Thursday, April 24, 2014
The First Congregational Church of Gray's members are active inside and outside of their 1901 building.
Courtesy Jeff Ferguson
WORSHIP SPOTLIGHT is a weekly series focusing on places of worship in central and southern Maine. Information is submitted by the places of worship. For information, e-mail Religion@ pressherald.com or rharmon@ pressherald.com.
DENOMINATION/AFFILIATION: United Church of Christ
HISTORY: The church dates back to 1736, when Maine was part of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, the town was the Settlement at New Boston and the church was known as the First Parish. 1774, the Congregational Society was organized and in June 1774, the Rev. Samuel Nash was ordained as the town's first "official" minister.
The early church building was located at what is now commonly called Gray Corner. In 1825, Cumberland County laid out a new road, now called Portland Road or Route 100, that would run right through the church. The congregation built a new building east of Gray Corner on Yarmouth Road. On Jan. 2, 1901, the current building was dedicated on that site.
In 1962 the church purchased the lot on Brown Street from the Odd Fellows for parking. But church growth soon revealed the need for an education and office building, and the parish house was completed in 1973.
The Parish House hosts Sunday School activities, the church administrative offices, the food pantry, WIC, receptions and community activities.
The church is a member of the United Church of Christ. The UCC denomination was formed in 1957 with a uniting of denominations concerned with freedom of religious expression and the autonomy of local congregations.
The Rev. Nancy Salisbury answered the call to the First Congregational Church in Gray in March 2007. Our pastor is on leave but is scheduled to return in the next few weeks.
MINISTRIES: Members and friends of the First Congregational Church are involved in many groups and activities. The Barnyard Restaurant provides a presence of service every year at the Cumberland County Fair. A public supper featuring beans and casseroles is held on the fourth Saturday of the month, except in August when a barbecue chicken dinner is held. The Women's Fellowship is very active, not only in providing services to the congregation, but outside the church walls as well.
The church hosts the Community Food Pantry on the first and third Fridays of the month. Volunteers also help out at the Wayside Soup Kitchen in Portland.
Several of the youths and adults in the church attend camp sessions at Pilgrim Lodge in Litchfield. There are also youth activities, confirmation class, puppet ministry and special events on a regular basis.
WORSHIP SERVICES: 10 to 11 a.m. every Sunday; Sunday School for all ages is held from 8:55 to 10:55 a.m. during the school year. Fellowship time follows the weekly worship service. A hymn-sing at 9:50 a.m. is held on the first and third Sundays. Nursery care is provided and staffed with a CPR/first-aid certified provider. Holy Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of the month, and Bible study is held in the parish house on Thursday mornings.
CONTACT: First Congregational Church of Gray, P.O. Box 155, Gray, ME 04039; phone: 657-4279; www.GrayFirst.org