Mapleton United Baptist celebrates 150 years

Terry Sandusky, Special to The County
9 months ago

On Saturday evening, Sept. 23 the members of the Mapleton United Baptist Church will reach 150 years since its organization. In Dr. Dena Winslow’s “1880-1980 Mapleton Maine” history, Rev. and Mrs. Elliott Anderson writes, “The following quotation is from the earliest records: ‘At an early date of this settlement (Balls Mills later named Mapleton), the Christian hearts were drawn together in Christian love. And encouragement of Reverends Stephins and Given decided to meet on February 23, 1861 to organize themselves into a church.’” The church was named the “First Free Baptist Church”.

Mapleton United Baptist Church will celebrate 150 years of organized worship in Mapleton (originally Balls Mills) this Saturday by burying a time capsule that will be opened in 50 years. A banquet will follow the time capsule ceremony at the church. Tickets will be needed for the banquet. There is no charge for the banquet. (Courtesy of Terry Sandusky)

Church and parsonage construction and renovation occurred on several occasions. For the first 30 years after organization, the church met in the Old Mill Schoolhouse. In the early 1890s, the church helped the Mapleton Methodists build their church and then began building the Baptist church in 1892. Later in 1959, an addition was built on to the church and a new entrance added. Shortly after the turn of the century, a parsonage was built next to the church and remained in use until 2020 when the parsonage was determined to need extensive and costly renovations, so the decision was made to demolish the parsonage and repurpose the empty lot for other future use.

In the 1920’s, members of the church decided to change their church affiliation and join with the United Baptist Convention of Maine that was part of what was known nationally as the “Northern Baptist Convention”,  and was later renamed “American Baptist Churches of the U.S.A.”  Mapleton Baptist remains a member church of the American Baptist fellowship and is part of the North Aroostook American Baptist Association.

Through the years, the Mapleton Baptist Church has been an active part of the community through joint efforts to provide children and youth biblical information. They participated with other community churches in annual rotating vacation Bible school sites. Also the church became an active partner of the Baptist School of Christian Training especially when the program secured the land needed to develop a campground, which became known as “Baptist Park of Mapleton”.  Many children and youth of the area spent their summers attending or working at Baptist Park as a result of the support of the church.

Today the church continues its outreach to the community through participation in Mapleton Daze. The church sponsors a corn hole tournament and partners with three other community churches to provide free breakfast sandwiches and an evening worship music during Mapleton Daze week. Recently, members of the church participated in a fundraiser for Family Radio WFST over at State Road Advent Christian Church. 

Mapleton United Baptist Church has continuously stood as a witness for God for 150 years during times of war, pandemics and economic downturns. Most recently the church continued its worship through the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the sanctuary was painted and redecorated. In this photo, the COVID-19 social distance seating can be seen during a pandemic Sunday morning worship.
(Courtesy of Terry Sandusky)

The most significant recent change made at the church occurred in 2015 when Rev. Kenneth Phelps retired and Rev. James Ackerson became the current church pastor through a mutual arrangement with Bethany Baptist Church in Presque Isle. Pastor Ackerson pastors both churches with assistance from Mapleton Baptist Associate Pastor Michael Ireland. Members of both churches are able to attend special joint programs, activities and fellowship events while still remaining as separate churches with their own budgets and worship customs. Both churches have a long rich history in their service to God and his people in the area.

Mapleton United Baptist Church has continuously stood as a witness for God for 150 years during which there was the Civil War, two world wars, Korean and Vietnam wars, the great influenza epidemic, the 9-11 Twin Towers attack and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Most recently the church continued its worship through the COVID-19 pandemic. The church recognizes the gospel message has not changed over the years but methods of presenting or delivering that message. The most recent change to the church’s worship service is the live streaming of the service on Facebook.  These ongoing changes support the church slogan,  “150 years and we have just begun”.

To celebrate 150 years of the Mapleton United Baptist Church, a time capsule has been assembled that contains photos of the church and Mapleton and other information and items that may be of interest 50 years from now. Saturday at 5 p.m. the time capsule will be buried at the church to be open in 2073.  Following the capsule burial, a celebration banquet will be held at the church.  Present and former members and anyone else are invited to attend the celebration. Seating will be limited so tickets are being issued to those who wish to attend. To get tickets, please contact 

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.