A Brief History of our Church

We mark the beginning of our congregation with the evangelical witness of Jessie Lee, a Circuit Rider from Lynn Massachusetts, who ventured into these parts on September 12, 1793.   Although he was in Bath only a few days, he managed to organize a Methodist Class of six people before he continued on his circuit through Readfield to Farmington.  

The little band of six soon became a larger congregation, and in 1820 Charles Virgin donated land for the first Methodist Meetinghouse in Bath.   That meetinghouse was square and plain; and it was said that, were it not for the glass windows, it would have been mistaken for a barn.   The Wesley Methodist Church building on lower Washington Street (presently owned by investors) was later built on that same land.   In 1852, the congregation had grown large enough that it divided into two groups, and a year later a second meetinghouse was built in the north end of the city at the corner of Washington and Beacon streets.   To distinguish the two congregations, the Methodists in the south end of town chose to call themselves the Wesley Church, after John Wesley, and the folks in the north end of town called themselves the Beacon Street Church.   Both congregations flourished; and in fact, the Sunday School at the Beacon Street Church grew so fast that while their church building was under construction in 1853, 18 teachers were holding classes for 98 pupils in a local school.  

The two congregations, which had begun life as a single entity, again became a single congregation in 1971, under the leadership of the Rev. Lewis Beckford, this time taking up their common life in the Beacon Street Building.   The Wesley Church was then sold.

Over the years, two major fires directed the course of events for the Methodists of Bath.   In July of 1898 the Wesley Church burned in a disastrous fire, but by September the congregation had begun to rebuild the present Wesley Church building.   On August 5, 1981 the steeple of the Beacon Street Church was struck by lightning, setting fire to the upper story.   The building was salvaged and remodeled and was dedicated in 1983 by the Rev. Vicki Woods.

The beautiful building on Beacon Street served its congregation well since 1853, but had limitations for the 21st century.   So, land on Oak Grove Avenue was acquired, plans were developed and with the help of God (along with financing from the conference) a new building was built.   In 2007 our historic congregation moved into our beautiful new home.   And it is in keeping with our Methodist tradition of service to the world in obedience to Christ, that we look forward to the future.