Rumford Point and Bethel area residents will have two opportunities this weekend to help the Rumford Point Congregational Church raise funds to repair its ailing 90-foot steeple and bell tower.
The church, built in 1864, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. The fundraising effort is seeking between $140,000-$200,000 to repair the steeple and paint the entire building. Church moderator and finance secretary Dottie Adams of Hanover and trustee Harrison Burns of Rumford are leading the effort.
Adams said that on Saturday, the 21st, the church hopes to sell raffle tickets on a photo quilt of the region at Molly Ockett Day in Bethel. Then, that evening, a concert featuring Lisa Ramsey Ferguson and The Sandwich Rangers will take place at the church at 7 p.m.
Ferguson is the daughter of Paul and Lynne Ramsey of Hanover. She and her husband have performed in past years at the Hanover library’s Celebration of Fall.
The concert will utilize a donations format. Refreshments will be served afterward.
One estimate for complete repairs to the steeple/bell tower, plus painting of the entire church, is nearly $200,000, though $66,000 of that is for repainting the building.
Burns said that part of the work will likely take place after a second phase of fundraising.
He said the steeple is structurally sound, but the wood “doesn’t hold paint anymore,” and birds have also found access to it. Significant parts of the cost are for addressing safety issues, as well as to put new exterior finish boards on the steeple and install copper cladding on the spire.
The volunteers have a goal to raise $45,000 by Sept. 1, in order to apply for a matching grant from the Maine Community Foundation Steeple Grant Fund program.
Adams said half of that amount has been raised this year through a capital campaign. Although the church has only 20 members, she said there has been support from other community and former community members, including some whose families had previous connections to the church.
“They might have been involved in activities, such as scouting and Men’s Club, in the past,” she said.
Other fundraisers are planned after this weekend:
On July 31 from 6-8 p.m. at the church, Adams’ sister, Norma Salway, will do a presentation on Creative Women in Maine History. She is a retired educator, Maine author and history presenter. Refreshments are included.
A “Community Pie Night” fundraiser will take place on Friday, Aug. 3 at 6 p.m., also at the church, co-sponsored with the trustees of the Gardner Roberts Memorial Library. Attendees are asked to bring a pie of any kind to share.
A supper is planned for September (TBA), as is a hymn sing and others during the fall and winter.
The events are free, with monetary donations appreciated.
For anyone who cannot attend an event but would like to contribute, a check can be written to “Rumford Point Church Steeple Fund” and sent to Rumford Pt. Church, PO Box 38, Hanover, ME 04237.