“The Lobsterman” Photo by Neal Parent

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Documents

Historical Timeline

Church Founding, 1808The year was 1808 when a group of nine people met in a private home in Camden village to organize a church. They continued to meet, pray and worship in private homes and schoolhouses for about 30 years to organize what was known as the Second Baptist Church. Its membership was up and down during this period, until 1836 when the Maine Baptist Convention sent Elder Kimball to both inspire and help them. He was successful in gathering the flock together and adding new members.
The Church Building, 1837Encouraged by their new awakening they set about to build a house of worship in 1837 located on the village green overlooking the lovely Camden Harbor, where it still stands today. The building itself was to be 52 feet by 40 feet and divided to contain 60 pews, which would cost about fifty dollars apiece more or less “according to location or situation.”
The Civil War YearsBy the year 1864, Rev. Nathaniel Butler had become the pastor and remained until 1868, except for a brief time during the winter of 1864-65 during the Civil war which he spent in Washington DC, as the private secretary to the then Vice President Hannibal Hamlin.
Changes and Additions in the Late 19th CenturyThe present parsonage was built on Belmont Avenue in 1896. This charming home for the pastors of the church for many years to come was built largely from legacies left in the estates of two members, Darius Sherman and Mary E. Thomas.
A fine pipe organ was installed in the church sanctuary in 1881 and served faithfully for 71 years, replacing a melodeon (a small reed organ).

A baptistry was installed in 1890. Previously, baptisms had been held at the head of Sherman ‘s Cove or occasionally at Megunticook Lake.

Several memorial windows have been added from time to time, the most prominent being the lighted scene of the “Good Shepherd” which has given the church the name of “The Church with the Lighted Window.”
James Perry, Foreign Missionary and Martyr, 1912In 1912 James Perry was licensed by Chestnut Street Baptist Church to preach the Gospel. Subsequently he became the first foreign missionary to go abroad from our church. He went to work in the Middle East under the YMCA, which was at that time very evangelical, in contrast to today’s “Y’s,” which are virtually exclusively committed to providing facilities and programs for physical and social benefit.
Painting and Repainting the Church, 1920sIn 1926, four summer families purchased the property left vacant when the Old Bay View Hotel burned down. They gave it to the town for the purpose of a village green. In 1928 the church was painted yellow at a cost of $245. The following year, Mrs. Edward Bok offered to pay for the paint and labor to have the church repainted white in order to provide better harmony with the village green.
The Church Spire Replaced in 1980The church’s spire, a visible landmark ever pointing the way to God, was taken down in 1853, when many planks of wood rotted out and the structure was deemed unsafe.
Unfortunately it was necessary to remove the beautiful spire again in 1887 for many of the same reasons.

“For twenty years its lofty height had made it a landmark for the many ships navigating the bay and river.”

It was again replaced in 1980, when an aspiring Eagle Scout from Camden , Billy Young, determined to replace the spire to earn his Eagle Scout rank. The 34 foot tall spire was designed by architect Christopher Glass.

It has held the town clock since 1868.
The 126th Birthday of the ChurchOn the occasion of its 126th birthday, Pastor LeRoy Campbell wrote in his book , The History of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church :
“It must be remembered that the church has contributed more to the community than can ever be described on paper. Through storm and stress it has ever pointed the way to the better life and has imparted to its members comfort and hope however short of perfection it may itself at times have fallen. After five years of world-wide depression and social revolution, it still faces the future with faith in its mission and courage to carry on.”
Part of a long legacyThe church has ordained, licensed, and sent into Christ’s ministry several of its own young men throughout the years. It has also had the privilege of seeing others of its youth in Christian service in Mission fields and Christian outreach within our own country.
Thirty-four pastors have served the Chestnut Street Baptist Church since its beginning with Pastor Adam Kohlstrom serving as current pastor, having been installed on June 15, 2008.