Who We Are and Who Are Our Neighbors
We are from the Sandy River... from away… Scottish… Swedish... Yankee…..rural…. in harmony… in conflict….librarian…sign language interpreter…barber… teacher… arborist… home health worker… nurse…. corrections officer… stay at home mom…we are the age of our church… we are old in body but not in mind with new blood in veins… embracing youth...
Fairbanks Union Church is three miles from the center of Farmington and is part of Franklin County. The town of Farmington is the country seat, home to the University of Maine at Farmington, the region’s health care center and a very vibrant cultural hub.
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 Reverend 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 Reverend Burger retired, Reverend C. 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. Rev. Planting retired from his ministry with us in October 2010 to take up a position as Director of Maine Sea Coast Mission.
In August 2017 Rothea Kornelius became our our Pastor.
We are still a community-centered church with some of the same family names on the church rolls.
Mission at the Eastward
For over sixty years, the Fairbanks Union Church has joined together with other West Central Maine Presbyterian churches in Mission at the Eastward and service ministries inspired by Christ to worship and work, "reaching the last house on the last road" with God's gifts and graces so that they are exemplified, multiplied, and shared with others for the good of all.
My name is Rothea Kornelius (but I go by Thea, just because it’s easier). I was born in Pretoria, South Africa, went to school there and got my degree in Physical Therapy. I came to the US about 13 years ago, and in the mean time completed my doctorate in Physical Therapy from Boston University and then my MDiv from the University of Dubuque, Theological Seminary.
I moved here from South Hill, Virginia where I worked as a physical therapist. During my time at South Hill Presbyterian Church, I was the volunteer in charge of children and the youth. I would love to say that in my free time I love gardening, knitting and reading, but that is scarce at times. I have been married for 9 years to my wife, Dawn and we have 6 four footed babies.