Revival in Maine

[Note: this is a cross-post from Church Matters, the 9Marks blog.]


Several hundred years ago, revival broke out in New England under the watchcare of America’s greatest pastor, Jonathan Edwards.  275 years later, it may be happening again.

From Downeast magazine, a secular publication covering life in Maine, comes this hugely unexpected news: Maine, one of the spiritually “darkest” states in New England (America’s least Christian region), is apparently experiencing a revival.  Evangelical churches emphasizing biblical literacy and doctrinal solidarity are seeing up to 20% increased attendance in recent days.  This, to say the least, is a shocker.

Here’s what Cynthia Anderson writes in “Sanctuary,” the article covering this seeming phenomenon (read the whole thing–it’s that encouraging):

The three Sunday services at Calvary Chapel regularly draw more than two thousand people. Turnout is similar ten miles away at Bangor Baptist Church, which has on its grounds two radio stations and the largest Christian school in the state. A few exits down Route 95 in Waterville, Faith Evangelical Free Church — originator of a popular YouTube series of skits based on the TV show The Office — also draws large crowds. Indeed, attendance at the state’s evangelical churches has swelled in recent years as mainline denominations have continued to struggle. According to a 2008 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 37 percent of those Mainers who identify as Protestant now consider themselves evangelical.

The numbers, say religious experts and church leaders, suggest a surge of interest in Bible-based Christianity, particularly north of Portland. “It appears that there’s some sort of revival going on in central Maine,” says Ves Sheely, district superintendent of the Evangelical Free Church in New England. Sheely, who travels the state as he makes the rounds of the association’s sixty member churches, has observed new churches opening and attendance at existing ones rising. “I see an increased openness to spiritual life, here more than in other parts of New England. I see evidence of a new interest in Jesus.”

Others concur. “There is a trend of people going back to church here, especially to the more literally Bible-based churches,” says Jerry Mick, pastor of Bangor Baptist, where the nine hundred-person average weekly attendance reflects a 20 percent increase in two years. In the Bangor area alone there are more than forty churches, close to half of which are evangelical — including Nazarene, Baptist, Assembly of God, and non-denominational. Such religiosity is all the more notable given that the Pew study showed only 59 percent of Mainers are “absolutely certain” God exists, compared with 65 percent of those in the Northeast and 71 percent nationally.

The article, as one can see, doesn’t given a ton of hard data.  There’s a good amount of anecdotal evidence referenced here.  Furthermore, we all know that Christians have historically had a tendency to claim revival–and church growth–where it may or may not actually have happened.  If the testimony recorded here does reflect reality, however, this is a most unexpected and welcome development.

Can I give you a little context here?  I’m from Maine.  Real Maine–the deep country.  I am from a church that averaged between 30 and 70 people in attendance each week during my childhood.  Precious few people were saved during my time at First Baptist Church of East Machias.  This despite the faithful preaching of the gospel, the sacrificial evangelistic efforts of church members, and devoted members committed to imaging the gospel.  I knew of no revivals; my high school had perhaps 3-5 Christian students total.

When I went to college, I went to a vibrant church in Brunswick, Maine of between 200-300 members.  I thought it was a megachurch (seriously).  The congregation sponsored a radio ministry, had an education wing and pastor’s offices, and more.  I could barely believe my eyes.

Why do I share this?  Because, in my limited experience, revival in Maine–no, revival in New England–is almost unheard of.  Though far from Maine now, I keep tabs on my beloved home state, and I know that now, just as always, many churches fight for their very existence.  Many pastors work bivocationally.  Asbury’s circuit-riding has not died out; I know preachers who serve several tiny congregations that are the only gospel witnesses within miles.  If this revival (and other renewal efforts discussed by folks like Soong-Chang Rah) is indeed happening, and it seems it is, this is some of the most encouraging spiritual news I have ever heard regarding my home state and home region.  Ever.

I’m sure that many readers will lack a direct connection to Maine; whatever the case, would you join me in prayer for this development (and for other regions of our country and world)?  It may well be another confirmation that even in the darkest of times (a recent cover story by Newsweek showed that North American Christianity is indeed struggling in many cases), God has not forgotten His people.  As He has so often shown His church throughout the ages, He is faithful, He is strong to save, and His gospel of the kingdom is pushing back the thickest darkness through a mixed group of churches and faithful believers.

In the land of Edwards, it seems, revival has come again.


To begin learning more about New England Christians:

New England Center for Expository Preaching (note the May 2010 pastor’s conference featuring Mark Dever)

NETS Institute for Church Planting

Bangor Baptist Church

Calvary Chapel of Bangor

Faith Evangelical Free Church

2008 Pew Survey

  • Dan Odom

    As a “New Hampshirite” this is welcomed news!! Let the revival come!

  • Frank Emrich

    Thanks for this, I am forwarding it to my brother who is a pastor in Maine and has been for many years. Even pastored in Machias.

  • blendahtom

    Amen to that Dan!

  • groovyoldlady

    I live in Waterville and attend a small church in Vassalboro. I used to attend a “large” church in Waterville. I haven’t seen this revival happening in our area, though I’ve heard many, MANY good things about what God is doing at Calvary Chapel. If revival has begun and the hard hearts of New England are beginning to repent, then I want to be doing my part by praying earnestly and sharing HIS love with unbeleivers as well as discipling new Christians.

    Oh Lord, DO work in thi dark state and bring us to our knees before You!

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  • Rev. Chris Myers

    Baring Baptist Church-update
    I just had a week off from school and now it is back to the books. Breanna came to Maine for a weeklong visit and will return with Sheila on Saturday back to complete the spring semester. We are so thankful to Sheila for taking care of her and brining her here to visit.

    We are loving our calling to this area, but need your prayers please. We have our daily struggles, but if we were not having problems we would not be doing the Lord’s work.

    Baring Baptist Church had 24 people when we arrived. Last week we had 76 people in attendance and the week before we had 82 in attendance for Sunday morning. I am not a numbers guy, but I am really praising the Lord for His increase.

    Please pray for God to continue to increase the body in numbers and in spiritual maturity. This last weekend we had an 8 year old girl ask Jesus to be her Savior. That is what ministry is all about. Baring is sharing the Gospel to the world one person at a time.

    We are so thankful to those who have supported us and ask that God will continue to bless you and ask that you will continue to pray for our ministry here in the North Country.

    We are planning a mission trip this summer Kathy is leading the charge to Brazil again this summer so if any are interested in going, ticket, pasport and visa, you pay for and the rest is taken care of once you get there all expenses paid. 10 days to one month. If you feel like this is something the Lord is leading you to do contact Kathy at she would be glad to get you scheduled.

    Our youth are going to be doing Discipleship Now in April, Pack a pew in May (dinner if you can make it), the church will do Vacation Bible School in June, Brazil in July and Home coming in August!

    In the photo below 4 baptized last month, four joined the church and 2 saved all on the same Sunday! God is so good, all the time!

    Rev.Chris Myers

    Cell: 207-904-7740

    Pastor: Baring Baptist Church


    31 Lafayette St.

    Calais Maine 04619

    Be diligent in these matters: give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save yourself and the hearers. 1 Tim 4:15-16

  • Tom Parks

    This is wonderful news. We are experiencing that same 20% growth this year at my home church, New Life Church (an independent-evangelical-charismatic church) in Biddeford…..twenty miles SOUTH of Portland. Praise God! His light reaches even the darkest places! Tom Parks

  • Jijo

    Revival comes after people prepare themselves to accept Jesus is Lord and Savior and they are sinners. There are many reasons for trusting Jesus. I have one reason now. for more read my blog.

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