February 25, 2010

RIVERSIDE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH KEZAR FALLS

— ADDRESS: 5 School St.

DENOMINATION/AFFILIATION: United Methodist in the New England Conference

HISTORY: The church began in 1804 in the John Wesley fashion with only small prayer groups. In 1866, the Rev. Kinsmen Atkinson was appointed to reorganize the failing church. He organized regular services, weekly prayer meetings and spiritual classes, and soon had a dedicated congregation.

In 1867, the growing church was accepted into the Maine Methodist Conference and in need of a new home.

The dilapidated Union Church of Kezar Falls came into their possession, and $300 was spent repairing it. This building was used until 1881, when the congregation doubled under the appointment of the Rev. Freeman Yates. A new house of worship was needed, so the Union Church was moved to a new location, and Riverside Church was built in its place. The church has been in continuous use ever since.

Many improvements were completed over the years, the largest being the addition of the Stanley Memorial Hall in 1963. It houses the Christian Education rooms, the pastor's office, the library, historical memorabilia and the Ladies' Parlor. Smaller interior and exterior renovations are ongoing in this stately 175-year-old church.

The church doors are open to many activities: weddings, Alcoholics Anonymous group meetings, Scouts, community meetings and numerous fundraisers such as suppers, festivals, fairs and chicken barbecues. ''Singing Waiters'' serve supper and sing at the Holly Berry Fair and for Mother's Day and Valentine's Day.

The church is active spiritually, hosting a Tri-Town Food Pantry, Clothing Barn for the needy and Meals on Wheels. Mission work by the United Methodist Women, the Men's Prayer Breakfast Group, the Youth Group and the children in Sunday school are also important parts of the congregation's activities.

WORSHIP SERVICES: Sunday school at 9 a.m. and worship service at 9:15 a.m. Summer worship services are at 7:30 and 9 a.m. There is a Bible study program at 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

FUTURE PLANS: The church's vision for the future is to become an even larger spiritual network to reach out to the community.

CONTACT: The Rev. Alan Cogswell at the church, 625-4436, or the parsonage, 625-3923.

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