PARIS — A decision on whether or not to place a non-profit organization in charge of the First Baptist Church of Paris will rest with voters at a future town meeting, according to Town Manager Dawn Noyes.

The First Baptist Church of Paris Submitted photo

The First Baptist Church of Paris, established in the late 18th century at 500 Paris Hill Road, is still used today and has been maintained over the last 40 years by the non-profit organization Friends of the First Baptist Church of Paris.

Noyes said Wednesday that during Monday evening’s board meeting, the Friends of the First Baptist Church requested that the board allow the non-profit to “take over the church and all of its contents.”

The problem with the request, Noyes said, is that the town owns the clock and bell that make up part of the church.

Noyes said that the selectmen learned during Monday’s meeting that the clock was built using county funds and money raised by Paris residents at a previous town meeting.

The bell was donated to the town by Vice President Hannibal Hamlin in 1883, Noyes said.

“We had the history books and old town meeting warrants out and learned that the clock and bell belong to the residents,” Noyes said. “That means it’s up to the residents to decide what happens with it.”

Noyes said that the Paris board expressed interest in allowing the non-profit to take over the church if they “wrote into its bylaws that the church would return to the town if something were to happen to them.”

“Right now, if something were to happen with the organization, the church, along with the bell and clock, would be awarded to the state,” Noyes explained. “Who knows where the bell or clock would end up if that were to happen.”

Noyes said that she is looking to schedule a special town meeting “some time in October” for residents to decide on whether to allow the non-profit to take over the church.

“The board has no problem with it and would’ve voted on it, if they were allowed,” Noyes said. “However, it has to be decided by the people.”


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