EDDINGTON, Maine — The church on the bend of the Penobscot River, where Routes 178 and 9 separate, has gone through many changes in its 167 years in the same spot. The most recent can’t be seen from the road as travelers pass it on their way north or Down East.
On Sunday, the congregation held a rededication service for its redecorated sanctuary. The work included a new paint job on the walls and ceiling, new carpeting, railings, risers for the choir, upholstery, rounded and padded kneelers and a new sound and projection system.
The money for the renovation of the sanctuary came to the church from the estate of Jack and Beth Boynton. The new sound and projection system was donated by Richard and Marge Strang in memory of their son, Mark Strang.
The Rev. Tracy A. Reeves, pastor of the North Brewer-Eddington UMC, and the First United Methodist Church of Brewer on South Main Street, on Monday described the gifts from both families as “substantial,” but declined to reveal the exact amount, at the families’ requests.
Donna Boyle, the eldest of the Boynton’s three children, said her parents were very active in the church. A pew on the right side of the sanctuary, where the family regularly sat, was known as “the Boynton pew.”
Boyle of Brewer and her younger siblings, Merrill Boynton of Bradley and Lynn Wirth of Seattle, Wash., grew up in the church. Boyle and Boynton still attend, Reeves said.
“I still wear my mother’s choir robe,” Boyle said earlier this month. “She was always involved with the church. Dad did maintenance and anything that was needed.”
Jack and Beth Boynton, who died in 2011 and 2005, respectively, reminisced about their work with the congregation for a history compiled in 1996 on the occasion of the church’s 150th anniversary.
“One of the things the men did in the early 1950s was building the first floor addition,” Jack Boynton said. “At that time the Bangor Hydro was cutting a power line across Roland Adam’s land out in Eddington. It was heavily wooded. He didn’t have any use for the log;, he was interested in the pulp.
“He would give the church those logs if [church members] wanted to go get them,” he continued. “They were right in the woods where they cut them. We wrestled up three or four tractors and went up there and twitched those logs out. We hauled the logs to Leon Williams’ mill to be sawed into lumber and hauled it back and built that part of the church. It was a lot of fun getting those logs out.”
Beth Boynton did not grow up in the church, but joined after she married Jack.
“One time when passing this church with my parents on a ride to Old Town, my father pointed to this church and said, ‘That church has a woman minister — a woman minister,’” she recalled for the 1996 history.
The woman served the church from 1926 to 1930, but her name was not included in the history.
Reeves is the seventh woman minister of the 58 clergy who have served the church.
“There is the wonderful group of ladies [at the church],” Beth Boynton said in 1996. “I love this group of women. They are patient, kind, thoughtful, and generous — a wonderful group of women.
“I think churches cycle,” she continued. “This one seems to work all the harder when things are going wrong — during additions, building projects, the fire, and changes in leadership.”
Families giving money for specific projects is nothing new at the church, Reeves said. There are traditional stained glass windows dedicated to individuals from founding members to modern stained glass windows installed three years ago when the new entrance was completed.
The handicapped ramp was given to the church by Gilbert Boynton, Jack Boynton’s brother, in the 1980s. There are small plaques throughout the building dedicating one portion of the building or another to the memory of former church members.
“That is the kind of church this is,” Reeves said. “They always are thinking about those in the next generation and improving the church for them.”
North Brewer-Eddington United Methodist Church Timeline
1820 First revivals held
1846 Original church completed
1950 Water system installed
1958 Parish house built
1974 Church school addition completed
1987 Renovation completed after fire
1988 Office and nursery addition completed
2009 Entrance addition completed
2012 Sanctuary renovated