Manchester Community Church
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Where people count and Christ is honored.
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Sundays 10:00 a.m. - currently face masks are required to protect the vulnerable in our midst.

 

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 A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE “LITTLE WHITE CHURCH” AT MANCHESTER FORKS

 

A Baptist church under the inspiration of Rev. Isaac Case was built in 1833 on a triangular piece of land at the Manchester Forks. The church was a typical New England meetinghouse with two front doors which led into a foyer and two doors leading from there into the sanctuary.  Stairs on either side of the foyer led to a balcony overlooking the sanctuary. A pulpit stood on a riser at the front of the sanctuary.  Early town meetings were held in the church.

During the early 1900s the church fell on hard times. It was kept open by a few women to conduct Sunday School.  However, in 1937, the church was abandoned.  During this period the village drunk sold the church pews to an antique dealer.  When the theft was discovered, the dealer was forced to return the pews, which still serve the church today.

In 1944, the Rev. Ernest Harvey, a home missionary sponsored by the American Baptist Churches of Maine, led the way to the reopening of the church.  Seventeen people gathered to worship God midst fallen plaster, dust, broken laths, and 58 broken panes of glass.  The underpinning of the church was gone and the roof leaked.  It took six months to repair the church.  A donated shed was added to the back of the church for church and Sunday School use.  The church at the forks was rededicated in November 1944 as the Union Church of Manchester, an affiliate of the American Baptist Convention of Maine.

Sometime in the 1950s a full basement was put under the church.  In 1957 the name was changed from Union Church to Manchester Community Church.   Again in the 1960s the little white church underwent other major improvements.  An adult club was formed.  This was an important group because they helped the church raise funds for all kinds of renovations and repairs as well as providing meaningful fellowship.

During the years 1959-1988 the church at the forks shared a pastor with the East Winthrop Baptist Church.  In 1990, Rev. Ernest B. Johnson, Jr., became the pastor.  The church continued to grow through the 1990s.  Under his leadership more changes came to our church.  A beautiful two story addition with full basement was added to the church in 1992. The shed in the back of the church had continued to house the Sunday School until this time.  Dinners, fellowship times, sales, and special events were always held in the church basement.  The new Parish Hall gave space for Sunday School and for church and community events.  As the congregation grew, the church office was opened, and a secretary was employed.  

Horace L. Wilson, a long and faithful member, left a generous bequest to the church that allowed the purchase of an adjacent property in 2001.  In 2002 the property, now known as the Wilson Property was improved to provide much needed additional parking and a Memorial Garden dedicated in the names of Horace Wilson and Jan Johnson.  In October 2006, also through the generosity of Mr. Wilson, a steeple was erected on the church giving it the look of a typical New England village church.  The steeple is a great source of pride to the church and the community.  In 2007 new front doors were installed in memory of Walter F. Mooers, Sr., and in 2008 steeple bells were added to our beautiful steeple in memory of Joseph and Claudia Arnold.  

On May 23, 2010, MCC celebrated Rev. Ernest B. Johnson, Jr. retirement after twenty years of dedicated service to the church. Rev. Donald Stanley Davenport became pastor on October 17, 2010. The church front steps were getting to be in very condition and in 2013 Sonny Chavarie had granite steps installed in memory of his wife Priscilla Mae Stearns Bryant Chavarie. Pastor Davenport served the church faithfully until his retirement in 2013, when Rev. Dr. Jack L. Daniel, a longtime friend of Rev. Johnson who preached on summer Sundays over the years, became our pastor on September 16, 2013 after retiring from thirty-five years of service to his church in Andover, Massachusetts.  During Pastor Daniel's brief tenure, he invited Manchester resident Alec Rogers, a local businessman and part-time seminarian at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, to serve with him as Pastoral Intern beginning in September 2014. Pastor Daniel served the church until October 26, 2014 at which time Rev. Donald Stanley Davenport returned to serve our church as interim minister until a vote was taken to call him back to the pulpit officially in March 2015.  

In 2017 there were ongoing discussions between the Trustees and Future’s Committee on remodeling the downstairs’ kitchen and floor.  The Church held a special meeting on 4/22/2018 and a Building Committee was formed charged with making a recommendation to enlarge Johnson Hall with a new kitchen and/or renovate the downstairs’ kitchen and floor.  The committee recommended enlarging Johnson Hall and in October of 2018 the church met and drawings of Johnson Hall Addition were presented by Donald Sweeney. The church voted to pursue this option and charged the committee with the task.  Throughout the fall, winter and spring of 2018/2019 the Architectural Plans were finalized, reviewed and approved by the Town and the State Fire Marshal’s Office; and, sent out for bids.  The church met on March 24, 2019 and gave its final approval of the project and a budget for it.  After reviewing all bids, it was decided by the Trustees that the church, with the leadership of Don Sweeney, would serve as General Contractor and sub-contract the work to be done.  Construction began in June of 2019 and the project was completed in the fall of 2020 and dedicated as the Donald and Lynn Sweeney Fellowship Hall in the summer of 2021. It was during this period from March of 2020 into 2022 when the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic necessitated intermittent suspensions of in-person gatherings, at which times pre-recorded MCC church services were offered on the internet on YouTube.

On January 31, 2021 Alec Rogers was installed as Pastoral Assistant to Rev. Davenport who announced he would be retiring (for the last time) at the end of the year. On November 21, 2021, a unanimous vote of the church membership was passed to approve the recommendations of the Pastoral Search Committee to call Assistant Pastor Alec Rogers to the office of Pastor upon Rev. Davenport's retirement. Pastor Alexander Rodman Rogers was installed on January 2, 2022, with Pastor Davenport to be installed as Pastor Emeritus shortly thereafter. They served MCC faithfully together until on July 7, 2022 The Rev. Donald Stanley Davenport, Pastor Emeritus went to be with the Lord.  

 

………..And on the story goes.

 

The Little White Church at Manchester Forks continues its time-honored ministry to the community, holding forth the faith and spirit of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.                                           

 

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The Manchester Community Church Pastors from 1990 - Present

Pastor Alexander (Alec) Rodman Rogers January 2, 2022 - present

 

 

The Rev. Donald Stanley Davenport October 27, 2014 - January 2, 2022

Pastor Emeritus Donald (Don) Stanley Davenport - January 2, 2022 - July 7, 2022

 
 
 
 

The Rev. Dr. Jack L. Daniel September 16, 2013 - October 26, 2014

 

 

The Rev. Donald Davenport February, 2010 - September 15, 2013

 

 

 

The Rev. Ernest B. Johnson, Jr. February, 1990 - February, 2010

Retirement Party May 23, 2010

 

 

 

 Manchester Community Church Pastor's Assistant - present

 

 

Administrative Assistant/ Secretary/Clerk

Deanna Mosher Hallett