Established in 1843
Establishment of the First Congregational Church in Sheepscot
The town of Newcastle was settled in 1733 and organized twenty years later. Between 1758 and 1797, nine ministers are recorded as being called, but evidently none had the dedication that was needed. In 1797 the General Court of Massachusetts sued the Town of Newcastle for not providing sufficient religious influence. In May 1797 the town’s Council called a meeting to gather a church. Mr. Kiah Bayley was called from Massachusetts to preach the gospel and establish a religious group in this “wilderness.” The First Congregational Church was established in the village of Sheepscot in 1797. Following his ordination in 1799, the Rev. Mr. Bayley and his wife Abigail brought their gifts of faith and knowledge to both the church and community. They were founders of both Lincoln Academy and Bangor Theological Seminary and Abigail was responsible for the first money collected in support of the seminary’s treasury.
Creation of the Second Congregational Church
As the town of Newcastle grew in population and prospered from shipbuilding, other church denominations came into the area. The village of Damariscotta also grew despite a fire which swept the town in May 1845. The congregationalists in the Sheepscot area experienced growing friction around religious fervor. On September 30, 1843 the Second Congregational Church was organized to meet the spiritual needs of congregationalists on the east or Damariscotta side of town as 94 members left the First church. A red brick meeting house was built on the shores of the Damariscotta River and was dedicated in 1849.
Known for a time as the Damariscotta Congregational Church in Newcastle, the Second Congregational Church was served by a number of pastors over the years. On occasion a touch of the “modern liberal spirit” characterized the pastorate. In 1874 the church hosted the Congregational State Conference. Some members noticed a softening of the harsher aspects of Calvinism. In the late 1800’s several of the stained glass windows were added, and the church was incorporated on March 5, 1914. As the church journeyed through the 20th century many special emphases were placed on current world events. Considerable repairs and additions have been made to the building over the years and a pipe organ was installed. The church also established a church library. In 1979 Second Congregational Church was placed on the List of National Historical Places in the State of Maine.
Second Congo joins the UCC
In 1963 the church became part of the United Church of Christ. Although in the late 20th century under the leadership of its pastor the church withdrew for a short time, it eventually reunited with the denomination. The Second Congregational Church now has a very active role in the community and a missions outreach that supports many organizations both locally and abroad. The church takes great pride in its relationship with the Carpenter’s Boatshop, a unique ministry at Pemaquid based on Christian living and the quiet craft of boat-building. This ministry was begun by Rev. Robert Ives, a former assistant minister of the church. Second Congregational Church is also a Covenant Church with Habitat for Humanity.
As we make our way into the 21st century Second Congregational Church, UCC celebrates and continues a rich history of worship and living out the love of God we have seen and known in Jesus our Christ. Since Mr. Bayley’s arrival in 1797 the church has been served by 27 pastors and its ministry carried out by devoted and dedicated members and friends. In 2011, the congregation voted to accept the UCC designation as an Open and Affirming (ONA) church. To learn more about our ONA designation, Click here.
Updated September 2013