Thursday, October 22, 2015

Favorite Steeple

The former First Baptist Church building has stood in the center of Waldoboro since 1838 and has been the home of, first, a Baptist congregation and now a UCC congregation continuously since that time. I walk or drive by it most days of the week, and it represents a long line of memories and history that is important and special for me, and for many others, I presume. At least twice in my memory the steeple has been struck by lightning, one time just before a youth service. We stood around watching my friend's brother climb the firetruck ladder to put it out. Often its bell has been rung to call to worship, memorialize, or celebrate. Some of the stained windows were paid for by families and have charmed my eyes during many Sunday services. The organ is locally famous, and the old chandelier requires a VERY tall ladder in order to change its light bulbs. (My husband climbed it once!) The wooden pews are still as curved and shiny as ever. The sanctuary still holds me in awe because of all the times I was able to sense God near me there. It was often a true sanctuary in the storms of growing up. 
I attended preschool in its basement, sat in its balcony (now closed) most Sunday mornings of my childhood, took piano lessons on the upright at the front of the sanctuary, sang from its stage's steps, played Mary in the Sunday School nativity play, was baptized in its baptismal on Easter Sunday of my 8th grade year, froze in the side yard standing for our living nativity, and in general experienced God's presence in worship and prayer here on many Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Not to mention all the Sunday school classes in the back narrow hall, tomfoolery in the nursery, puppet team practices in the basement, and carefully climbing the steps that wind up around the back of the organ from the back office to the stage. It was always exciting to explore those "off limits" places in the building. I remember when the church was never locked and when the decision was made to start locking it, which was a shame.
Today the Congregational Church owns it, and the church hosts community events and functions as well as its Sunday morning services. The church annually hosts lawn sales, a Christmas fair, and usually an open house during Waldoboro Day. There may be other chances to step inside. I did so on Good Friday last spring when it was open for prayer and reflection.
The Baptists held a prominent place in the history of Waldoboro as well, which can be read about in Jasper Stahl's History of Old Broad Bay and Waldoboro.

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