Historic First Baptist Church on the Seacoast is closing its doors after 300-plus years
The first Baptists to settle in the Seacoast region, planted a church in Kittery Point, Maine in 1682. At the time, it was part of Massachusetts.
Baptists faced, not only bloody battles with local Native Americans, but persecution for their beliefs regarding Baptism.
Sadly, 334 years later, the church is closing. Sunday, May 1st will mark its last Baptist sermon.
“It’s challenging and difficult to see,” said Pastor Matt Gladd, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Kittery Point.
He says the congregation has gotten older and many have died without new members joining. At one time, the church was a vibrant part of the community for workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Terri Bottiglio grew up Catholic and switched to the Baptist faith after meeting the Pastor last year.
“In the time I’ve been here we’ve gone from twelve people and now we’re down to six or seven. We opened up the books and took a look and realized this is more serious than we thought and we have to take action,” said Bottiglio.
But the Kittery church’s closing is also a sign of the times. According to the latest Gallup Poll, church attendance is at an all-time low in New England. New Hampshire has the least number of residents attending worship services, of any state in the U.S.
“It’s increasingly becoming post-Christian,” said Pastor Gladd.
What will become of their church building is uncertain. Currently, there are 38 churches for sale in New Hampshire. Pastor Gladd hopes they won’t have to sell it but might be able to find a local church that is interested in taking it over.