Fundraising is underway to replace the steeples of the United Congregational Church of Harrison and North Bridgton. submitted photo

 

HARRISON — As you travel along Main Street in Harrison you will see a pretty white church with two steeples, one larger than the other. It is the United Parish– Congregational Church of Harrison and North Bridgton UCC. What you will not see is that the black shingles at the top of the steeples have been deteriorating and flaking off and inside the building there is a leak on the ceiling under the smaller steeple.

The church building was built as a Free Baptist Church in 1871 and dedicated in February 1872. The final cost was $5715 including the vestry, bell, and fixtures, but not including furnishings. It was known as “the brown church.” In the early 1920’s the Free Baptist Church joined with the local Congregational Church which was located on Front Street and known as “the white church,” and the North Bridgton Congregational Church to hire one minister. After a few years the white church was closed and Calvary Community Church was formed to welcome all denominations, abandoning the Free Baptist doctrine. The church was still yoked with the North Bridgton church. Then In the late 1970’s Calvary Community Church received several large bequests which were used to modernize the old building including steel beams in the vestry, a new oil furnace, and a new addition on the Winslow Street side which included a kitchen, Sunday school rooms, a parlor, and restrooms. A new entry way, an office for the pastor, and a paved parking lot were also added on the other side. An electric carillon was purchased at that time and it is still used at special times. In 2006 the North Bridgton Congregational Church was sold to Bridgton Academy. In 2012 we had a fire which started with a faulty dehumidifier and that led to a new kitchen and some redecoration throughout the building. In 2013 we added an accessible restroom on the first floor. In 2014 we had work done on the larger steeple which had been leaking and needed work around the bell. In 2017 we voted to become an Open and Affirming Church. We welcome people regardless of sexual orientation, race, national origin, age, mental or physical ability, because the love of Christ knows no bounds. Now is the time to bring back Mid Maine Restoration to fix the smaller steeple and shingle both of the peaks. We figure the present shingles have been up on the peaks for 80 years!

At a virtual meeting of the congregation in June it was voted to accept a bid from Mid Maine Restoration to repair the small steeple and put new shingles on the two spires. The total cost will be approximately $28,000. Although it is a large sum to spend the work needs to be done before the steeples deteriorate further, and we actually can save money by having all the work done at the same time instead of bringing the equipment back again. We are trying to be good stewards of our historical building.

The United Parish has started fund raising and we hope that some of the Advertiser Democrat readers will want to help us. We think that our church is more than a place to worship. It is a place for the community to gather for Lion’s Club dinners, Red Cross Blood Drives, AA meetings, a weekly place for people to sew quilts for the Barbara Bush Hospital, and for our famous church breakfasts. In the past Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts used our building and maybe they will want to return. We have set up a GoFundMe fund on Facebook. It can be accessed by going to the search field at the top left corner. Enter United Parish Steeple Restoration Fund or we also will be happy to accept checks sent directly to the United Parish, PO Box 95, Harrison, ME 04040. What we always say is that if everyone gives “a little bit” we will have a lot. We have already collected almost $5,000 so we are well on our way. Thank you for any help you can give.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: