50 years ago this year, Calvary UMC marched together from the old Hammond Street location to the building we now use at 59 Sabattus Street. That’s when Calvary became “The Church in the Triangle.” And 40 years ago, First United Church of Christ (now High Street Congregational Church, UCC) handed the building over as an outright gift.

Our church has an incredibly rich history that goes all the way back to the beginning of Methodism in Maine. How do I know? Recently, Calvary UMC’s oldest lifelong member let me borrow one of the last known copies of a written history of our church. This written history shows that the story of our church has always been one that changes and adopts to the needs of the time.

A collage shows the cover and excerpts from three separate pages in the history of our church.
This collage shows the cover and excerpts from three separate pages in the history of our church, written in the 1990s by Miriam Harris and Dorothy Parker.

We have an amazing opportunity to bring this story to life, and over the next year, we’re working to do just that. (Want to help? Get in touch with me, your resident Calvary UMC media geek. We have some neat ideas and welcome yours, too! We can use help from people with a wide variety of gifts. [Spoiler: one of our projects is a video project!])

More than just a history of the church, we want to tell the story of how this living community has grown together over time. The church started as a Methodist society (one of John Wesley’s pre-denominational discipleship groups) without a building of its own. Later, the people of the church raised the resources to build their very first building. Then decades later they constructed a second building to accomodate the 400+ attendance at worship. The worshippers in both buildings were technically part of the same congregation, but after a few decades and increasing disagreements, the two churches (now Park Street and Hammond Street) began operating separately. Each church then had its own pastor.

But times changed, and the church did, too. In light of economic and social factors in the late 1920s, the two congregations became one united church again, choosing the name “Calvary” to represent the congregation.

A collage of five historical documents, as described in the caption. The documents range in date from the 1880s to the 1970s. They are all various shades of aged yellow.
Various historical documents from the life of our church over the many decades of its existence. The collage includes (clockwise from upper-left) the cover of a bulletin from the old Hammond Street location; a handwritten account of “Sabbath evening prayer meetings”; the cover from the 1970s featuring the Sabattus Street location; a bulletin from 1966 announcing an upcoming bean supper; a 1876 excerpt from a written account of the church.

We’ve had a lot of disagreements over the life of our church. More recently, the 2013 decision to become a Reconciling congregation came after a difficult and divisive conversation. It was hard time, and we’re still recovering from those wounds as a church. But Calvary UMC is also still growing and thriving spiritually—despite the anxiety of ongoing financial insecurity. We have, do, and will come together through challenging times to shine the warm light of God’s love into the world. For us, that starts right here in our beloved downtown Lewiston community.

Check out the timeline we just published that gives an overview of the history of our church.

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