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original church
Original Church on Temple Street
Since it was founded by 12 members on August 21, 1828, the First Congregational Church of Waterville, Maine has had a colorful history marked by both difficulties and successes. In 1835 our Church's then seventeen members called its first minister, Thomas Adams, and three weeks later, without any money in hand, voted to build a meetinghouse on Temple Street in downtown Waterville. The first twenty-five years were lean times for the Church, with numerous intervals without a minister, frequent disagreements, and a continuing lack of funds. The congregation persevered, and our Church began to stabilize and grow in the 1850's as the region's manufacturing industries developed. By 1900 the Church had over 200 members in a vibrant and active congregation.

The World War 1 years from 1914 to 1919 were challenging as the minister, Rev. Robinson, was too preoccupied with assisting the war effort to preach, the Church was unable to pay for fuel to heat the building so that winter services needed to be held in the Waterville Opera house, and the influenza epidemic of 1918 caused the Church to be entirely closed for several weeks. The Church was revitalized in the 1920's, and by its centennial year of 1928 had over 300 members.

Like most of our country, the Great Depression of the 1930's deeply affected our Church, as it was unable to pay current expenses. In October 1934 the Church's Prudential Committee said that they were unwilling to further extend the Church's debt and wanted instructions from the congregation. To save money the Church's minister, William Smith, even offered his early resignation at the January 1935 annual meeting. This crisis stirred the congregation, and by a large majority the Church refused to accept his resignation. By the spring of 1935 the Church had raised money to pay for all current expenses and had even completed needed facility repairs. The Church continued to grow and by the 1950's numbered 400 members.

In the early 1960's downtown Waterville Urban Renewal meant that the original church building on Temple Street would need to be either moved or replaced at a new location. Even though building relocation would have been entirely paid for by Urban Renewal, the Church courageously decided that it was best for the future of the Church to build a new building on Eustis Parkway. Its cost of $425,000 was 17 times the Church's 1963 annual budget of $25,000. Several current members of our congregation who were on the 1963 Church Building Program Committee that led this leap of faith, include Harold and Jean Klaiber, James and Margaret Robjent, Earle and Sue Bessey, Jennie Titus, and William Niehoff.

We look forward to a present and future vibrant living Church by continuing the faith, courage, love, persistence, and faithfulness to Christ that have been the hallmarks of our 177-year-old history.

God is still speaking website First Congregational Church United Church of Christ