In September 1955, a group of about twenty people met at the Cupsuptic Campground to form a Protestant church to be located in Rangeley village and be of the Congregational denomination. By February 19, 1956, designated as Charter Membership Day, ninety-nine people had chosen to unite with this new ministry.
Prior to purchasing the Oakes’ property on Pleasant Street, they worshipped in homes, in the Rangeley Lodge Hall, and in the High School. Once in their own building, they redesigned the first floor for use as a worship center while the upstairs became an apartment for the minister.
Mortgage free in 1960, members forged ahead to acquire sufficient funds to build their dream, a white church to be located in the adjacent garden. Members prudently managed the church moneys raised through their stewardship, gifts and memorials, which was increased by the sale of the original church home. A very active Ladies Parish Circle, which later became The Women’s Fellowship Circle, held bake sales, rummage sales and public suppers.
In 1978, the prefabricated shell was erected to be completed by parish members and friends. The rock maple pews first seated Roman Catholic worshippers in Chisholm, and the bell and the antique weathervane were acquired when the local elementary school was demolished. The sanctuary was enhanced by the gift of a stained glass window, created by Gene and Nancy Gay Cottrell to honor her father, Dr. Roger Gay – the pastor at the time. On September 9, 1979, in ecumenical cooperation, pastors of many neighboring churches came together to dedicate the sanctuary.
In 1984, the adjacent property, now the Annex and Barn, was gifted to the church, opening a new era of growth. Remodeled, the annex came to be used first for the minister’s housing, then as an office and meeting rooms, and now as Little Mountain School.
In 1994, prompted by a new Mission Statement, members felt the need to broaden the mission of the church. To this end, a Capital Campaign was successfully undertaken providing funds to remodel the Barn. Once again, volunteer labor, combined with the generosity of local contractors, saw this project to completion. On August 6, 1995, as part of the 40th Anniversary Celebration, The Barn was dedicated for use as a multipurpose community building.
In 2010, Rangeley Congregational Church voted to be an ‘Open and Affirming’ congregation. Open and Affirming is the way many in the United Church of Christ (UCC) declare welcome and inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons into the full life and ministry of the church. The message of love and compassion, justice and peace are at the very core of the life and ministry of Jesus. Open and Affirming ministries and resources are rooted in that Gospel message. The testimonies of these ministries proclaim the truth of God’s power to transform cultures of hate and violence into communities of healing and reconciliation. They give witness to God’s continuing testament and how the gifts of God are being liberated for service in the world.
Our caring Christian community celebrated its 60th anniversary last year. The faith and dedication of many people over these sixty years is evident in our facilities and in the way the Spirit of the Lord has been working in our midst. We pray that God will bless what we have begun in order that Christ’s work may continue to flourish.
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