A SHORT HISTORY OF PHIPPSBURG CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
On July 4, 1765 our church was organized directly across the Kennebec River from its present site, on Arrowsic Island. An increasing number of its members began to live across the river on the mainland and our present meetinghouse was built in Phippsburg Center in 1802.We celebrated the 250th anniversary of our founding in July 2015 .
Our church sits on a hill overlooking the Kennebec River and the Squirrel Point lighthouse, facing down the river to the open sea. Our church steeple serves as a navigational point on many charts. In late 1774 an English Linden Tree was planted on the hill across from the church, near the grave site of Maine’s first Congressman, Mark Langdon Hill. This majestic tree, listed in Maine’s Historic Tree registry, serves as a symbol for our church.
The land where the church stands was donated by Mrs. Mary McCobb, who resided in what is now the 1774 Inn. There was no steeple on the original building, and the balcony would have gone around three sides of the sanctuary. Only one balcony remains today. As a part of the Great awakening, our meeting house was remodeled in 1846 to the church we have today, with the exception of the present stained glass windows which were installed in 1909. Electricity was added to the church in 1952, a furnace with hot air heat in 1967, and a bathroom in 2000. Starting in March 1997, the church opened year round after decades of being open only from Easter to Christmas. Since the bicentennial of the church building in 2002, every major system has been updated.
In 2007, with a large bequest and a successful capital campaign, the Linden Tree Meetinghouse was erected beside our church. This building provides areas for fellowship, business meetings, Sunday School, the Pastor’s office, a small kitchen and a Meditation Room. Just outside the Meditation Room is a beautiful Meditation garden space created by several dedicated deacons/gardeners in loving memory of Thatcher Pinkham, a long time and devoted member of our church.
Our church is located nearly in the center of the Town of Phippsburg (Pop.2200), a mid-coast Maine peninsula town also rich with history which celebrated its 200th birthday in 2014. Phippsburg’s historical roots include the site of the Popham Colony -1607, where the first English ship, the Virginia, was built in America. There are two historic forts manned in the Civil and World Wars. In the mid 1800s a mixed-race colony was settled on Malaga Island, in the New Meadows River on the west side of our town. The inhabitants of the colony were removed and the colony destroyed in 1912 by an order of the Governor of Maine. Early settlers, similar to our current residents, included shipbuilders, fishermen, lobstermen, teachers, historians, firemen, and mill workers. An increasing number of our new residents are retirees from “away”.
Our church community extends well beyond our geographical boundaries, and our congregation is comprised of folks from at least eight neighboring towns and communities. There are also UCC churches in Bath, Brunswick and Woolwich.