Religious Life

by Velma Teel

The people of Cranberry Isles were for many years faithful attendants at divine worship in the Manset Church near Southwest Harbor.

The Union Meeting House was erected in 1863.  At first services were held in this building by different denominations.

The first pastorate of the Congregational Denomination, began with Rev. Charles E. Harwood, 1894, and terminated with his death in 1897.  He was a man greatly respected and loved by his people.  It was according to his plans that the Meeting House was repaired and that the summer residents at Northeast Harbor began to take interest in the welfare of the community.  In memory of this faithful pastor, a circular window was placed in the chancel of the Union Meeting House.

In 1897 Rev. Charles N. Davie began a pastorate of seven years terminating in 1904.  It was during his pastorate that the Congregational Church of Cranberry Isles was organized, August 30, 1899, and that the new church building was erected and dedicated on Islesford.  His seven years of faithful service has been potent with much good for the development of religious life in this island town.

The Congregational Church of Cranberry Isles included in its oversight all the families in the town of Cranberry Isles, but for the better management of local business affairs in connection with the church, the families on the islands of Cranberry, Sutton and Bear, are incorporated as the Congregational Church of Cranberry Isles.  The families on Islesford and Baker's Island are incorporated as the Congregational Society of Islesford, Maine.

After seven years of faithful service, Rev. Mr. Davie resigned his pastorate, and on October 9, 1905, Rev. Alexander Peter MacDonald was requested to officiate as pastor for the winter, an office which he accepted, terminating his service on Sept. 30, 1906, "as he requested that he may take over the Maine Coast Missionary Work."

For five years, Mr. MacDonald, as superintendent of the Maine Sea Coast Missionary Society, frequently supplied the pulpit of the Islesford and Cranberry Churches during the winter months, while services during the summer were conducted by visiting clergymen, many of whom were of national reputation.

In the spring of 1911, a call was extended to Rev. F. W. Tingley, who began his pastorate on the first of April of that year, resigning on October 17, 1913.

On October 20, 1914, Rev. A. D. Knight assumed the duties of resident clergyman, resigning in the year of 1919.

From the time of its inception until the spring of 1918, the Islesford church organization was a part of the Congregational Church of Great Cranberry Island, but on April 3 of that year, a movement for an independent parish was undertaken, and on June 11, 1918, The Hancock Association of Congregational Churches and ministers considered the needs of a separate church organization explained by Rev. A. P. MacDonald of the Sea Coast Mission.

The council of the association having heard the records of the Cranberry Isles Congregational Church and those of the proposed Congregational Church of Islesford, together with other testimony as to the advisability of a separate church organization on the island, finds it feasible that a church be organized.

The Islesford Church began its existence with nineteen members, most of whom brought letters of dismissal from the church at Great Cranberry Island.  During the winter of 1919-20, there was no settled minister, but it is on record that Alexander Peter MacDonald was the first clergyman to minister to the newly-organized church.

In the spring of 1920, Prof. Charles G. Cumming of the Bangor Theological Seminary, was asked to supply the pulpit during the summer months and on June 1, 1920 and thereafter during every June 1 to Oct. 1 during the years 1921, 1922, 1925 - 1931 he faithfully supplied the church.

At the business meeting on Dec. 9, 1931, it was voted to call Rev. Daniel E. Fox as pastor of the church. Mr. Fox resigned in 1935.

Rev. James B. Ford began his services Sept. 22, 1935 and ended them Oct. 1, 1939.

Rev. Melvin Hutchins served the church faithfully from May 19, 1940 to May 1, 1951.

Beginning the summer of 1951, Dr. Charles Gordon Cumming became our resident pastor and has continued this faithful and valued services to the present time, 1951 - 1960.

The Book of Remembrance
Congregational Church
Cranberry Isles, Maine
by Velma S. Teel 1960

Transcribed by Sarah Newell, summer 2000

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