This church was founded by Baptist Mid-Missions of Cleveland, Ohio. Baptist Mid-Missions is a worldwide mission agency committed to the establishing of independent Baptist churches throughout the world. Their support and guidance under the direction of the Holy Spirit is deeply appreciated.
The initial work here in Augusta was started by Rev. Claude J. Wivell of Pennsylvania. Rev. Wivell and his family were previously missionaries to the Belgian, Congo. When they could not return to Africa, it was decided to open an independent work here in Augusta, Maine.
The Wivell’s moved to a home on Sewall Street in September of 1960. The initial work consisted of a systematic house-to-house visitation program. Pastor Wivell learned of an unused church building on Church Hill Road. The trustees were located, and they agreed to make the building available rent-free. During the fall, the pastor and a small group spent many hours repairing the old church building. The building needed roof repairs, sheet rock, paint, structural repair etc.
On January 15, 1961, services were begun in this previously closed church building. For his first meeting, Rev. Wivell placed the following ad in the Kennebec Journal - "Returned missionary will be showing slides about his work in Africa." The ad was apparently a success because approximately forty people came. However, the process of actually organizing a church was not a simple matter. For the next three years, with much prayer and hard work, Rev. Wivell worked with the handful of people that came.
The Augusta Baptist Church held its first organizational meeting on January 16, 1964. A church constitution was adopted on August 20, 1964, and the church officially incorporated October 16, 1964.
During the early years of the church, Pastor Wivell was spreading God's word on Radio Station WFAU. This was an early morning program called “Light From The Bible." This program brought God's word to many people until it was discontinued in 1967.
The congregation and Pastor were indeed thankful for the renovated old church building, and it served well until November of 1969. The sanctuary was heated originally by two wood heaters. The only chimney in the building was in the kitchen addition. It was necessary to have a long stove pipe running diagonally across the auditorium This pipe at times would drip creosote and the people would have to shift positions These stoves were later replaced with oil space heaters. The kitchen addition was heated by wood and coal. During the early spring of 1968, the enclosure around the
chimney caught fire and burned up through the ceiling. The Sunday school program was interrupted, but quick work with a hammer and shovel removed the burning material and it was taken outside. The air had a smell of smoke, but the morning service was only ten minutes late.
On January 8, 1965, the church held its first annual business meeting. The sum of $2,457.00 was adopted as the 1965 budget. This budget included the first missionaries to receive support from our church, Rev. & Mrs. Jack Peters. During this year the pastor and approximately eight families, decided that we must move if the church family was to grow. After several attempts to find a good location, the church purchased 12 acres on December 29, 1966. This new lot had a frontage of nearly 400 feet on North Belfast Avenue and was obtained for $4,700.00.
In March of 1968 Rev. David Selden, missionary builder under Baptist Mid-Missions, visited with us and drew up initial plans for a new church building. Throughout the winter of 1968-69, the Planning committee met regularly and with much prayer and work, drew up final plans for the new church building.
While helping to clear the building site, Pastor Wivell broke his ankle. However, with the aid of crutches, he continued to supervise and to bring God’s Word each Sunday.
In May of 1969 the building site had been cleared and the foundation poured. In June, Rev. David Selden and Rev. John McKittrick came to guide us in the actual construction of the building. These two men and their families were an inspiration to us all. The McKittrick family moved into the Pastor's basement and the Selden family spent most of the summer living in a tent on the church property. They never complained about the rainy weather even though the black flies and mosquitoes were especially friendly.
Rev. Howard Moses, a missionary to Germany, and volunteers from Pennsylvania also came to assist us for a short time. Throughout the summer and on into the fall the work progressed, because (as in Nehemiah 4:6) “The people had a mind to work."
November 2, 1969, is a day to be much remembered. Sunday School was held as usual in the old building on Church Hill Road. Then, we said farewell to the old building and went to our own new church building for the first service. Truly Psalms 100:4-5 has meaning to us "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations."
During the fall and winter, the members worked to put finishing touches on the building. Because of the efforts of many, the church building was completed at a cost of $31,200. On October 11, 1970, the new building was dedicated with Rev. Denzel Osburn of Baptist Mid-Missions bringing the message of dedication.
In April of 1971, Pastor Wivell completed his ministry in Augusta and left to start a new work in Kittery, Maine.
By unanimous vote, the church called Rev. Glenn Gardiner a missionary serving in South Shawinigan, Quebec Rev. Gardiner assumed his duties in June of 1971. Under his guidance and teaching, the congregation has grown in number and in the knowledge of God's word,
On June 1, 1973, Leon F. Small, Jr., a member of our church and a graduate of Baptist Bible College, was ordained and commissioned by the church as a missionary to Brazil. With God's help Rev Small and his family hoped to start a work in a new area of Brazil. Stephen Wivell, son of Pastor Wivell, went on to serve God as a missionary to Australia.
"Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation." Psalms 68:19 Truly the Lord has been good to the church family since our first budget in 1965 our income has continued to grow. This has made it possible to work steadily toward self-support. Truly1 March 29, 1976, was a proud day for the congregation. Loan #9939 on the new building was paid in full.
We praise the Lord for the faithfulness of those churches who have continued to send support to our two missionary pastors. After many years of faithful service, Pastor Wivell went to be with the Lord in 2001. It is our prayer, that with God's help we can also have a much larger share in supporting missionary work.
In the summer of 1976 the church called Pastor and Mrs. Bruce Felt and their four children as our first Pastor under our recently achieved self-supporting status.
The parsonage, including 57 acres of land, was purchased in 1979 for $40,000 after being rented from Alton & Catherine Savage. In 1984 11 acres of that were sold to make a balloon payment on the mortgage, then completely paid off in 1994. With the help of God many improvements have been made to it over the years.
The church building was extended 16 feet in 1979 adding 10 more pews. A shed was cut in half with one half attached to the rear of the church for storage, and the other moved away from the building as additional storage. The originally installed 32-year-old carpet was replaced with new carpeting in the spring of 2001 with tremendous help from Gary Norris Flooring.
A few of our youth went on to Bible school, one becoming a pastor’s wife – one a missionary wife. By the grace of our Lord over the years, Pastor Felt has had the privilege to assist several in baptism and being added to the church membership.
A radio broadcast entitled, "The Bible For Today" was started and continued over two local stations for a period of four years. A continuing ministry at the Maine Veteran's Home was started in 1989.
Sadly for those of us remaining behind in 1998, Joan Norris, the last remaining of the charter membership, went home to spend eternity with her beloved Savior. Her warmth, cheer and devotion to the Lord was a great inspiration to all.
The provisions given by our Lord through offerings have allowed our missions giving to be expanded from $800 - $24,000 annually.
August 2001, Pastor Bruce Felt gave his resignation after 25-years of dedicated leadership, fellowship and friendship to the members of Augusta Baptist Church. The wisdom and spiritual strength that God bestowed upon Pastor Felt has been an inspiration to all throughout the years. His dedication to God’s word has been evident in his personal life, his family and his care for the church membership. Bruce and Valetta Felt will be greatly missed.
On Sunday May 5, 2002 Pastor Howard Cole became the new pastor of Augusta Baptist Church. During his ministry the church celebrated their 50th anniversary since they began to meet in 1961. He was admired for his deep knowledge of the Scriptures and his aptness to teach. He was faithful in duties to the church including visiting the sick until June, 2019 when his own health prevented him from continuing.
Pastor Steve Snell was called to become the church's fifth pastor in July, 2020. His name was suggested to the church by former pastor Glenn Gardiner. At the age of 48, upon completing the requirements for the 4-year Diploma of Biblical Studies at Emmanuel Baptist Bible Institute, Moncton, NB, Canada, he began his ministry career doing pulpit supply. Then in March, 2013 he was called to pastor Moser River Independent Baptist Church in Moser River, NS where he was ordained. He and his wife moved from Nova Scotia in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, thanks to the Lord for opening the doors at the borders. Significant labor by the members was bestowed upon the parsonage prior to their arrival.
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