Frankfort, Maine was originally incorporated in 1789, and embraced the whole territory along the western bank of the Penobscot River from Belfast to Bangor, thus encompassing the present towns of Prospect, Winterport, Hampden, and parts of Belfast, Searsport, and Stockton. In 1793 the town was divided into three towns of Prospect, Frankfort, and Hampden. The boundaries of Belfast, Searsport, and Stockton were later firmed up, and the last community, Winterport, was set off in 1860. Settlers were recorded in Frankfort as early as 1770, and records from 1773 report twelve families residing at Marsh Bay, one family at Oak Point, and one where the village is now.
Our church began as a meeting in the house of Upton Treat, great grand-father of Robert Monks. As the concept of a village church grew toward reality, the parcel of land on which this church was to be built was deeded, in 1850, to a building committee of three. The church was dedicated in 1851. To help offset the cost, pews were sold to residents for $42 each. Frankfort Congregational was originally named as the Union Meeting House, based on a mutual agreement that would share the church building among three denominations. The Congregationalists would occupy the space for 50% of the time, and the Methodists and Universalists would occupy the space for 25% of the time each. This arrangement, however, did not work out, and it was reported that the church was taken over by an “orthodox” Congregational Church. Fourteen people joined the newly dedicated church, with several transferring their membership from other places of worship. in 1875 there were 21 members, and in 1886 there were 75. Our Church Constitution and Bylaws were accepted in 1890. Back then, we had a very active Missionary Society, which contributed funds for the planting of churches in the expanding American western frontier. In 1887 the town of Frankfort acknowledged a very generous gift for the community – a clock installed in the church steeple. The donor included in the gift a subsidy for maintenance of the clock, which to this day operates efficiently with maintenance provided by the town.
In 1890, we were prosperous. While no record exists on who donated the church bell, it was reported that Captain Josephus Rogers, one of the original pew owners, brought the bell from Boston on his schooner. The pulpit chairs, tables, and other furniture were solid mahogany, and the church had a valuable player organ and spool standards. In 1895, members of the congregation raised $400 to build a chapel. This was accomplished by raising the church building and placing it on a foundation of granite from Mt. Waldo, field stone and cement. Over the years this chapel space, now called the church vestry, has been used for the church school, meetings, our famous turkey suppers, and other functions. In 1921, electric lights were installed, the church was painted and the belfry was repaired, all once again from a generous gift of an individual.
The church continued to function independently until a point when members agreed to “yoke” the church with other local congregations and share ministerial staff. For several years the combined congregations of Frankfort, Monroe, Brooks, and Freedom were served by one full time minister with some part-time assistance. We withdrew from the yoked organization in 1989, becoming once again an independent congregational church associated with the United Church of Christ (1957). In 1988 the church received a grant that allowed the construction of an addition to the west side of the vestry. This addition included the church’s first indoor bathroom, a multipurpose room, and amenities that provided the church with a year-round supply of water.
The Frankfort Congregational Church has long enjoyed a special mission as a teaching church, accepting its pastors as students from the Bangor Theological Seminary. This arrangement was sustained both before and after the “yoked” status of the church, and is supervised by both the seminary and the Hancock Waldo Association. Students often come to the Frankfort Church after preliminary studies at the seminary, and stay until they graduate and achieve ordination in the United Church of Christ. The arrangement provides excellent learning and practice opportunities for students, and it provides church members with opportunities to help form new pastors while they grow in faith and love.
A New Beginning
In 2013, Bangor Theological Seminary closed it’s doors. This led to the Church hiring a non-student pastor, which they hadn’t done in quite a few years. They called Judith A. Ahles of Bangor to be their pastor, who would go on to serve for