[p. 70]TURNER BAPTIST CHURCH.
THE Town of Turner, formerly called Sylvester Plantation, was settled in 1775. In 1784, a Presbyterian church was organized, consisting of fifteen members. In 1803, it became Congregational. Between the years 1784 and 1803, James Potter, a Baptist elder, visited Turner and baptized three or four. In 1792, a Baptist Society was organized, composed of inhabitants of Buckfield and Turner, twenty-four of these lived in Turner, but many of the members appeared to have no fixed religious principles, and none of them ever became identified with the interests of the Baptist church afterward organized in Turner.
In 1811, Rev. Lewis Leonard of Albany, visited the town, preached a few weeks and baptized two persons. In 1816, there was quite an extensive revival of religion in Turner, chiefly in connection with the Congregational church. Ten of the individuals united with the Baptist church in Minot—now Auburn. Rev. Nathaniel Chase and Rev. George Ricker were often with them.
In 1824, about twenty Baptist members resided in town, and a revival commenced which led to the formation of the Turner Baptist church, on May 12, 1824. The church consisted of twenty-three members, the greater part of which had been dismissed from the following Baptist churches, viz.: Hebron, Minot, Buckfield, First and Second Livermores, Canton, Leeds and Greene. The following delegates and elders assembled at the house of Nathan Cole at ten o'clock, A. M.:
Elder George Ricker, John Woodman, Thomas Record; from the Hebron church, Deacons William Barrows, James Donham and Alden Bumpus; from the Buckfield church, Elder Nathaniel Chase, Deacons Stephen Benson and Job Prince; from the First [p. 71] Livermore church, Elder David Nutter, Deacon Charles Barrell, Reuben Wing, Dexter Walker, Eben Pitts and Mayhew Chase; from the Second Livermore church, Elder Ransom Norton and Deacon Seth Beals.
As no house of worship could be obtained for the services of organizing, they were held in Deacon Cole's barn, which had been prepared for the purpose. A sermon was preached by Elder Ripley from Acts, 11:23. Satisfactory answers having been given to certain questions proposed by Elder Nutter, he presented to each the right hand of fellowship, and they were publicly recognized as a church of Christ.
Having made choice of brothers Nathan Cole and Thomas Merrill for deacons, they were solemnly set apart and ordained by prayer and the laying on of hands by the Elders, after which Deacon Charles Barrell of the First Livermore church extended the right hand of fellowship. Public worship was held in this barn, in the village school-house, and in private houses until 1826, when a meeting-house was completed. In October, 1824, the church was admitted to the Cumberland Association, and in 1828 was dismissed with other churches to form Oxford Association.
The church was favored with the labors of Elders Wilson and Nutter and others until September, 1827, when Rev. Adam Wilson was called to take pastoral charge of the church. This he consented to do, spending thirty-six weeks with them during the year. They agreed to give him one hundred dollars in money, thirty dollars in clothing, his board, and horse keeping. In 1828, he left this charge to go to Buxton.
In January of 1829, Rev. John Hull became pastor, remaining with them until his death in August of the same year. The number of members at this time was sixty-eight. The church had enjoyed the continuous presence of God's spirit, ever since its organization, and many were added to it.
In 1830, Charles Miller, a native of Scotland, moved to Turner, and took pastoral charge, to preach three-fourths of the time. He continued as pastor until March, 1833, baptizing new members nearly every month. Twenty-three were added. In 1832, the church numbered ninety-two. A committee was chosen whose duty it was· to look after delinquent members; which duty, judging by the records, was faithfully performed. All members, who were absent from the covenant meeting three [p. 72] times in succession, were interviewed or received a letter to learn the reason of such neglect.
Elder Miller was succeeded by Rev. William O. Grant, from the church in Litchfield, January, 1834. He remained until February, 1835. Rev. Josiah Houghton succeeded Mr. Grant in November, 1835, and continued with the church until his death. Mr. Houghton was well known in the State and denomination during his ministry; was a man of strong intellectual abilities; was original in thought; and often deeply impressive in his preaching. He died like a christian soldier, May 22, 1848, at the age of forty-eight.
Rev. Eliab Coy performed the duties of a pastor, without becoming a member of the church, from December, 1838, until the latter part of 1839. Rev. Thomas F. Curtis was ordained to the Baptist ministry on May 7, 1840, and became pastor of Turner Baptist church. He resigned his charge in October, 1840. The church now numbered one hundred and thirty.
Rev. Adam Wilson succeeded Mr. Curtis and became pastor of the church a second time, in September, 1841. He closed his relations with the church in September, 1843, and was succeeded by Nathaniel Butler, who came in April, 1844, and was ordained in October, 1845.
The following is a quotation from a history of the church, which Mr. Butler prepared for the minutes of 1849:
"During the remainder of the year after the church was organized, (1824), the presence of the Spirit was enjoyed. Nineteen were added by baptism; in 1825, seventeen; in 1826, nine."
From 1826 to 1831, but five were baptized, the church then numbering sixty-nine. During the year 1832, twenty-two were added by baptism, and the number increased to eighty-eight. From 1832 to 1837, none were baptized, but three were received by letter. From 1837 to 1839, inclusive, twenty-six were baptized. In 1840, thirty were baptized, and the church then numbered one hundred and thirty.
From 1840 to 1847, nineteen were baptized, and twenty added by letter. In 1847, six were excluded, and in 1847 and 1848, nine were baptized. The year 1849 was marked by abundant answer to prayer, in many conversions. Almost the entire church experienced a revival. Sixty were added, increasing its number to one hundred and eighty-six. Thus it appears that [p. 73] God has signally blessed the efforts of those pioneers, who worked with faith and patience that Christ's cause should be built up.
We quote again from Mr. Butler:
"With reference to its faith in christian doctrine, we think it has steadily adhered to that which it professed at its organization to believe as the scriptures of divine truth reveal. Its failures in the perfect practice of this must be confessed; but it has never desired a departure, either in faith or practice, from the foundation which its great Head has laid."
Rev. Mr. Butler was a faithful and much loved pastor. He was but a boy in years, but endowed with rich gifts: the true spirit of love for the cause of Christ; and a personality which endeared him to all who knew him. Even the children loved him, and would follow wherever he led the way. He left this church in 1850, to take up state missionary work.
July, 5, 1851, Mr. Charles Ayer of Charlestown, Massachusetts, succeeded Mr. Butler. On September 9, he was ordained at Turner, and he resigned this pastorate, October 27, 1853. March 29, 1854, Rev. L. D. Hill was installed pastor. He remained four years, during which time an extensive revival was enjoyed. Thirty-four were added by baptism and four by letter. He closed his pastorate, October 3, 1858. There were two hundred and two members at this time.
The next pastor was H. B. Marshall. He began his labors, October, 1859, and closed in May, 1862. November 1, 1862, Rev. Abner Morrill became pastor and remained until July, 1864. At this time the church numbered one hundred and fifty-nine.
January 1, 1865, Rev. John Richardson became pastor. In 1867, the church was rebuilt, being dedicated, January, 1868. During Mr. Richardson's pastorate, nine were added to the church by letter, and nine by baptism. His pastorate closed, January, 1869.
Rev. Isaiah Record succeeded Mr. Richardson. This pastorate commenced July 15, 1869, and he was ordained at Turner. Thirty-two were added by baptism, one by experience and four by letter. His pastorate closed, September, 1876. The next pastor was A. A. Smith, of Richford, Vermont. He was ordained in Turner, and began his labors in January, 1877. Three [p. 74] were received by baptism, two by experience and two by letter. He ended his pastorate here, March 30, 1879, to go to Sumner.
Rev. S. A. Severance was the next pastor, beginning July 31, 1881. This pastorate lasted less than two years. Four by baptism were reported. Through the efforts of this pastor, a debt of five hundred dollars incurred in rebuilding the church was paid. Personal subscriptions were solicited and, with the help of Mr. Mellen Bray, J. A. D. Gross, of Newton, Massachusetts, and Judge Percival Bonney of Portland, the whole amount was raised.
Rev. C. F. Clark of Calais, commenced his labors as pastor here, October, 1883. He was a faithful pastor for four years and during this time six were added by baptism. He closed his relations with the church, February, 1887.
Mr. Clark was succeeded by Rev. N. G. French in November, 1887. Mr. French was an earnest, and self sacrificing worker. He succeeded in building up the church spiritually, and improved the business management of the church. Quite a revival was enjoyed, twenty being added to the church by baptism. His labors closed in August, 1892. The church passed resolutions commending his faithfulness as a pastor, and his support of every social and moral reform.
Rev. E. A. Cranston became pastor in August, 1893, and remained one and a half years when he was obliged to give up preaching on account of throat trouble. His resignation took place in May, 1895. In October of the same year, Rev. F, S. Leathers became pastor; he resigned, May, 1896.
November, 1896, Rev. F. H. Pratt accepted a call to the pastorate and he was ordained in Turner. Mr. Pratt was a faithful and highly esteemed pastor. He was faithful, not only in his immediate church duties, but his work reached into the surrounding districts, and many homes received inspiration from his ministries. Twelve were added to the church by baptism. His work closed in September, 1900. Rev. C. P. Kittridge succeeded Mr. Pratt in February, 1901. Mr. Kittridge was an earnest, hard working pastor. He remained nearly two years, closing his pastorate in November, 1902. Rev. J. D. King's pastorate began, May 1, 1903, and closed, July, 1904. He baptized two persons. The present membership of this church is fifty-nine. [p. 75] The names of the ordained ministers who proceeded from this church, are: Revs. Phillip Chamberlain, Lucius Bradford, Lyman Chase. Sewall Benson received his license from this church in 1843, and Lyman Chase in 1847.
Amos Harris, a native of Turner, was baptized into the fellowship of this church, by Rev. N. Butler, July 1, 1849. He was graduated from Bowdoin College in 1859, and from Newton Theological Seminary in 1862. He was licensed to preach by the Baptist church in Brunswick and began his first pastorate in Medfield, Massachusetts, November, 1862, and was pastor until December, 1865. In January, 1866, he began a pastorate in Arlington, Massachusetts, from which he resigned in December, 1874. In January of 1875, he entered upon a pastorate in Weston, Massachusetts, and remained until his resignation in November, 1890. He has resided in Everett since 1890, and, during this time, has been actively engaged in supplying churches in and around Boston.
William E. Lombard, also a native of Turner, was licensed by this church. He was graduated from Colby and from Newton Theological Seminary and was ordained at Brewer, where he served as pastor. He left there in October, 1898, to become pastor of a church in Camden, where he is still preaching.
The following are the names of the constituent members of the Baptist church of Turner, organized, May 12, 1824:
Edward Packard, Salmon Reckards, Thomas Merrill, Nathan Cole, Gustavus Newell, Alanson Cary, Paschal Barrell, Philip Chamberlain, Mary Hodsdon, Nancy Merrill, Lydia Newell, Rebecca Cole, Susan Cary, Silence Cary, Amy Jones, Olive Jones, Louisa Bradford, Temperance Cushing, Judith Harris, Lucy Bassett, Eunice Chase, Rebecca Chamberlain, Lurana Chamberlain.
In April, 1850, the ladies of the Baptist church and society organized a society which they named "The Baptist Ladies' Circle." Its object was to aid in all the interests of the church, spiritual, social, and financial, and as the years have passed, from 1850 to the present year, 1905, they have proved themselves loyal and efficient workers. In looking over the records, we find that in the year 1867 their available funds amounted to $713.26. In 1868, this sum increased to $1,080.00. From this they gave the helping hand in the purchase of the pipe organ, also on the [p. 76] indebtedness of the church; and, as we follow this little band of workers down from year to year, we find them alive to all the interests of the church. The past three years they have paid all the running expenses of the church, excepting the pastor's salary.
The deacons chosen at organization were Nathan Cole and Thomas Merrill. Those who have held the office since are :
Hiram Donham, Alanson Cary, Thomas Waterman, Henry C. Berry, Azor Barrell, William L. Bonney, Seth D. Andrews, Albert T. Packard, William H. French, C. K. Dillingham, C. E. Kempton, E. Herbert Cole, William E. Irish, Edson Briggs.
The following have held the office of clerk:
Alanson Cary, 1824-1829; Arcadius Pettengill, 1829-1833; William Harris, 1833-1839; Arcadius Pettengill, 1839-1842; Isaac Gross, 1842-1846; Hiram Donham, 1846-1856; Isaac Gross, 1856-1867; William L. Bonney, 1867-1873; Albert Packard, 1873-1879; W. A. Dresser, 1879-1881; Albert Packard, 1881-1890; O. A. Sprague, 1890-1896; W. B. French, 1896-.