100 year celebration: Church dates back to WWI

What: 100-year celebration activities

Where: Casco Alliance Church, 450 Roosevelt Trail

When: Friday at 6 p.m. is the Dessert Social with trivia games and exhibits on display; Saturday at 4 p.m. is the community supper with area pastors providing remembrances of the past; Sunday at 9:30 a.m. is regular church services during which time the congregation will bury a time capsule.

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — At the turn of the century, women dressed glamorously in long dresses with bustles and bows. The Gibson Girl was hailed as the archetype for American women.

However, the course of women’s fashion changed in 1914 when the United States of America entered into World War I. As men enlisted in the U.S. military, women assumed the vacant roles in the work force and dressed in less feminine attire.

“Certainly, the war affected women’s clothing,” Laurel Cebra said.

“They had just started the assembly line for the Model ‘A’ Ford in 1914. Women went to work in factories and on the farms,” she said.

Cebra, a longtime Naples resident, has been delving into that time period in Maine’s history. She has been collecting items from that era for an exhibit that will be part of the 100-year celebration of the Casco Alliance Church.

Committee Chairman and Casco resident Bob McDonald has also been busy as the church prepares for the centennial anniversary.

In 1914, the church started in Casco with the formation of a prayer group, which met at various homes in the area. The following year, a building was raised alongside Roosevelt Trail, which at the time was known as Portland Road.

This weekend, parishioners from the Casco Alliance Church have planned two evenings of activities in addition to regular Sunday services to commemorate the century mark for the church, Cebra said.

The observance kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. with a dessert social that will be open to the public.

“We will have a dessert social with exhibits from 1914, showing a taste of what life was like 100 years ago. We will play some trivia games related to the topic,” Cebra said.

“Included in the exhibits will be a gown from one of our elderly parishioners. It was her mother’s wedding gown,” she said.

“We have prepared a fun night,” she said.

A community meal will be held on Saturday, starting at 4 p.m.

Following services on Sunday – which always begin at 9:30 a.m. – churchgoers will bury a time capsule.

According to Pastor Garret Meuser, “This is the first time that I have been involved with a church celebrating an anniversary of this magnitude.”

“The anniversary we are celebrating this Friday is the day the church was formed. It began as a prayer meeting — people just gathered to pray with the intent of building a formal church,” Meuser said.

Parishioners were enthusiastic about planning the 100-year celebration and forthcoming with sharing items they owned from the early 1900s.

“I haven’t been too surprised about what has come up. I have a lady whose mother was a founding member. This has been her church since she was a young girl,” he said.

“In New England, a lot of people don’t move away too often. So, it’s easier to track down history because it doesn’t get lost in the move,” he said.

Preparations for the event “have been a group effort,” he said, giving kudos to Cebra and McDonald for their part in the planning process.

Throughout the region, some longtime residents still refer to the building as the Jesus Never Fails Church, since those are the word inscribed above the tall doorway.

The church started out with a Baptist affiliation, and later became associated with the Christian Missionary Alliance, which is considered a conservative Pentecostal sect, according to Meuser.

During the winter months, or when school is in session, about 20 to 25 people regularly attend the church. During the summertime, that number increases to 30 to 40 people.

“The opportunity to celebrate the 100-year anniversary is a once in a lifetime event,” Meuser said.

“Unless you live in an area where there are a lot of old churches, it’s not something you’d get to do,” he said.

“I am super honored to be the pastor who celebrates this. I consider this quite a privilege — one that I don’t deserve. But, the Lord is allowing me to be part of this, so I am not going to argue with him,” Meuser said.


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