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History of First Baptist Church in Westbrook

First Baptist Church was founded by a group of people from Scotland on October 25, 1888.  They began by holding Sunday School in their homes, then moved to the Grand Old Army Hall on Bridge Street in downtown Westbrook.  At the time many of these folk were attending the Free Street Baptist Church in Portland where Pastor A.T. Dunn was serving.  He, however, devoted some of his time to the Saccarappa work (Westbrook) and baptized many converts in the Presumscot River.  It wasn't long before the group grew large enough to want their own church and soon property was acquired (our present site) and building and developing began.

In the 1890's the church fell upon hard times with the shutting down of the Gingham Mills.  Many of the active members moved to other places for employment and for several years it was a severe trial to hold regular services.  Much of the credit for renewing the church after this time belongs to the State Convention for sending Evangelist J.W. Hatch and his wife in 1900 who not only encouraged the members to repair the meeting house, but to secure a new Pastor.

Much of the early strength and power of the church was due to a group of dedicated men who organized and led singing groups and Bible studies.  Women were not to be outdone by the men and they too contributed to the strength of the church through the Ladies Aid Society and Philathea Class.

In the year 1923, it was deemed advantageous for the church to be incorporated and on April 12, 1923, the First Baptist Church in Westbrook was officially registered.  In this same year, the home at 65 Stroudwater Street was purchased for a parsonage.  In December of 1947, a fire broke out in the night from the chimney of the front furnace and it severely damaged much of the upper part of the church structure.

In 1954 more rooms were added for the growing Sunday school and the basement likewise, underwent remodeling.  These improvements helped the Sunday school for awhile, but as it continued to grow there was need again for additional space.  In 1959, the Welch home adjacent ot the church lot was purchased and this house with its many rooms provided more space for the Sunday school as well as dwelling quarters for the church custodian.

The church was likewise growing at this time, and it gave rise to a building project in 1963 in which much of the interior of the sancturary and vestry was reconstructed.  In 1968, a new parsonage located at 96 Oakland Avenue was purchased and in 1971, the church acquired the land and building at 705 Main Street which was transformed into a parking lot.

In 1973, plans were drawn up for a new Christian Education wing and this wing provided more room for Sunday School classes, the Church Library, the Pastor's Study, and the Secretary's Office.

In 1989-90, major repairs were made including siding and a handicap ramp installed.  In 1983, a Nursery School was established and served many families in the community and church.

As a person surveys the first century of the church's history, a number of notable characteristics stand out:

First, is the strong lay involvement of both men and women over the years.  As already mentioned, these men and women have organized and led men and women's groups, taught Sunday school classes, sponsored singing groups, and served in mission groups that have touched lives both here and overseas. 

Secondly, this church has had a history of reaching out to its community.  As previously noted, the church began because some of its Scottish immigrants wanted to reach children for Christ.  More recently, a former Pastor, Bruce Dyer spearheaded a community effort to reach teens in Westbrook and this eventually became known as the Mission Possible Teen Center

As a church, we strongly believe that God wants us to be light and salt in the world and we encourage our members to follow their passion to minister to others in Christ's name. In 2009, a group of ladies from our church shared their vision of starting a soup kitchen in our church and for the last 4 years, our church has served a hot meal to the needy in our community on the third Saturday of every month.

Thirdly, as a person surveys the history of the church, one sees a strong emphasis on discipling others.  The church has had a strong Sunday School program over the years.

Finally, as one surveys the church's history, its heart for missions can be seen. 

 


733 Main St., Westbrook, ME 04092