Skip to content

REVIVAL OR REVOLT–Religion in New Gloucester and No. Yarmouth, 1791

2015 October 2
by Linda

george_whitefieldAs a special event in the year-long celebration of our 250th anniversary, historian Holly Hurd gave an illustrated presentation about the religious revival that occurred in North Yarmouth (present-day Yarmouth, No. Yarmouth, Freeport, Pownal, Cumberland) in 1791, and related it to the religious climate in New Gloucester at the time. The well-attended talk was recorded by New Gloucester’s public access channel(3), to be broadcast in the future.  

In the early 1790s, the Congregational church in North Yarmouth experienced a revival that was the largest in Maine since the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s. This movement occurred at a time when Congregationalism was experiencing severe challenges in Maine—other churches, such as the Baptists and the Methodists, were growing rapidly and disrupting the established “state” church. especially in rural interior towns such as New Gloucester. 

While North Yarmouth’s congregational pastor managed to accommodate the popular but divergent theologies, such that Baptists and Methodists and Unitarians did not found churches there until after Maine achieved statehood, New Gloucester’s culture was quite different.  As soon as the town would allow it, by 1795, Universalists, Free Will Baptists, Calvinist Baptists, and Shakers all stopped paying the tax which supported the town’s settled pastor, and established their own churches. Interestingly, North Yarmouth resisted Maine statehood through several votes, but New Gloucester’s voters clamored for statehood as soon as it was first proposed.

As-yet-unexplored sermons, letters, and journals of our Rev. Samuel Foxcroft, held by the Congregational Archive in Boston, could certainly help us gain fuller insight into this volatile time in the history of New Gloucester!  Rev. Gard’s next sabbatical?

Comments are closed.