The West Falmouth Baptist Church may only have around 100 members, but the congregation does a lot for the community at large. Kate Irish Collins / The Forecaster

FALMOUTH — Although it’s among the smallest churches in town, the West Falmouth Baptist Church is dedicated to community outreach and engagement and to letting people know the doors are open – and not just on Sunday.

“We don’t want to just be a big white building with locked doors (most of the week),” the Rev. Mac Ray said this week. “Isaiah 58:7 calls us to be a giving church and that’s what we want to be; we want to be focused outward.”

With around 100 members, about half of whom show up regularly for Sunday services, Ray said it can be a challenge just to keep the building operational, let alone provide free programming.

Diane Ray and the Rev. Mac Ray lead the West Falmouth Baptist Church, which they say wants to be “focused outward.” Kate Irish Collins / The Forecaster

But that’s what the West Falmouth Baptist Church does.

One of its most popular programs is called Kids Night Out, which is open to any family with children between 4 and 12 years old. Ray said the monthly event, held the second Friday, actually attracts mostly nonmembers. And they don’t just come from Falmouth, but from communities such as Windham and Gray – and as far away as Scarborough.

Kids Night Out was created last year as a way to reach the younger generation, said Diane Ray, who’s the director of both outreach and music. Events include crafts, movie and game nights and special programs such as Mad Science that draw between 25 and 75 kids and their families.

Ray said the church also holds community dinners four to five times a year to raise money for specific causes or charities, such as cystic fibrosis. As many as 80 people attend, according to Mac Ray.

And the church recently packed 90 shoeboxes filled with Christmas presents and basic hygiene items for Operation Christmas Child, a program that reaches children in more than 100 countries worldwide.

This week, the church also hosted its annual Christmas concert by the Maine Pops. Ray, who plays flute in the ensemble, said the free event is so popular that the church was forced to turn some away last year.

The West Falmouth Baptist Church also supports the Root Cellar, a full-service resource center in Portland, by adopting 12 families and providing them with new winter wear and toys for Christmas.

In addition, the church also goes on regular mission overseas trips and supports the backpack food program at the Good Shepherd Food Bank, the Falmouth Food Pantry, and Friendship House, a men’s recovery home in South Portland.

While most churches in Maine offer similar types of community engagement, it’s particularly challenging for a small church, said Mac Ray. Among Falmouth’s five churches, Falmouth Congregational and Holy Martyrs appear to be the two biggest, with more than 200 members and over 3,000 parishioners, respectively.

Ray said Maine and Cumberland County, in particular, are among the most unchurched areas of the country; the Pew Research Center found in 2014 that 47% of people statewide either seldom or never go to church, compared with 22% that attend church services weekly.

“Membership and attendance and staying relevant are huge challenges for all Maine churches, but we also see that as an opportunity,” Ray said.

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