History is a labor of love

Approaching 200th anniversary, Jackson church looks forward

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jul 19, 2012
Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds The Jackson Congregational Church was founded in 1812. Its 200th anniversary celebration will take place in October at the church building built in 1841.

The town of Jackson was founded in 1812. That same year, 12 citizens of Jackson and Brooks — among them, one Jonathan Wright — got together to form what is now the Jackson Congregational Church. With the church approaching its 200th anniversary, it is fitting that descendants of Wright's are compiling a history of it.

Marlene Thompson, a relative of Wright's by marriage (her husband, Clifford Thompson, is a blood descendant), has been working on her history of Jackson Congregational for two years, and plans to have it ready for the 200th anniversary celebration in October. Her son, Bruce Thompson, deacon of the church and a direct descendant of Wright's, has also done a lot of research about it, and seems to know much of the history by heart.

"By heart" is an apt phrase, because the family clearly loves the church, having carefully gathered records of long-ago church members, weddings and other events, photographs and a list of around 40 pastors who have served the congregation over the decades. In addition, the Thompsons are applying to have the existing church building, built in 1841, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

They have also helped to organize public suppers, yard sales and other fundraisers to renovate the church interior and make a parking lot outside. The Thompsons were quick to give credit to the many others, both businesses and individuals, who have given time, energy, money and in-kind donations to the church.

Several other churches have helped out, lending people to work and even sharing their pastors for services, as time has allowed. Among them are Crossroads Community Baptist Church in Lincolnville, Brooks Congregational Church and Knox Ridge Baptist Church in Thorndike. Bruce Thompson said the church does not have a pastor of its own now, but hopes to in time.

"The goal is to get [the church] active again," he said.

That may take some time, as the church lacks a bathroom, and installing one, according to Bruce's estimate, would cost $20,000 or $30,000.

In the meantime, the church is available for weddings and functions, and will hold services when a pastor is available.

For the anniversary celebration, planned for Oct. 6, there will be two services, with music by the Brooks Congregational Church choir. And there will be a barbecue, to which everyone who has helped the church will be invited.

The Thompsons would be happy to have any records or artifacts connected with the Jackson Congregational Church — as a loan or gift to the church — and of course, contributions of time or money are welcome. They can be reached at 722-3350.

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