In 1800 the renowned Methodist preacher Jesse Lee gave the first sermon in New Sharon, Maine. Shortly thereafter, On February 9, 1801, the Congregational Church of New Sharon organized at Cape Cod Hill at the home of James Howes, Esquire. The first members numbered eight. In typical Congregational fashion the church established a Covenant and Confession of Faith, adopted in 1826, each grounded in biblical scripture. By 1841 church records report a membership of 99 members.
The first Congregational Church was a wooden building that burned in 1843. Work commenced immediately to construct a new church – the present brick building was dedicated the very next year. The brick church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.
In 1865 the church purchased the vestry building from the Universalist Society for $600. This proved to be a blessing of foresight, as this now serves as the primary worship space known as “Little Church” (worship is held in the brick church only in the summer).
The Ladies’ Guild was organized in 1891 for the purpose of “the intellectual, material and social improvement of the Church and congregation.” That same year the Christian Endeavor Society was also established with 52 members.
From 1930 to 1965 the church was federated with the Methodist church across the river. Worship was held at the Congregational church in the summer months and at the Methodist church in the winter. No longer federated, the two churches still enjoy a warm and friendly relationship – coming together for worship several times a year.
In the early 1960s the New Sharon church was one of the early Congregational churches to join the United Church of Christ. It has enjoyed this relationship ever since. Over the years it has been an active participant in the mission and work of the Franklin Association and of the Maine Conference.
This is a church that has enjoyed a long history of Christian life and mission in New Sharon. Today it is small in numbers but rich in Spirit. It has a vibrant after-school Christian Education program – Tuesday’s Children – and in the past was the host of a summer Vacation Bible School program as well. The church reaches out into the community with spiritual and financial assistance in times of need or crisis, and it supports the on-going mission in Honduras through the Maine-Honduras Partnership.
After more than 200 years of Christian life and witness, the New Sharon Congregational Church – United Church of Christ continues to hear the call of the still-speaking God – to be Christ’s church in New Sharon. Thanks be to God!