Our congregation is blessed to worship in an historic treasure. First Parish Church in York has its roots in the 1630s, making it the oldest congregation in continuous existence in Maine. Our church was founded in the Anglican tradition by York’s first settlers. In 1636, the first church, an oratory or meetinghouse, was erected on land granted by the Church of England to Sir Ferdinando Gorges. The oratory was to be built for the purpose of worship. This meetinghouse was located in York Harbor near the site of St. George’s Episcopal Church today. In 1667, a second meetinghouse was constructed using all new materials with the exception of the seats from the previous meetinghouse. In colonial times, the meetinghouse was also used for civic purposes. Public meetings were held in the building as well as meetings for the provincial government. By 1710, the second meetinghouse was deemed unsafe and out of repair. A special town meeting was held and it was decided to construct a new meetinghouse on the north side of the old burying ground, our current location. The classic New England church in which we worship today is the fourth meetinghouse to be erected by the parishioners. Constructed in 1747, the building faced west in the direction of the present parish house. In 1882, it was decided that the building would look better facing the road and the village green. The church was lifted up, turned, and set back 20 feet to its present location. The beautiful steeple, the most notable architectural feature, was also added in 1882. Recently the steeple has undergone renovation, including repair work on the clock face and restoration of the base and belfry. Our classic New England church is a prominent and beautiful part of York.
Historic changes in our congregation’s religious affiliations have also occurred in our church’s 375 year history. As the Puritan Congregational movement spread throughout the colonies, the congregation left the Anglican tradition behind. In 1673 the Reverend Shubael Dummer was ordained as the church’s first Congregational minister. In 1957, the Congregationalists became part of the United Church of Christ. Today we are joined together in ministry with the other 172 Congregational, United Church of Christ, Churches here in Maine.