On the eighth of November in the year 1800, the Congregational Church was organized. The church in the photo below was built in 1831 and still stands near the center of town. The following names were listed as subscribers to the Covenant:
Before a minister was called and settled, Reverend Daniel Gould of
As soon as the church was organized, Deacons' Meetings were regularly held. These meetings were opened with a short prayer by the senior deacon. The junior deacon followed by naming a hymn to be sung. The senior deacon then made a longer prayer, and the junior deacon named a second hymn. That having been sung, some person from the congregation was called on to read the sermon, selected usually from a volume of "Blair's Sermons." The benediction, pronounced by the junior deacon, was the signal that the services were at an end.
These Deacons' Meetings were continued until the settlement, in 1805, of
Reverend John Strickland as
Rev. Daniel Gould, pastor of the church in Bethel; Rev. Church, pastor of the church in Bridgton; Rev. Lincoln Ripley, pastor of the church in Waterford; Rev. Amasa Smith of Turner; and Rev. Herrick from Durham. The records do not tell how the invitations were carried nor how the visiting ministers got to town, although it was probable that they rode on horseback or came by river boat. The principle services of installation were performed by Rev. Herrick.
The cash salary of the first parson, Rev. Strickland, was provided by a tax levied for such purposes on each man in town. The largest sum paid ($12.72) was by Ezekiel Merrill, and the lowest paid by Calvin Wood 19 cents). The number of persons assessed was 46 that first year of having a hired parson to minister to this tiny town. The pay originally agreed-upon was continued the same, until 1815, when it was decreased to one hundred dollars annually. Rev. Strickland remonstrated but in the end he continued as minister until August 3, 1820. He still did not leave town and finally died in a small house near Abbott Brook.
On the twenty-first of January, 1822, a Parish was formed by subscription of the citizens to an agreement which is duly recorded. By this agreement, originally signed by thirty-three members, the basis was laid for the Parish which continued until 1840.
Soon after 1822, a considerable number of additional persons subscribed and an Association was formed, namely the church Parish, which was to have charge of its money matters formerly taken care of by the town.
Councils were called to perform the ceremonies of ordination and installation. The Council was called in 1824 for the settlement of Rev. Thomas T. Stone, the successor to Rev. John Strickland. Mr. Stone was to receive three hundred dollars, half to be paid in cash and half in labor and produce.
When, in 1831, the next minister was called, only about two hundred dollars
was raised by subscription, to which was added about two hundred dollars ($200)
in aid from the home missionary societies of
The people of
It is interesting to note that the religious meetings of the town were held, for nearly thirty years, in a 15 x 30 foot schoolhouse erected in 1801 by the proprietors of the town. This church and school building was located on a small rise opposite the village cemetery and a bit to the south of the so-called Sylvanus Poor Homestead.
The entrance was at the south end, the pulpit stood at the north end and the fireplace, which was the only source of heat, was in the northwest. The pulpit was raised about four or five feet from the floor. In front of it were enclosed seats for the deacons, thus the name "deacon's bench." There were no pews, only seats on either side of the center aisle. Seating was always governed by a strict rule -- women on one side, men on the other, with the deacons in their special enclosure. The order of seating was strictly adhered to: the elderly sat nearest the front, followed in order of age, until the youngest were at the very back. At the side where the young boys sat, an orderly stood with a symbol of absolute control in his hand at all times. The same rules held for leaving the church after the service -- the minister, the deacons, the elderly, and so on down until the house was cleared. No greater breach of decorum could be committed than for a person to leave his seat, except in the prescribed manner.
For a period of time, there was a Union Meeting House in South Andover on the rise of land across from what became the South Andover Post Office and General Store, now a family' home. As its name implies, the Union Meeting House was used by people of all faiths, sometimes meeting all together or sometimes holding separate meetings. This reflected the divisions which were to come in later years.
Records during the time the church building, now in use, was being built are scanty. It seems that some book (or books) became lost, or else people were too busy to write it all down. They should have, for the books record when and where they met and chose officers, but they do not tell about planning the building. In an old book that once belonged to Edmond Bailey there is some information as follows:
Ezekiel Merrill, son of Ezekiel (Merrill) bought lot 16 R1Ws (Lot 16, Range
1, West side) where
On February 5 of that year, it was voted that this Church hold their meetings on the Sabbath in the future, at the new meeting house at the Corner, as the Village was always called in those days.
It is not uncommon, in the old record books, to find a meeting called for the express purpose of "suspending" some offender who had not lived up to the Church rules.
In the back of the old cowhide record book, there is an itemized account of the cost to remodel this church building in the year 1863. The total cost was $2,233.53, exclusive of donations of money and labor.
Every eight or ten years, throughout the years, the meeting house has been
repaired, remodeled, or redecorated. Once or twice, only half the roof has been
shingled. Sometimes, the horse sheds that extended to within five or six feet
of the Hook and
In 1891, pew owners' meetings were being held. Those pews originally put in were evidently not too good, although they were bought and assigned a place in the meeting house. There was a vote to purchase new pews on December 19, 1896, and to have them installed, these to be paid for by the sale of the old pews and by subscription. A committee elected to attend to this consisted of: Stephen Cabot, D. W. Barnes, Charles Andrews, R. L. Melcher and Fred Smith. It was also voted to transfer pew locations as follows: number 54 to R. A. Grover, number 52 to C. P. Kimball, number 34 to M. H. Elliot, number 35 to J. K. Hewey, and number 55 to J. H. Bailey. This was conditional on their putting new pews on the same location at their own expense, and that those named be given a deed to the same when the conditions were complied with.
These affairs pertaining to money were looked after by the Parish. At this same meeting, there was a vote to accept to offer of William Cushman to install the platform railing. This is a beautiful railing with posts at either side, made flat to hold a plant or a container of flowers. In recent times (1977), new cloth was put in back of the railing and new carpeting on the platforms, both upper and lower. The choir sat in the back choir loft originally, then in the center stage behind the railing, but is currently enjoying seats to the right of the minister on a new lower platform.
The original bell was cracked while being installed, and was put out on the Village Common, part of the church property. The present bell was hung in the belfry in 1881. At some previous time, it had been voted to accept the offer of "The Kings' Daughters," a group of women (mostly Universalists) who worked for the good of the town, to place a clock in the church belfry, but happily it was finally installed across the way in the cupola of the town hall. Mr. Arthur Lang was delegated to take care of the clock.
During the big gale of November 12-13, 1883, the weathervane on the church steeple was badly bent and twisted. Charles Andrews climbed up and cut it off on April 1, 1885.
The First Congregational Church of Andover celebrated its one hundredth anniversary on August 4-5, 1900, with appropriate exercises. The services were described and a program and poem are included in the records of the old cowhide record book, now kept in the safe belonging to the church clerk. This valuable record book is much too large to go into a regular bank safe deposit box maintained by the church.
Early in the century, many of the boys of the town were active in an order
called the Knights of King Arthur (or K OKers, as the boys nicknamed
themselves). This organization was under the expert leadership of Marshall
Howard and the minister. Later a branch of an organization which had originated
During the summer of 1914, Rev, George Graham, church pastor, solicited funds to procure an individual communion service, and William Cushman, a town cabinet maker, constructed a fine chest for its safekeeping. The formerly-used pitcher and two silver cups, a "bequeathment to the Church of Christ in East Andover (Massachusetts)" on October 5, 1806 by the will of John Rice (son of Amos Rice), had been in continuous use. The silver pitcher and the above-mentioned two solid silver cups are preserved in a cabinet built for their safe-keeping, attached to the back wall at the left side of the door.
The church was wired for electricity in the week of May 12, 1914. Rev. Mr.
Graham and Mr. Pulman were instrumental in doing the work for the Delco system
which was being installed, and electric lights would replace the kerosene lamps
and candles. Also during Mr. Graham's pastorale, on May 25-26, 1916, a
pipe-organ was installed in the front of the sanctuary, one-half being paid for
by subscription (mostly from former residents), the other half by Mr. Carnegie.
The organists have been: Gladys (Howard) Abbott, Hazel (Mills) Fox, Ivy
Thurston, Stanley Fox, Helen (Lang) Deanis, Mary Agnes (McNeil) Walton, and, at
the time of this writing, Linda Burnham of
Hyland Reed painted the pipe organ pipes in 1954 and that was the only time that they have ever been done since the organ was installed. He took them down and carried them over to his home which was near-by. He personally mixed the paint to match the original shade.
In the summer and fall of 1916, the church was painted inside and out, and a new floor of hardwood was laid. A new wood-burning furnace was placed in the basement. It is no wonder that Mr. Graham is remembered as "a hustler," for he surely knew how to get his people to pull together to get things done in an efficient and harmonious manner.
There were no Church services held during the month of October, 1918, on account of the influenza epidemic.
For three weeks, beginning April 12, 1921, Miss Frances B. Adams, an evangelist, held evening meetings. Marie (Elliot) Lang recounts, "All I remember is that there was a large attendance each night, and she insisted everyone close their eyes and keep them closed during the prayer."
Throughout these many years, a Parish existed to take charge of money matters, with the church to take care of religious matters. Finally, at the annual church meeting in 1923, it was voted to elect a committee to confer with a parish committee in regard to joining these under one organization. However, it was not until 1940 that the church and Parish became one organization with budget and finance committees to take care of what the Parish had been doing.
Rev. Roundy, the Congregational minister who had come up from
A meeting was called on April 13, 1930, to elect a clerk to succeed John L. Bailey. Mr. Bailey had served in that capacity since November, 1855 -- forty-five consecutive years of service to the Church he loved so dearly. Mr. Bailey died on February 11, 1930 and his daughter, Sadie, was elected the new clerk.
From May, 1916, until April 3, 1932, the pipe-organ was pumped by hand by a man or boy standing inside the left-hand organ door pumping a handle up and down. The power blower, which had been installed the previous week, was a joy to all concerned that April day.
The first choir robes were black and white and had been made with loving
care, by the members of the Ladies Aid and the choir. In 1977, these robes were
given to the
The Ladies Aid had restrooms installed in the church in 1952. The church had
been redecorated in 1932 and again in 1945, but
On June 14, 1958, the church steeple blew off! It was replaced in September of that same year.
A firm railing was put on either side of the front steps in 1960, a need that should have been met years before.
Before the hardwood floor was laid in the sanctuary (in 1916), the floor had been carpeted. Soon thereafter, the thrifty parishioners sent the old carpet to a mill that reworked it into nice looking runners for the middle and side aisles. Some of the carpeting not needed for runners was made into scatter rugs which were quickly sold to members of the community. The reworked runners lasted until 1961, when the church members bought new ones at the time another redecorating was taking place. That same year, the meeting house steeple was lighted, thus becoming a thing of beauty by day and night. It was also decided at about this same time, to have greeters at the door every Sunday morning.
For years, Bessie Gregg had furnished flowers and placed them in the church
each Sunday. When she could no longer manage it alone, Marie Lang became her
helper. After Miss Gregg went to
In 1962 the first committee was established to look into the ideas, which had been entertained for some years, of building an addition onto the meeting house. This addition would accommodate the Sunday School classes in separate rooms and would provide a dining room, kitchen, and separate restrooms. The committee consisted of the trustees, plus Russell Wentzell, Roger Mills, Harold Falkenham, Anne Fox, and Marie Lang. Later Thomas Palmetier, Lester Farrington, Warren Percival, Clarence Bailey, and William Crooker were added to that committee. Even with the addition of these new committee members, the group did not get up the courage to go ahead until several years later, when Rev. Carl Kingsbury got behind the project.
On June 23, 1963, it was voted not to accept the
When Rumford Point finished their new parsonage, members of the
During the late 1950's and early 1960's, the First Congregational Church had
a fine children's choir under the direction of Mrs. Doris French and Mrs.
Barbara Richardson. With about 23 children singing at least once a month, choir
robes were bought for the choir members to wear. There is a picture of this
group hanging in the
At a meeting on April 19, 1964, with a large number of church members and
friends of the church in attendance, Rev. Nathanial Pearson expressed the
opinion that the dissension which was evident in the church was denominational
-- that is, "Four C's or Conservative Congregational Christian Conference
versus the United Church of Christ. The
After this upset, it was soon arranged that the First Congregational Church would go forward with the help of Rev. Carl Kingsbury, the minister at Rumford Point. This worked out very well. Being near-neighbors, we could combine Lenten Services, hymn sings, the Men's Club, and many other interesting fellowships.
At a duly called meeting on October 10, 1966, Rev. William Thompson, a minister from the Maine Congregational Christian Conference, came and discussed the subject of joining with the United Church of Christ. After questions and answers and a thorough discussion, it was voted that the First Congregational Church of Andover would join the newly-formed U.C.C. The United Church of Christ was chiefly a merger of the Congregational Churches and the Reformed Churches. We have been very glad to be a part of this on-going larger group, and have not found that we are required to change or even to agree with everything the National Conference of the U.C.C. votes to accept. We can still choose our ministers and make and abide by our own constitution and by-laws.
1966 was an eventful year for the First Congregational Church. On December 27, the first oil burner was installed, converting the wood furnace to burn fuel oil. Until that time, most of the wood had been donated.
For many years the church was governed by the original covenant. At an
unknown early date in time, a constitution and by-laws began to be used, the
church clerk having the only copy. New by-laws were drawn up and accepted in
1966, when the church finally became incorporated on April 5. These records are
on pages 1-4, and on page 5 is a copy like the one recorded at the Office of
the Secretary of State of Maine,
A new building committee consisting of Merton Fox, Roger Mills, Sr., Ira Bodwell, Raymond Akers, and Lester Farrington went into action with the inspirational help of Rev. Carl Kingsbury and Rev. Robert Hotelling of the Maine Conference. On April 27, 1966, some plans presented by the committee were given an okay, and ten members were named to a finance committee for raising the necessary funds. Everyone was happily surprised to find so many interested friends sending in donations for the project.
The building soon went forward under the expert direction of carpenter
Robert Silver, with help from many who were willing and able. The names of
these helpers and donors are recorded by the building treasurer, Anne Fox. The
letters sent to people all over the United States promised that names of donors
would be put on one plaque; however, this has not yet been done, so it may be
that there are just so many that an entire book will be needed, and such a book
could be put on display in a proper place in the church. When the
The parsonage is cared for by the Ladies Aid of the church. They hold food sales, a birthday supper, and two country church fairs, besides carrying on various other projects that enable them to keep the parsonage in repair and help pay the minister.
The deed to the parsonage is in the safe deposit box in the Maine National Bank at Rumford. The deed is under the care of the church treasurer. The parsonage was given to the First Congregational Church on September 21, 1871, by Elbridge Poor.
In the late 1960's, the church found it necessary to accept help in paying the minister's salary from the Maine Conference. At this same time (in 1968), when the treasury was "in the red," the organ needed about seven hundred ($700) dollars' worth of repairs. The Ladies Aid paid about one-quarter of this amount, with donations being generously made for the remainder of the cost of repairing the organ. A public recital followed the completion of the work on the organ.
On October 30, 1969, a retirement party was held for Rev. and Mrs. Carl Kingsbury. The program followed the usual order of worship that morning, but there were additional bits of humor contributed by members of the congregation. The presentation of gifts took the place of the regular offering; a poem about fishing became the responsive reading; but there was no joking about the "goodies" enjoyed during the social hour following the service.
Once more being a single pastorale, the church was granted more help by the Maine Conference on the pastor's salary, in the amount of seven hundred dollars ($700). The church voted to have new lighting and wiring in the sanctuary on October 13, 1970, using money that had been given in 1968. The project was completed in 1972.
In addition to the Sunday School, the church sponsors scouting for the boys
and girls of
The church now has a record book given in memory of Elsie Dresser, in which are listed gifts and money donated in memory of deceased residents and members of the church.
Beginning in 1970, the church had the first of several student ministers.
Jay and Leslie Cummings spent week-ends and school vacations in
The First Congregational Church soon had a second ordination, for on November
4, 1973 the new pastor, Rev. David Kieth Norrie, was ordained into the
Christian ministry in
Rev. David Norrie was replaced on September 29, 1974, by another student from the Bangor Theological Seminary. James Bosworth, his wife Ginny, and their three children enjoyed the parsonage (but hated the plumbing!)
Finally, in April, 1977, the treasurer reported receipt of the full five
thousand dollars ($5,000) left to the church by the will of Mr. Adams of
It was April 18, 1975 when a committee was nominated to review the by-laws. Members of the committee were: Shirley Fifield, Thelma Clark, and Gertrude Percival. This committee drew up new by-laws which, after a few changes had been made, were accepted on July 14, 1975.
Beginning when Rev. Carl Kingsbury was serving as pastor, the church had
celebrated Old Home Sunday. On June 17, 1975, it was extra-special, for it was
held in conjunction with Heritage Days and many attended in old-time costumes,
including Rev. James Bosworth who preached the historic sermon of Jonathan
Edwards. The old-time collection bags made of green velvet, at the end of long
varnished poles, were used. This special service was again held in 1976 but the
First Congregational Church was without a regular pastor. Former ministers were
able to be in
When the Grange was disbanded, it gave the church three hundred dollars.
At the present, in 1978, there is again a full-time pastor at the First
Congregational Church, although Rev. David Wuori also serves as pastor to the
Union Church at Locke Mills. The Wuori family lives at the
The church newsletter, suggested by Rev. Wuori and gotten out by the joint effort of members of both churches he serves; makes for a fine community and inter-church relationship. The newsletter committee consists of: Evelyn Bell, Bette Britt, Ann Marie Summerton, Larry White, and Florence Kraft. These people work with Mr. Wuori, Sunday School Superintendent Eleanor Tracy, and other committee members to cover the activities of the First Congregational Church.
In the spring of 1978 it was voted to carpet the C.E.B. dining room floor and to re-do the kitchen, restroom floors, and the stairways.
One hundred seventy-nine years and four denominations in
Source: Church Records.
1976 – Reverend David Wuori is pastor.
1981 – Rev. Wuori resigns. Norm Rust is interim pastor.
1983 – Reverend Mariotte Churchill is called.
1991 – Reverend Churchill resigns. Jane Rich agrees to lead Church for six months.
1992 – Jane Rich agrees to one-year contract. Old Communion service is used.
1993 – Jane takes two-year contract. Steeple blows off Church and is replaced.
Jane enters Bangor Seminary
1999 – Jane graduates from Bangor Seminary
2000 – April 9th, Jane Rich is ordained in the Church. Chuck Cornwell writes a
Benediction for this occasion and the Church decides to continue its use.
August 2000 is 200th anniversary celebration of the Church with past Pastors Lynwood Potter, David Wuori, Norman Rust, and Mariotte Churchill attending a special service. Rev. Jean Alexander attends and represents the Maine Conference. Gerry Michaud creates a float for the Church for the Andover Olde Homes Day parade.
2001 – Sunday School creates the
2004 – Sunday School disbanded for lack of students and teachers. Church focus is now on Adult Education.
2006 – Membership rolls stand at 97. Average attendance is 30-35.
Copyright 1998 by Robert A. Spidell, All Rights Reserved