on the Whittier Road a few years earlier.

Some Mobile Builders volunteers cook meals at the construction site. During the week, a worship service is held each evening. The community is invited.

The new sanctuary is estimated to cost nearly $500,000.

It would be double that if the church also had to pay for labor, Hall said. The church does not take loans.

Advertisement

The host church provides some sleeping arrangements for the crew and church members volunteers to do what they can.

Bean’s Corner member Craig Boone, previously an engineer with Bunker and Savage in Augusta, is the project manager. 

Member Jack Mills, who does excavation work, started the groundwork last fall. Volunteers helped prepare the foundation site.

For Hall, the focus is in on presenting the Word every week in a practical, down-to-earth way.

“It is easy to be nice for an hour on Sunday, but how do we live that life on Tuesday?” he asked.

The pastor’s role is to equip others to do the ministry and empower them to do the work, he said. He believes in putting people in a position and letting them run with the job.

Advertisement

Although an ordained minister, Hall, 47, says he is one of the congregation. His role is to speak the message every week, he said.

He tells children that they are “not the church of the future but they are the church now,” he said. 

Anyone who would like to help the church with housing or donations may contact Hoyt at 645-2925.

[email protected]                                                              

An artist’s rendering of the new Bean’s Corner Baptist Church in Jay is at left, with the existing church at right. A wing of classrooms built in 2009 connects the buildings.

The pastor of Bean’s Corner Baptist Church in Jay, the Rev. Ira Hall, 47, talks about construction of a new church this summer to accommodate the large congregation.

The pastor of Bean’s Corner Baptist Church in Jay, the Rev. Ira Hall, 47, talks about construction of a new church this summer to accommodate the large congregation.

The pastor of Bean’s Corner Baptist Church in Jay, the Rev. Ira Hall, 47, talks about construction of a new church this summer to accommodate the large congregation.

Comments are not available on this story.