WINTERPORT, Maine — Members of Calvary Apostolic Church have their eyes on the future.
Since their building on Route 1A was destroyed by fire in May, they have been holding services at Winterport Baptist Church on Coles Corner Road.
The Rev. Tom Channell said Sunday members hope that by next month they will have their own space, at least temporarily. Church leaders will go before the Hampden Planning Board on Wednesday to seek approval to use the former Hampden Physical Therapy and Balance Center, owned by Penobscot Community Health and Counseling, on Coldbrook Road until the congregation can rebuild or purchase a suitable property.
“There’s nothing that says we can’t stay here,” Channell said Sunday after Calvary’s 2 p.m. service at Winterport Baptist. “But moving forward in the rebuilding process, renting space seems like a step in the right direction.”
Channell said that a lease has not been signed.
A legal notice about Wednesday’s meeting published Dec. 31 in the Bangor Daily News classified advertising section said the church is seeking a conditional use permit and a review of its site plan for the property at 117 Coldbrook Road.
The congregation has proposed using 2,350 square feet of the 6,000-square-foot building, according to the legal ad. The site plan review is required under the town’s post-construction stormwater management ordinance. The property has been vacant for about eight months.
“This would be an interim step while we consider the next step,” Channell said Sunday. “We are looking at various options and considering what would be good for the church.”
The month after the fire, Channell said the church would rebuild on the site of their original building just north of Winterport village. Over the past several months, God has opened up other possibilities, the pastor said.
He said the Coldbrook Road site was appealing because it had a large open area formerly used as a gym and smaller rooms for Sunday school classes and an office. It is located a short distance from Route 202, with adequate parking.
The fire that destroyed the Calvary Apostolic Church Building was set by Hancock resident Wilber “Wes” Strout III, 20, the son of a former pastor of the church, according to previous reports.
Strout broke into the church on Route 1A sometime on May 5 through a rear window and spread a flammable liquid throughout the worship area and in front of the altar, according to investigating officials. He then doused himself and started the fire, which was noticed by a passer-by around 10 a.m.
While the church was burning, Strout jumped out a second-story window. His charred body was discovered by responding firefighters. The United Pentecostal church was burned to the ground, and a state medical examiner ruled the young man’s death a suicide.
Strout was a church member who moved a few months before his death to Maine from North Carolina, where he lived with his father, the Rev. Wilbur Strout II, who served as pastor of Calvary Apostolic Church for 17 years, from 1984 to 2001.
That is part of the church’s history, Channell said.
“Overall, people have moved on as well as they can,” he said when asked to assess how members of his congregation were doing eight months after the fire. “I can’t say all have forgotten it, but overall, people are doing well. We’ve turned a bright eye toward the future.”
Bangor Daily News writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained an error in a photo caption. The possible future site of the Calvary Apostolic Church is at 177 Coldbrook Road in Hampden, not Hermon.