The purpose of the Society for the Preservation of the Free Will Baptist Church is to support a center for community activities, including community suppers, weddings, funerals, church fairs; also, to promote educational and cultural activities, including musical recitals and theatrical performances, and to preserve the building (and Vestry) known as the Free Will Baptist Church of Islesboro and also the grounds of the Greenwood Cemetery.
The Free Will Baptist church was preserved by the Free Baptist Sewing Circle of North Islesboro and was later restored by the Society for the Preservation of the Free Will Baptist Church.
When they organized the Sewing Circle in 1875, the women of North Islesboro hoped that it would be "an instrument of accomplishing much good - by satisfying many wants in God's house and..relieving the distress of the needy." To this end, they promised to avoid "all backbiting, all slandering." While the church had an active congregation, the Circle raised money by holding socials and selling their sewing. They contributed to the ministers' salaries, paid for a janitor and funded painting.
Long after the congregation had become inactive, the Circle continued meeting weekly to sew. Selling their work at an annual fair, they were able to pay for painting, repairs, shingling. Without them, the church would have disappeared with its congregation.
In 1983, the Sewing Circle closed its books and turned over more than $8,400 to the newly incorporated Society for the Preservation of the Free Will Baptist Church of Islesboro, Maine. Organized by long-time Sewing Circle members Midge Welldon and Pauline Byrd, the Society was formed to acquire legal title to the church and cemetery and to allow tax exempt fund raising to preserve the church and its historic stencils.
Under the leadership of Berna Derby, an early president, the Society obtained a place for the church on the National Register of Historic Places, undertook a fund raising campaign, restored the stencils and hand painting, and upgraded the church and grounds.
Since 1990, the church has been the home of a summer concert series. Since the summer of 1992, it has hosted the weekly Islesboro Forum. The church is also the site of weddings, funerals, vesper services, theater performances, a Christmas program and the occasional celebration.
We are still hard at work preserving this historic church and cemetery and hosting concerts and events. If you would like to help us do so, please send your tax deductible contribution to the address below, or just click to Donate!
PO Box 183
Islesboro, ME 04848