Katrina Dupont, left and her mother, Linda Pothier, both of West Paris, fly down the hill on an inner tube. Rose Lincoln

Parishoner Gary Okenquist of Bethel went down on his Radio Flyer that he has had since he was a child. Rose Lincoln

Pastor Mace Wilder and his wife, Kortney Wilder (pictured, standing) hosted a sledding party on a hill near town office. Rose Lincoln

Hunter Lord, 3, of West Paris, wears a hot chocolate mustache. Rose Lincoln

Pastor Mace and Kortney Wilder hosted a sledding party on a hill near town office. Rose Lincoln

WEST PARIS — Pastor Mace Wilder, 27 and his wife, Kortney, 26, of West Paris Baptist Church are new in town and ready to make a difference, but first they had a sledding party to host.

About 30 people came out on Saturday, March 11 to take a turn on the sledding hill. Music boomed from a speaker at the base. Sleds ranging from a 60-year-old radio flyer to a ski-do inflatable were up for grabs. after an hour or so, everyone came together under a wooden pavilion to drink hot chocolate and receive a prize.

Katrina Dupont, who came with her mother and three children, offered a parent’s view of Pastor Mace and his impact in her family’s life. She said her two oldest go to church and specifically the children’s service on Sundays.

“My son (age 13) has taken a liking to him particularly. My son has been getting bullied through school. The pastor has helped him try to figure out what way to go. He has brought excitement back to my son after a really dark time… It gave him a light at the end of the tunnel… That’s part of why we are here today. He loves it so much.”

Said Mace during an earlier interview at church, “There are a lot of people hurting. There’s an absence of people around my age or even under 40 [at church gatherings]. If it’s not an event for kids, they don’t come out in public. I think most people live their lives inside on the internet.”

He plans to try to reach people on the internet but also at church where they offer many opportunities. On Sundays the Worship & Kids Sunday Service is at 9:45 am. At the “after fellowship” they talk with parishioners about the message of the gospel and serve refreshments. Adult Sunday School is at 11:15 a.m. on Tuesdays and Men’s Fellowship is at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesdays. Wilder preaches at the Veteran’s Administration home on High Street in Paris every other Sunday, too.


“Kortney is a very gifted teacher. She leads ladies’ Bible studies and ladies’ teas,” said Mace.

“How to reach out to families, how to show them love and how to provide a safe outlet for the kids is our main mission as Christians. Sharing the Gospel is part of everything we do. But anybody is always welcome to come,” said Wilder.

On a recent Tuesday, a group of volunteers were laughing and joking in Fellowship Hall, in the basement of the church. The group distributes food to 10-25 needy families on the first Tuesday of every month. The food pantry began before the Wilders arrived, and continues with their leadership. As they handed out fresh fruit and non-perishables, one volunteer said, “She’s our ringleader.” referring to Kortney. “She may be an extension of myself and the better part of myself.” Mace Wilder adds.

On a tour of the church is Wilder’s first floor office, full of books and a small sign that says, “pray more, worry less.”

In another room, they plan to set up a nursery school, he said. On the way to the sanctuary is a hallway turned into a library.  A  parishioner stocked the shelves with various religious publications.

The congregation participated in Operation Christmas’ Child’s Shoebox Ministry in December, sending shoeboxes  filled with toys and gifts to children abroad. When the youngsters receive the shoebox they also hear about Jesus, explained Wilder.


Mace grew up in Alabama and Kortney in Florida. They both attended Word of Life Bible Institute. The school is nicknamed,  “Word of Life Bridal Institute,” jokes Mace, because so many men and women, like the Wilders, meet while studying together and were later married.

Following graduation from the Bible institute, Mace and Kortney lived and worked in Springfield, Maine, with a population of 400 people. He was an intern at Springfield Community Chapel.

They arrived in West Paris during COVID in May of 2020. “I’m with a mission that supplies pastors to churches that can’t afford them. This church was struggling,” said Mace.

The parish of 15-16 families had been without a pastor for at a year or more. “The health of this church…When I see that they [the parishioners] have been cared for and that they are mature in their faith. I attribute that to one man, Bruce Tyner. I consider him like a co-pastor,” said Mace. Tyner had been pastor at West Paris Baptist 10 years ago for about 10 years.

Wilder said future projects he’d like to tackle are coordinating transportation for the elderly and organizing a place for children and teens to congregate.

“There’s another thing that burdens my heart for this community and that’s counseling,” said Wilder.


He has heard that people have to go all the way to Portland for psychological counseling and of others that are kept on long waiting lists.  Wilder is taking counseling classes but, “is not there yet.”

Having administered pastoral counseling to people in the past, he has seen their lives change for the better. “When people give their heart to Christ it doesn’t change their outlook on eternity it changes the trajectory of their current life,” he said.

Regarding his and Kortney’s tenure in West Paris, he said, “We could be here for many years, being so young. Lots to learn and lots of room to grow.”



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