Manchester Community Church
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Where people count and Christ is honored.

History

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LITTLE WHITE CHURCH AT MANCHESTER FORKS
 

A Baptist church under the inspiration of Rev. Isaac Case was built in 1833 on a triangular piece of land at the Manchester Forks. The church was a typical New England Meetinghouse with two front doors which led into a foyer and two doors leading into the Sanctuary. Stairs on either side of the foyer led to a balcony overlooking the sanctuary. A pulpit stood on a riser at the front of the sanctuary.  Early town meetings were held in the church.

During the early 1900’s the church fell on hard times. It was kept open by a few women to conduct Sunday School. However, in 1937, the church was abandoned. During this period the village drunk sold the church pews to an antique dealer. When the theft was discovered, the dealer was forced to return the pews which still serve the church today.

In 1944, the Rev. Ernest Harvey, a home missionary sponsored by the American Baptist Churches of Maine, led the way to the reopening of the church. Seventeen people gathered to worship God midst fallen plaster, dust, broken laths, and 58 broken panes of glass. The underpinning of the church was gone and the roof leaked. It took six months to repair the church. A donated shed was added to the back of the church for church and Sunday School use. The church at the forks was rededicated in November 1944 as the Union Church of Manchester, an affiliate of the American Baptist Convention of Maine.

Sometime in the 1950’s a full basement was put under the church. In 1957 the name was changed from Union Church to Manchester Community Church. Again in the 1960’s the little white church underwent other major improvements. An adult club was formed. This was an important group because they helped the church raise funds for all kinds of renovations and repairs as well as providing meaningful fellowship.

During the years 1959-1988 the church at the forks shared a pastor with the East Winthrop Baptist Church. In 1990, Rev. Ernest B. Johnson, Jr. became the pastor. The church continued to grow through the 1990’s. Under his leadership more changes came to our church. A beautiful two story addition with full basement was added to the church in 1992. The shed in the back of the church had continued to house the Sunday School until this time. Dinners, fellowship times, rummage sales, and special events were always held in the church basement. The new Parish Hall gave space for Sunday School, church and community events. The congregation continued to grow, the church office was opened and a secretary was employed.

Horace L. Wilson, a long and faithful member, left a generous bequest to the church. Because of Mr. Wilson’s generosity, the church was able to purchase adjacent property in 2001. In 2002 the property, now known as the Wilson Property was improved to provide much needed additional parking and a Memorial Garden dedicated in the names of Horace Wilson and Jan Johnson. Finally in 2006 a steeple was erected on the church giving it the look of a typical New England village church through the generosity of Mr. Wilson. The steeple is a great source of pride to the church and the community …. And on the story goes.

The Little White Church at Manchester Forks continues its time honored ministry to the community, holding forth the faith and spirit of Jesus Christ, its Lord.