CLIFTON — The Clifton United Baptist Church is celebrating its 175th anniversary and the entire Airline community is invited to join the party.
Founded in 1838, the church, with its lighted bell tower, is located on a corner of the Airline Road near Parks Pond.
“For 175 years, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached on this little corner of the Airline,” said the Rev. John P. Walsh, the church’s pastor. “We’re inviting everyone to join the celebration with music, food and fireworks.”
The celebration, which comes at the end of the anniversary year, is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 15, through Sunday, Sept. 21. The church is mailing invitations to every Clifton household, hoping that all will feel welcome.
The congregation was initially called the Freewill Baptist Church in the town known at the time as Jarvis Gore. Its membership roll included names such as DeBeck, Penny, Williams, Rook, Chick and Campbell.
At first, the group held “cottage meetings,” but in 1885, the decision was made to construct a church. When completed, the structure’s total cost was $1,614.79, according to a church history.
Additions were built in 1959 and 1993 to add Christian education rooms, a nursery, a fellowship hall and a full kitchen. A parsonage was dedicated in 1987.
Today, the church holds weekly worship services and Bible studies. The congregation reaches out to the community through its Clifton Community Food Bank, which serves those in need locally and in the surrounding communities. Along with the food bank, the clients can browse through the Clothes Closet, which has clean used clothing and household items available at no charge A free monthly luncheon also is served for area senior citizens.
Children’s events are held monthly, in addition to annual Vacation Bible Schools in the summer.
For almost two centuries, the church has been the spiritual home to generations of Airline residents.
“Over the years, many faces have changed but the people always feel like ‘family,’” said Ruth Williams Perry of Clifton, whose father, R. Leon Williams, was the church treasurer for many years.
Perry, who is the current church treasurer, said the family atmosphere makes studying God’s word and seeking His guidance “easier and pleasant.”
Born next door, Vernon Campbell also comes from a family that was heavily involved in the church, with his father, Guy, and uncle, Leroy, working tirelessly at the church. A retired electrician, Campbell and his wife, Jean, continue their service through their faithful attendance, doing repairs, performing grounds maintenance or working at church suppers.
“We love our church family and have no wish to be anywhere else,” Jean Campbell said.
The anniversary celebration begins on Wednesday and Thursday with two church services at 6:30 p.m. Guest speakers, the Rev. Scott Records of First Baptist Church, Bar Harbor, and the Rev. Scott Connors of the Ellsworth United Baptist Church, will answer the questions of why does God love us and just how does he show his love. Refreshments will be served.
Friday will feature an evening of music and memories at 7 p.m. Several former pastors are scheduled to talk about their tenure in the Clifton church. Musicians from the area also have been invited to perform.
A parking lot party will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. Hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn will be given away. Christian music also is part of the evening. A fireworks show will commence shortly after nightfall.
A worship service on Sunday at 9 a.m. will conclude the celebration’s activities.
The Clifton church is part of the American Baptist Churches of Maine.
For more information, contact the church at 843-5441.