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rebuilding history

by Eric Thomsen, managing editor,
ONE Magazine



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FOR NEARLY 200 YEARS, the Church on the Ridge has stood above the town of New Durham, New Hampshire, as a monument to the early days of Free Will Baptists.

The simple frame building, constructed in 1819, was home to the congregation started by Elder Benjamin Randall in 1780. The building is the oldest standing Free Will Baptist church in America. It lies just over a mile from the Randall family cemetery where the founder of the Northern Free Will Baptist movement is buried.

Over the years, thousands of Free Will Baptists have visited the historic site to catch a glimpse of their legacy.

In recent years, despite consistent maintenance efforts of First FWB Church in New Durham, the building has fallen into disrepair. The affects of time have caught up with the aging landmark.



Delegates to the 2007 National Convention in Little Rock, Arkansas, voted to fund efforts to restore the Church on the Ridge and to establish a perpetual fund to provide ongoing upkeep. Master’s Men Director Ken Akers will work in conjunction with the church in New Durham to coordinate teams of volunteers to complete the task.

The first step in the process began Saturday, July 28, when a team of volunteers began the arduous task of removing the existing roof, replacing sagging rafters, providing additional framing, and replacing the deck and shingles.

Volunteers also removed the crumbling chimneys and rebuilt the newel posts of the pinnacles and railing around the belfry. The repairs are the first of many that will take place in the months to come. The full restoration process will include:

  • Painting the exterior.

  • Painting the interior after repairs to the plaster walls and ceiling.

  • Inspecting and replacing faulty wiring.

  • Repairing deterioration in the stone foundation.

  • Replacing carpet in the foyer, aisle, and on the platform.

  • Repairing windows.

  • Restoring the Randall cemetery.


To Particpate

To participate in the restoration of The Church on the Ridge, contact Ken Akers at (877) 767-8039 or visit To help underwrite the cost of restoration, call the Executive Office at (877) 767-7659.



©2007 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists