At the very beginning of the founding of the Town of Westmore in 1781, there were hopes that a church would someday grace the community. Some 300 acres were set aside “for the support of the worship of God in the township.” This land, called afterwards “the minister’s lot” waited for one hundred years to fulfill its purpose.”
– Westmore Community Church Congregational: The First 100 Years
Westmore Community Church was founded in 1893 as The First Congregational Church of Westmore when Charles O. Gill, a seminarian from Union Theological Seminary in New York, came to be its first summer pastor. Charter members signed a Constitution and began planning for the erection of a church building.
The new church building was constructed in 1894 on its present site. During a recent renovation two lists of names were discovered. Painted in green on an arch board in the Bell Tower the names are difficult to read but those that can be made out partially or completely are: “carpenters and builders of this church – 1894” _ Welch, A.D. Webster, _ W. Rash, and _ Standish; and “painters – 1919” E.S. Rose and O.E. Goss and another illegible name.
In 1895 the horse sheds were built. In 1905 a stain glass window was given to the church.
From 1921-1933 the 5th pastor of the church, the Reverend Theophilis Roots had a dream that the “church might be the center of a wholesome and holy village life” with spiritual development, prayer, study and play for all ages.
In 1934 the Community Hall was conceived and constructed by Rev. Root and a small group of Westmore farmers who went to “the minister’s lot” felled the trees, hewed and prepared the lumber and then completed the edifice where the old horse sheds had been. Since then the hall has been the main hub of town activities although some of the activities of the early years have gone by the board and others have risen in their stead.
From 1937-1944, the church voted to participate in a shared ministry with the Glover Church. The Reverend John Starie was called as their pastor. Following this successful model, the church voted to participate with Barton, Glover and West Glover in a Lake Region Parish, for shared clergy, and planning programs and projects together. This arrangement continued from 1944 – 1980.
It was during this time that the church purchased its Hammond Organ that was dedicated to Professor Cowles, a long-time summer organist.
In 1980, the church changed its name to Westmore Community Church and revised its bylaws to establish the option of Associate Membership for summer residents who were members of their regular congregations who wished to belong and contribute to the church in a meaningful way. Almost from the beginning, the partnership of year-round church members and a devoted core of summer people have contributed to the character and upkeep of the church.
In 1980, a fire destroyed the Community Hall and allowed for its complete restoration due to the dedication of the entire town and church membership. Later the name was changed to the “Fellowship Hall”.
In 1991, a beautiful multi-purpose room was added to the church building with funds left by Dorothy and Flora Emerson. It continues to be enjoyed by many on Sunday mornings and serves as a meeting place for a three-times/week exercise group and for AA on Saturday evenings. The addition provided a much needed kitchen and bathroom for the Church.
In 1992, Memorial Park was developed, in partnership with family and friends of David Johnson (a Westmore resident), on the church’s lakeside property. Melissa Hyde gave the land in the 1930’s during Rev. Root’s tenure in hopes that it would become a community park. Today the church uses the park yearly for a Summer Blessing of the Animals Sunday Worship Service and for the town’s Winter Tree Lighting Ceremony. Many weddings and church activities enjoy this beautiful open space on the Lake’s shore.
In 1993, the church was designated as a State Historical Building and is now on the Historic Register.
In 2017, Darryl Davis approached the Trustees about opening up the Bell Tower – to remove the louvers that hide the bell and replace them with Plexiglas. In addition, he proposed constructing a louver at the base of the Plexiglas to allow for music to flow more easily from the tower. Work commenced. On Sunday, August 19, 2018 the church celebrated the Rededication of the Bell and Bell Tower in honor of Alfred and Mildred Davis. The Reverend Robert Leibold led the festive service, which included the ringing of many bells.