BANGOR, Maine — 175. That is the number of years the Essex Street Baptist Church in Bangor has been open.
Throughout the years, the church has had its ups and downs, but faithful churchgoers have kept it up and running for 175 years.
- 1845:The beginning of the Summer Street Free Will Baptist Church, which became Essex Street Baptist Church
- 1856: Work on the temple started
- 1859: The church was formally dedicated
Over the years, 30 pastors have attended to the spiritual needs of the congregation.
"Granted there are bigger churches in Bangor, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a friendlier church," said Ron Mcguire, president of the church.
One of the volunteers at the church says it's the people that have made the small church in Bangor such a unique and special place to worship.
"It has a lot to do with the community. The people are very committed to the church, through the generations I've talked to people here, so I think that's one of the strong points," said Rebecca Brogden, the church historian.
"It's the people. The church isn't really the building, the church is the people inside the building," said Mcguire.
Brogden said a church plays a vital role in a community, and the Essex Street Baptist Church has served as a source of inspiration and comfort for many families.
"It brings people together. If you have an emotional need, you can just walk in the door, and there's someone there saying, 'Hi! How are you doing?' so I think that's what has kept churches going," added Brogden.
Sunday morning, after its worship service, congregants celebrated the big anniversary with an ice cream party.
"We are having quite a celebration. There's ice cream for all after the church service," said Mcguire.
More than 30 people came to the celebration, one of them a faithful congregant for 77 years.
"My parents brought me here, in the area of 1944," said Phillip Parsons.
A resilient group of people who have, together, tackled the church's ups and downs to keep its doors open for 175 years.
"Plus this one kind of beat the Bangor fire, the great Bangor fire. It still stayed," said Mcguire.
The Essex Street Baptist Church has seen a drop in attendance over the past years. It has taken all the necessary measures to keep all of its congregants safe and return to in-person worship services.
The church and members have been active in their support of local non-profits including The Bangor Area Homeless Shelter, Sarah's House, King's Daughters, and Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, among other organizations.
To learn more about the church, call 207-942-4177.