The Episcopal Diocese of Maine recently closed on the ownership transfer of the former Episcopal Church of Saints Matthew and Barnabas in Hallowell, Maine to the Capital Area New Mainer’s Project, a cross-cultural organization that welcomes immigrants and works to create a thriving, integrated community in central Maine. The ownership transfer was attended by the Rt. Rev. Thomas Brown, the Bishop of Maine, Terrance Reimer, the Canon for Finance and Stewardship for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, and Chris Myers Asch, Executive Director of the Capital Area New Mainers Project.
After more than 160 years as a church on Union Street in Hallowell, the church —facing dwindling funds, an aging membership, and the pandemic —made the decision to permanently close in 2021. “We did not come to this decision lightly,” says former Senior Warden Patricia Buck-Welton, “The church no longer had the finances and resources to remain open.” The church celebrated their final service on June 6, 2021.
The impending closure of the church prompted discussions between the Episcopal Church of Saints Matthew and Barnabas, the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, and the Capital Area New Mainers project who was already renting the empty church parsonage next door to house to a refugee family in need of housing. The Capital Area New Mainers Project plans to use the former church building to create new affordable housing space for a refugee family, utilize already existing office space, and use the former sanctuary as event space for dinners, speakers, holiday celebrations and other events to educate the broader community about immigration.
“The space at 20 Union Street is an extraordinary opportunity for the Capital Area New Mainers Project to expand our Better Housing Program and provide needed organizational and event space! This space will help a great deal to further our mission of helping immigrants thrive while also building long-lasting, mutually sustaining relationships between immigrants and the native-born community here in central Maine,” says Chris Myers Asch, Executive Director of the Capital Area New Mainers Project.
Bishop Thomas Brown shares, “God is still at work in this place. We are delighted for this space to be used for a mission deeply aligned with our baptismal covenants of loving your neighbor as yourself, striving for justice and peace, and respecting the dignity of all people.”