Welcome to Columbia Street Baptist Church, Bangor Maine, USA
We are one of Bangor's historic downtown churches committed to ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed.
Founded as a downtown mission church in 1845, we stand today at the head of Cross Street as a strong witness to the power of God and His gospel in the lives of ordinary, dedicated Christians.
The Climbing Wall
When Columbia Street Baptist Church bought the old Nissen Bakery building next door to the church in the early 1960's, the leaders of the church decided to create a gym ministry to Bangor area youth. In the 50 years since, this forward-thinking idea flourished into one of our most effective outreach ministries. Hundreds of youth and adults have heard the Gospel while playing basketball, volleyball, floor hockey, dodge ball, Pinewood Derby, and many other athletic programs.
In recent years the gym has suffered damage from a leaky roof, as well as the effects of age and lack of funding. Following a major water leak in 2012 the church determined to repair and revive this vital outreach ministry, investing in future generations who will once again be presented with the Good News of the salvation of Christ while at the same time learning about their own abilities and the courage they can bring to the situations they will face as they grow.
Central to our gym ministry will be a climbing wall generously donated by the Bangor YMCA, which did not have the space for it in their new facility. In January 2013 a group of volunteers from the church, under the guidance of the CSBC Property Manager, Jerry Gunn, began the process of repairing the gym and building the Wall. This included laying a new tile floor with basketball inlays, repairing a water-damaged wall section, and stripping and insulating two of the exterior walls. Work has progressed steadily since then, and the wall will be complete by the end of January. Along with the basketball court, it will be part of a revitalized outreach to children, teens, and their families.
CSBC held a formal dedication of the Wall on Sunday, February 9. Many thanks to all who have helped with and supported the construction of the Wall. We look forward to putting it into action.
Stay tuned to our website for progress updates. Click through our slideshow to see the work completed so far.
Words from our Pastor
[row] Dr Stan Moody- 4/01/2014
Is All Mission Really Local?
All mission, both foreign and domestic, is intended truly to be local, centering on bringing the spirit of Christ to the life to which each of us has been called in order that God might display His glory to us and through us.
We as citizens of the present, dynamic, victorious Kingdom of God are turning the rules of the “Who’s-on-first” game of life on their head. Our actions and reactions are to be screened to give God – not ourselves – the glory.
The journey has been likened by the Apostle Paul to a race run, not to win first prize, but to win the prize of our inheritance. We are to persevere – to finish the race (2Tim. 4:7). The standard to which we as local missionaries are held is Matt. 25:34-40:
Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
Home Missionaries Praying, Sharing and Encouraging:
No denomination has honored unfettered allegiance to the Kingdom of God more than has the American Baptist Churches USA. Under its Home Mission Societies funded through the annual America for Christ offering, it has taken the bold step of encouraging its 5300 congregations to live out Jesus’ mandate to visit those in US jails and prisons (Matt. 25:36).
The National Coordinator of Prisoner Re-entry and Aftercare Ministry, Rev. Fela Barrueto, has been commissioned to build a network of lay and ordained chaplains already serving their communities as reentry specialists. I am privileged to be included in that network. CSBC, through Terry Dinkins and The Mansion, reaches into the Penobscot County Jail weekly with eight lay chaplains.
Puerto Rico and Beyond:
Twelve of us in the network were privileged in late January, 2014, to be guests of our partner and brother, Rev. Carlos Padilla, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Guayanilla in Puerto Rico. We found ourselves reaching through the food tray slots of cells in a two-tier segregation unit in Ponce, grasping hands outstretched for help from God: “Pray for my Mom; pray for my family; pray for my sister; pray for my injury; pray, pray, pray!”; all in Spanish through a translator as needed.
“What is local about the prison culture of Puerto Rico?” I wondered. On cue, journalist Lizette Alvarez of the NY Times answered my question in an article published on Feb. 8. It is a story of a United States territory of “3.6 million people that is treated in large part like a state” but cannot declare bankruptcy to recover from its deficit junk bond status.
Per capita income in beautiful Puerto Rico is around $15,400, “half that of Mississippi, the poorest state”, but with soaring living costs. 37% of households receive food stamps; power bills are more than twice that on the mainland. With only 41.3% of working age residents employed, Puerto Rico’s professional class is moving stateside. The prisoners for whom we prayed at the 7,000 resident prison at Ponce were mostly young men, presumably among the 15.6% unemployed and likely engaged in one of the few growth industries, narcotrafficking.
Exacerbating the social conditions on the island, a plummeting birth rate and poor educational quality has made private schools an option available only to the elite.
While Puerto Rico has its identifiable problems, in every urban and rural community in America, including downtown Bangor, ME, there are unique social conditions to which God has called His Church to engage and to remedy. In recent years, however, the Church of Jesus Christ seems to have turned inward into what author Reggie McNeal refers to as “vendors of religious goods and services”.
Our Plea to You:
Prison reentry ministry is just one of the many local outreach missions demanded of the local church. At CSBC, we are privileged to minister to some 250 folks who are struggling with addiction, homelessness, hunger, joblessness, and criminal records.
As we move forward with the community center next door to the church, please pray that God will engage each of us, through our divergent gifts, in the commission to “make disciples”. God bless you as you labor in His vineyard. May He put on your heart the pressing need to share the resources of Christ in downtown Bangor and beyond according to the “…good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10b).
1. Lizette Alvarez, Economy and Crime Spur New Puerto Rico Exodus, NY Times, Feb. 8, 2014.
2. McNeal, Reggie. Missional Renaissance. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass. 2009, p. 23.
The Missional Church
Breaking the Cycle of Church Culture
Columbia Street Baptist Church (CSBC) has a long and proud tradition of support for home and foreign missions. It also has a painful history of striving to become relevant both to members and culturally-diverse seekers in our post-Christian world.
CSBC, then, is somewhere in transition from a program-centered emphasis to a mission-centered church. Your current pastoral team is committed to nudging our congregation along the trajectory toward the sometimes random, spontaneous path of impacting lives in downtown Bangor and beyond. That carries with it certain risks inherent in breaking out of familiar patterns.
The Journey from Program to Mission:
“Program church” is typical of the church culture in America as it has declined into survival mode. Author Reggie McNeal describes a program church as a vendor of religious goods and services. That worked well at a time when people were flocking into churches without recruitment. Where it broke down was when we abandoned the ministry of love by outsourcing the care of the dispossessed to agencies having no interest in the care of the soul. The Church tuned inward and lost its distinctive as an empowering, transformational force in American life.
Thankfully, with governments running out of resources, CSBC is now very well positioned to resume the Matt. 25 responsibilities that prompted its birth in 1845.
McNeal’s take on the differences between the two approaches to ministry:
- Moving from internal to external focus, relieving the church of its social-club ethos.
- Moving from program-running and ministry-running to people-development/discipleship.
- Moving from church-bound leadership to community-sensitive focus.
To the extent that CSBC can continue transitioning toward a ministry of empowerment of others, we stand to experience together the joy of service. Our constituency will become those of all classes who are hungry for the revolutionary and transformational spirit of Christ within the Church. Church growth emphasis will be overtaken by church relevancy and will fade.
Through the resource of the building next door, we are in process of initiating this shift on two parallel tracks – one more program-centered (CSBC) and the other more outreach-centered. As the two tracks coalesce, pray together, and tackle the needs around us, we will witness together an incremental merger into a strong, vibrant community of service.
Our mission partnership model fits very nicely into this construct. The Mansion and CSBC are working surprisingly well together in the integration of two missions into the life of the church.
Below is a dramatic comparison of the two models.
1. McNeal, Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 2009
Revolves around worship
Revolves around mission/service
Accountability of finances
Finances dependent on members
Varied funding options
Religious goods and services
Responds to community
Programs based on members' interests
Programs based on community needs
Emphasis on tradition
Focused on attendance
Fulfills needs of members
Seeks to fulfill needs of others
Focus on middle class
Open to change
Conditional acceptance based on moral judgment
Tempers gospel to avoid offending
Politically conservative or liberal
Church competition oriented