Church services are held during the summer months and are led by a variety of visiting clergy. Services begin at 10 am each Sunday during the active season. See the Services page for details on the current year's schedule.
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The Union Church was originally of the
Free Will Baptist denomination, but is now inter-denominational and welcomes
all to its services.
Established in the early 1800's, the church offers summer services each year
led by a variety of visiting pastors.
Following is the transcript of a speech by Ruth Wakeley on the history of the Union Church, given at a service:
"This short speech might be entitled 'Faith of Our Fathers', for you are surrounded by evidence of it in this room. On the right hand wall is the original sign commemorating its founding in 1839 with the commandment that 'Ye Love One Another'. Apparently, the members did not always follow what they preached, having broken away from the Free Will Baptist church in town over a dispute concerning money and leadership.
I am not quite as old as this church-- founded in 1839-- but I probably remember more than anyone else here today about its growth and changes over the years.
Turning your head to the back of the room, you see a picture of the original meeting house built by this group with donated work, lumber sawed at Fish Mill Brook, and glass and nails donated by an enterprising woman who bartered her churned butter for them.
You may have noticed outside a bow attached to an iron pin in the rock. In the days when Stephen Boardman gave the land for the church, it was on a rocky, barren prominence with no surrounding protection from trees. It was anchored by two iron pins and cabled to the rock. Behind was an old horse barn.
Inside you see the cement slab on which the wood stove sat, but some sense of propriety nudged them to remove the wooden, sawdust-filled boxes used as spittoons-- the largest being for the preacher.
In 1843, due to dwindling attendance, the meeting house was turned over to the Advent Church. The stomping and shouting at their meetings proved to be a drawing card for the young men of the area, who gathered from miles around to watch the proceedings from the windows. Adventists believed in baptism by immersion, which was done in what we now know as Advent Cove.
The terms of the original gift of land stipulated that it would revert to the family if it ceased to be used for religious ceremonies. When the Adventist membership gradually waned and the remnants of them returned to the Village, a loose-knit group among them -- the Meads and the Foggs-- maintained ownership by holding occasional social and religious gatherings.
Meanwhile, in 1893 a large part of Pine Island was purchased by a group of Methodist ministers who in turn encouraged others-- all in the New England conference-- to settle there. These settlers were dependent upon the local farmers for food, the men making daily trips to shore up to Dockham Hill for milk, eggs, butter, and vegetables. Later, the farmers also gave them pots of cooked chicken on Sundays and baked beans on Wednesdays.
For their spiritual needs, they either rowed to Center Harbor or walked the six miles to Meredith churches. It soon became apparent that the all-but-abandoned church would be a perfect solution to the hardships of distance. A suggestion that the Pine Island ministers take turns preaching in the church was also a welcome one for the farm families. By 1901, a church library was established as an adjunct to Sunday services. You will find at the end of each pew some of these old books; among them, original copies of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Roughing It, and Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, Our War With Spain by Trumbull White, and How to Get Strong by Blaikee. All these books could be borrowed, with a two cent fine for being overdue. The fine will be considerably greater if any books are perused during Reverend Huff's service.
To that end he enlisted the aid of Ralph Fletcher, a well-known architect; Clyde Smith, a contractor; and James Leighton to rebuild the front aspect of the church and add a steeple. All of them made no profit on their work. He also enlisted financial aid from the summer residents, of which my father was one. At a propitious moment during construction, a call was received from a Lester Downing of Alton Bay offering to donate the 175-pound bell that once was on the side wheeler, Mount Washington. According to him, it was used instead of a whistle to frighten the horses they moved from point to point.
Since then several generations of family members of those who contributed to, worked for, and served as trustees have given much of their time and talent to the survival of this summer Christian outpost. Note the valances made and painted by Joan Ekstrom; the framed picture at the back donated by the Solon Colbys, married in this church 70 years ago; the cross carved by Douglas Mertz from the historic oak tree in Hesky Park, Meredith; and the candelabra created by David Little, who married Heidi in this church. I must also mention that our minister for today once made a precipitous climb up the belfry to replace fraying rope on the bell and repair the supports. And most recently Faith Lee, our singular factotum, who shoulders tasks too numerous to mention and plays the piano and pump organ with equal aplomb. We thank them all."
Website created and maintained by Robyn Piper Last updated April 2020