First Congregational United Church of Christ, Baudette

First Congo UCC BaudetteAnother of the congregations started by Rev. T. W. Howard and his wife Susan Collier in the early 20th century, the original church building was destroyed in the fire of 1910 that burned through the area and destroyed most of the towns of Baudette and Spooner, along the Rainy River.  A new church was one of the first buildings to be built following the fire and is still in use as the sanctuary of the current church.  Additions have been made over the years including a basement and a new entrance that contains a lift for all three levels of the church.  Throughout its more then 100 years, the church has seen both good times and bad.  During much of the middle of the twentieth century the church flourished because of the DEW Line Radar bases in the area.  An end to the cold war and the closing of the bases meant a downturn in the area and the church.  It again flourished when a drug company came to town and produced an important drug for women, but when the company downsized, again the church hit hard times.  Currently, Baudette is the largest community in Lake of the Woods county with an economy based on tourism.  The church works to provide a progressive ministry to the community.

As the central church in the Rainy River Regional Parish, First Congregational serves as the base for the parish pastor.  When the proposed amendment that would define marriage as being between one man and one woman came to a state wide vote, it was the Deacons of First Congregational (using resources provided by the Conference) that organized the opposition to the amendment in Lake of the Woods County and the surrounding area.  It also lent support to the effort to make same gender marriage legal in the state.  More recently, it has offered a workshop on telling the truth about the religion of Islam as part of its Lenten study series.

The church is working to rebuild its Christian education program and boasts one of the youngest if not the youngest acolyte in the Conference (a four-year-old girl, usually barefoot and helped by her father, puts out the candles on the alter and carries the flame out).  The Sunday School is primarily very young girls and is multi-racial.  Worship is informal with a come as you are attitude.  After church, coffee usually is available and visitors can catch up on local happenings and the latest fishing news.  Located just a few blocks from the Port of Entry into Canada, First Congregational is an older congregation trying to renew itself as the main voice of progressive Christianity in the area.