Monday, June 9, 2014

North Windham Union Church celebrates twenty years - By Jim McBride

For twenty years, the big white church at 723 Roosevelt Trail in North Windham has been the setting for some of the most significant events in the lives of Windham’s residents. Hundreds of weekly services and dozens of weddings, funerals, baptisms, and concerts have taken place within its walls. Although the North Windham Union Church UCC has been located there for many years, the “new” sanctuary was finished and opened for service in June of 1994.  It’s time to celebrate the last two decades of faith in North Windham!

Please join the members and friends of the North Windham Union Church for a special 20th anniversary celebration of the “new” sanctuary on Saturday, June 14th, and Sunday, June 15th.

On Saturday evening, June 14th, the church will host a potluck supper of chop suey, mac and cheese, salad, and dessert at 5 p.m. in the Parish Hall. We have invited church members and friends from throughout the Lakes Region to come back and reminisce about the project.  Bruce Small, who was the project leader and building contractor for the “new” church will share a wonderful slide show and other memories from that special time twenty years ago.  The dinner is open to the community and we hope you will join us.

Then the next day, Sunday June 15th at 10 a.m, Interim Pastor Rev. David Hall will conduct a special service of celebration commemorating the first service in our “new” church.  Rev. Dr. Rick Small, who was the minister during the construction, will be joining us along with a few members of the original building committee.  Dr. Rick Nickerson, Minister of Music, will lead the choir and the congregation singing the same music as was heard in the first service 20 years ago.  Our worship service will begin in the Parish Hall and then we will proceed into the “new” church as we did in 1994. This should be a very special and meaningful worship service.

After the church service on June 15th, we will continue the celebration with a barbecue lunch outside to also celebrate Father’s Day.  Additionally, the Little Meeting House next door will host an open house to showcase the old sanctuary and some of the community service projects that continue to use this wonderful space today. We sincerely hope that new and old friends alike from Windham and the Lakes Region will join us at North Windham Union Church for this special weekend’s events on June 14th and 15th.  Hope to see you there!

Some history of the project:
Back in the late 1980s the church had largely outgrown its original church building. The congregation was meeting for worship in the Parish Hall space, on folding chairs, and even that space was busting at the seams.  So after many months of planning, design and fund-raising, the church members came together to build a new church that was finished and opened for service in June of 1994.

The construction project was a true labor of love! There was a talented building finance committee that worked hard prior to the start of the project.  The building committee was a dedicated group of church leaders.  In order to keep costs down, Bruce Small agreed to tackle the project using his regular small crew, but augmented by a much larger group of church volunteers.  The construction started in September of 1993, and the first major phase was to move the old church building to make way for the new.  The original sanctuary was moved across the driveway and donated to a newly formed corporation of church and community members – and is now operating as the non-profit Little Meeting House.  Over the next nine months, Bruce and his team proceeded to build the new church and gathering space as it stands today.  Special recognition must go to volunteer, “clerk of the works”, Carol Clark for helping keep the project organized.

This was a very exciting project for the church, with a highly-visible location and so many people involved.  Bruce used his regular crew of two carpenters, but the project would not have been possible without the help of dozens of volunteers who logged many hours from start to finish.  The volunteer jobs ranged from clerk of the works, to nailing framing and shingles, to painting, sweeping and everything in between – especially keeping the food coming for the crew. Fortunately, every step along the way was well-documented with photos and records.

During those years, the North Windham Union Church was under the leadership of Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Rick Small and Associate Pastor Rev. Hal Shepard.  As the construction neared completion, church leaders planned for a meaningful service to celebrate the accomplishment and transition to the new space. On Sunday, May 29th, 1994, the worship service started as usual in the old Parish Hall, and the congregation processed ceremoniously into the new sanctuary space together.  The new church was officially dedicated in a special service a few weeks later on Sunday, June 19th, 1994.

While many of the most active church members from twenty years ago have since passed away or moved on, there are still many folks in the church and around town who were passionately involved in this project.  Please join us for a very special celebration of 20 years of faith and service in North Windham.

Photos by Carol Clark

No comments:

Post a Comment