DEXTER, Maine — The Rev. George Dever got a little help from his friends during the past two weeks in renovating the Antioch Baptist Church. The Macedonia Builders brought their carpentry skills to Dexter to assist Dever in putting the former Dexter Methodist Church building into shape.
The Antioch Baptist Church moved into the building 18 months ago after purchasing the former Dexter United Methodist Church building.
Dever moved his congregation 18 months ago from its original location on the Silver Mills Road to the current one at 59 Main St. He believed the move would help his congregation grow and provide more opportunities for the ministry to affect the community.
The church was attractive to Dever because of its architecture and stained-glass windows, which date back to the 1800s. The church also is located in the center of town, which made it more accessible to grow his congregation.
But the building also had some drawbacks. It was old and in need of repairs. The previous owners had a $99,000 asking price. The Antioch Baptist Church countered with a $60,000 offer.
“After they accepted our first offer, my son told me, ‘We should’ve probably made a lower bid’ [because] $60,000 was still a lot of money for our church,” Dever said. “But we are happy with our new home and blessed that the Macedonia Builders are here to help us with the renovations.”
The Macedonia Builders are missionaries from Macedonian Missionary Services, which offer a variety of services to churches in the American Baptist Association. The MMS has two sponsoring churches: one is the Hopewell Baptist Church in Cunningham, Tenn., and the other is the Faith Missionary Baptist Church in Concord, Calif.
The Macedonia Builders provide free carpentry services to churches needing improvements. Nearly 100 missionaries brought their toolboxes to Dexter to repair the leaking roof, modernize the kitchen and install an additional restroom and nursery.
The Macedonia Builders have provided this service since 1973 to churches around the world. The missionaries arrive from all parts of the U.S. to help churches upgrade their facilities. The missionaries pay all of their own expenses to participate in the charitable endeavor.
“We tell our volunteers if you save up your money, use your vacation time and pay your own way, we will let them come here and work for free,” said Macedonia Builder Paul Lamb of Ackworth, Ga.
Lamb is a Macedonian Missionary Services board member who heard Dever’s request for assistance last year. Once Lamb heard Dever’s presentation, he knew this was a project for the missionaries.
“We came here last April to assess the church. We just fell in love with the building’s beauty and George had a wonderful vision for how the church could benefit the community,” Lamb said.
The missionaries stayed in local motels and bed and breakfasts in Dexter, Newport and Bangor during their two-week project. Some also stayed in the Foxcroft Academy dormitories. Dever was thankful that local businesses provided the missionaries with a discounted rate during their stay.
“In Dexter, the Brewster Inn and the Moosehead Trail Motor Lodge gave them a reduced rate. And Foxcroft Academy also provided their dormitories and a van for transportation at no cost. So the local support has been overwhelming and very much appreciated,” Dever said.
When Dever started the Antioch Baptist Church in 2004, he began with only 15 in his congregation.
Dever said he was called by the Lord more than seven years ago to come to Dexter. He had spent the previous four years preaching in Rome, N.Y.
“I was called to Dexter to do the Lord’s work and that’s why I’m here,” he said. “The last place on Earth I thought I’d end up is in Dexter, Maine. We are happy here and the renovations will help us grow. The church will be more comfortable and user friendly for our congregation. We are also looking to do more in the community as we grow.”
During Dever’s tenure as the Antioch Baptist Church’s pastor, he has held church services twice on Sundays, a weekly Bible study on Wednesdays, a weekly service in the local nursing home and a service for the Charleston Correctional Facility inmates. He said he believes it is the church’s mission to spread God’s word in order to make the world a better place to live.
“As Christians we haven’t done our job,” Dever said. “How do you expect to change the world for the better without doing the job God wants us to do? To do this we must spread God’s message.”
The Macedonia Builders had missionaries from more than a dozen states using their carpentry skills to renovate the church. The Macedonia Builders have a network of volunteers who rehabilitate projects all year throughout the world.