Local churches honor pastor

6 years ago

On Sunday, Oct. 14, the Mapleton United and Bethany Baptist Churches hosted a celebration luncheon for their shared pastor, Rev. James Ackerson, to honor the recent 25th anniversary of his ordination into the pastorate.  

He was ordained Oct. 31, 1993, at the East Millinocket Baptist Church.  

Longtime personal friend Rev. Kenneth Phelps was the master of ceremonies for the afternoon, and reviewed the highlights of Pastor Ackerson’s pastoral ministry.

Ackerson grew up in Oakfield.  After high school, he enrolled at the University of Maine at Orono with the plan to become a music educator.  While there, he felt the call of the Lord to the ministry which led him to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  

Orlin Smith of Bethany Baptist Church, left, presents Pastor James Ackerson with a plaque commemorating his 26 years of ministry and the 25th anniversary of his ordination. Looking on is Debbie Ackerson, the pastor’s wife. (Courtesy of Terry Sandusky)

To make it through college, he worked in the kitchen on campus and worked in landscaping during the summers.  In 1992, Ackerson earned a master of divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell.

His first pastorate was the East Millinocket church, followed by his call to be the pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in 1996.  He moved his wife, Debbie, and their four children (Nathan, Kristin, Lauren and Erin) to Presque Isle.

His ministry at Bethany Baptist has been characterized by expository preaching, development of creative church outreach such as hot chocolate at the Holiday Light Parade and serving snacks at the Street Fair during the Crown of Maine Balloon Fest. He also started the Boys Brigade at the church.

A few years ago, Ackerson became a member of Corporate Chaplains of America, and at the request of Columbia Forest Products he became the company chaplain here in Presque Isle.  In the summer, he is an active member of Baptist Park Camp staff. He manages the camp’s zip line, teaches in the camp’s flight week and leads worship and Bible study at the camp.

In 2016, following the retirement of Rev. Phelps at Mapleton United Baptist Church, Rev. Ackerson assumed the joint pastorate of both Bethany and Mapleton Baptist churches.  Each Sunday morning, he leads the Mapleton worship service starting at 9:30 a.m., then quickly travels back to Presque Isle to lead the Bethany Baptist worship service at 11 a.m.  He also leads the two churches in combined worship and special events.

As a special memento of the anniversary celebration, Orlin Smith of Bethany Baptist presented Ackerson with a plaque to commemorate his 26 years in the ministry, including his 25 years as an ordained minister.

Senior citizens

On Monday, Dec. 3, at 11:30 a.m., the Mapleton, Chapman and Castle Hill Senior Citizens group will hold their next meeting.   

Caroline Ballerstein reminds everyone over age 55, you are invited to attend and join the group.  Please keep in mind the luncheon is potluck and is enjoyed by all who attend because the food is really great.

Town Office news

The Mapleton Town Office reports there will be a rabies clinic at the Presque Isle Animal Hospital on Dec. 1 from 1-2 p.m.

The Town Office is now registering dogs for 2019.  Come in and register before Jan. 31 and beat the $25 late fee.

Terry Sandusky is the Star-Herald correspondent for Mapleton, Chapman and Castle Hill and can be reached at 764-4916 or at starherald.Tsandusky@gmail.com.