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June-July 2022

Congregation on Call


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A Celebration 200 Years in the Making


In 1818, the people in the church in New Durham, New Hampshire (started by Elder Benjamin Randall in 1780), decided it was time to have their own building. Up to this point, the church had met in several locations, starting in the home of a church member named Deacon Boodey and later moving to the town meeting hall, the New Durham Meeting House.

The congregation purchased land and began construction on the building we now call the Ridge Church. The church was constructed using large, hand-cut beams joined by wooden pegs. After construction was completed in 1819, the church quickly began enjoying their own place to meet. In the early years, hundreds of people gathered in and around the church to participate in the services. Sadly, Randall himself, who died in 1808, never saw the beautiful building. However, his family attended services, with their own pew (rented yearly).

Over the decades (centuries, even) the church has undergone multiple changes. Chimneys were added. A bell tower was constructed to house a bell cast in Paul Revere’s forge. At one time, the congregation even turned the church from its original foundation to face another direction.

Decorative metal sheets were added to the walls and ceiling, and electricity eventually replaced the chandelier lamps in the sanctuary. The structure is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is such a vital part of the town history it appears in the town seal.

Over the years, even after the congregation moved to a new building closer to the town center, the First Church in New Durham did a great job maintaining the building. But as the church aged, more extensive (and expensive) repairs were required. In 2006, after a study by a national committee, it was agreed Master’s Men would accept the challenge of restoring and maintaining the historic structure.

After more than a decade of hard work, volunteers from across the denomination completed the renovation, and today, the church is structurally and aesthetically sound. After many conversations, and with great excitement, the First Church voted to transfer ownership of the Ridge Church to North American Ministries, along with the cemetery where the Randall family is buried, not far from the church. In December 2016, David Crowe and Ken Akers met with Pastor Nason and the leaders of First Church to complete the ownership transfer.

In celebration of the 200-year anniversary of the completion of the Ridge Church, North American Ministries will hold a special weekend in partnership with the First Church of New Durham. (Normally, the church holds their Homecoming service in June to mark this celebration.)

Attendees will meet Saturday, June 11, at 10:00 a.m. Speakers will present the history of the church and of Free Will Baptists and walk attendees through the renovation process. Later, we will travel a short distance to the Randall Family Cemetery for prayer and reflection. On Sunday morning, we will return to the church for Sunday worship at 10:00 a.m.

Anyone interested in Free Will Baptist history is welcome to attend these services.

For more information, contact North American Ministries or visit

Free Will Baptist Master's Men since 2002. Master’s Men is responsible for Free Will Baptist Disaster Response, IMPACT outreach, and the Ridge Church Restoration. The organization also works to reach men through retreats and sports fellowship. Learn more:


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists