History of Fairbanks Union Church
The church’s beginnings date to March 1895 when a group of Fairbanks residents, led by Hiram Butler, decided they wanted a community church. Butler then donated land for a new church, one large enough to accommodate about 100 worshipers. Villagers subscribed either lumber or money to buy materials, and within months the sanctuary was erected.
Twenty-four Fairbanks residents promptly petitioned the justice of the peace, J. J. Richards, to incorporate a religious society under the name “Union Chapel Society”. Seven years later the Ladies Aid Society was formed. That group financed the addition of a kitchen just behind the sanctuary in 1915. Later, the Austin L. Hardy Memorial Basement was dug.
In the early days, the church was served regularly by “visiting ministers”, often Farmington clergymen or student ministers from Bangor Theological Seminary. Sometimes parishioners themselves preached; most often it was Henry Webster. Elbridge Cutler served as superintendant of Sunday school.
In 1955 Rev. William Burger, a Presbyterian, became full-time pastor. He initially came to Maine in the early 40’s and worked for the church in the lumber camps in the area. In 1961 the chapel became a mission church of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. The church also became a member of Mission at the Eastward, a cooperative ministry of a dozen churches at that time.
After Rev. Burger retired, Rev. Scott Planting was installed in 1975 as pastor and with his guidance the church’s ministry expanded to include various social welfare projects.
In 1988 the addition of a meeting room and an office increased the size of the church by more than one-third. In 1991 the church was elevated from mission to self-supporting status.
We are still a community-centered church with some of the same family names on the church rolls.
Rev. Planting retired from his ministry with us in October 2010 to take up a position as Director of Maine Sea Coast Mission.
Today we are…
In a position very similar to that of our forebears – with visiting ministers, some of whom are retired ministers from the area and some of whom are seminary students. And like our forbears we still share the same feeling of community and active involvement in social welfare.
The Session governs with understanding within the limits of what the membership can afford or understand. Responsibilities: The session is the council for the congregation. The Members of the session will be ruling elders elected by the congregation. The session will have responsibility of governing the congregation.
Book of Order, Page 48 G-3.02, The Session, G-3.02011 Composition and Responsibilities.
The mission of the Deacons as defined in the book of order: “is one of compassion, witness, and service, sharing in the redeeming love of Jesus Christ for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the lost, the friendless, the oppressed, those burdened by unjust policies or structures, or anyone in distress……..their ministry is under the supervision and authority of the session. Deacons may also be given special assignments in the congregation, such as caring for members in need, handling educational tasks, cultivating liberality in giving, collecting and disbursing monies to specific persons or causes, or overseeing the buildings and property of the congregation. Deacons shall assume other duties as may be delegated to them by the session, including assisting with the Lord’s Supper. (G-2.02, Book or Order, 2011-2013).
The stewardship of Fairbanks Union Church includes: Finance Committee, Property Committee, Worship Committee, Music Committee, Education Committee and Public Relations Committee.
The Presbyterian Church
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel, whom alone we worship and serve.
God comes to us in free and undeserved favor in the person of Jesus Christ who lived, died, and rose for us that we might belong to God and serve Christ in the world. Following Jesus, Presbyterians are engaged in the world and in seeking thoughtful solutions to the challenges of our time.
Presbyterians affirm that God comes to us with grace and love in the person of Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose for us so that we might have eternal and abundant life in him. As Christ’s disciples, called to ministry in his name, we seek to continue his mission of teaching the truth, feeding the hungry, healing the broken, and welcoming strangers. God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, giving us the energy, intelligence, imagination, and love to be Christ’s faithful disciples in the world.
More than two million people call the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) their spiritual home. Worshiping in 10,000 Presbyterian congregations throughout the United States, they engage the communities in which they live and serve with God’s love.