May 3rd 2014 7:21 a.m.

New church begins to plant roots in Fort Kent

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3 June 2014
FORT KENT- Providence Baptist Church will hold its first official service on Sunday, June 8, at 10:30 a.m. in the conference room below Rock's Diner in Fort Kent. The meeting is free of charge and open to the public are invited to attend. Pastor John Kelly, of St. Francis, will oversee the service as the official cleric for the new church.
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CALLED TO THE VALLEY- Pastor John Kelly (left) has wanted to open a Baptist church in the area since he found his calling as a young boy visiting relatives in Allagash. Todd Bell of Sanford (right) has help to finance Kelly's establishment in the Fort Kent area. - Photo by Jessica Potila
This week, Providence Baptist Church rented the Lion's Pavillion at Riverside Park where outdoor services have been held at 7 p.m each week night. Bell officiated one night's service at the Pavillion, which was set up with a piano, sound system, and chairs for 100 guests. Bell spoke of the spiritual challenges facing individuals "in times like these" at the outdoor ceremony, and was undeterred by a pesky mosquito, swatting at the unholy creature as he continued to share his message. A men's quartet from Sanford is expected to perform gospel music at the Pavillion services for the remainder of this week.
Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford, Maine has provided the funding for the new religious establishment. This week it invested around $2,000 to help launch Providence Baptist Church, according to Pastor Todd Bell of Sanford. "It's every penny worth it. No price can be placed on a soul," he said. Representatives of Calvary Baptist will continue to support Kelly's efforts to institute Providence Baptist and will visit Fort Kent weekly via airplane "until he gets on his feet really good," said Bell. Bell refers to the church's plane as an "aviation ministry-Wings With the Word." He also mentioned that he looks forward to making regular trips to Fort Kent himself, "What a beautiful St. John Valley this is," Bell said. Pastor Todd Bell has been a pastor for 25 years and became involved with Kelly's calling after the two met at a missionary conference in Pennsylvania.
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A MISSION WITH MUSIC - Three young Christian Academy students sang a hymn for guests at a service of Fort Kent's first baptist church at the Lion's Pavillion Monday evening. - Photo by Jessica Potila
"[Kelly] shared with me about his desire to come to Maine. He shared with us about his burden and I said, 'well obviously that's where the Lord needs you'. That's why God called Pastor Kelly here, not to compete with or argue with [other religious establishments]. He's just here to preach Christ. There's multitudes that are unchurched and we just want to reach them with the gospel," said Bell.
Kelly, 26, lives in St. Francis with his wife of one year, Crystal, and their baby son Elijah. He is an ordained pastor who attended Southern Baptist College in Mississippi. Kelly enjoys hunting, fly-fishing, camping and reading, and said he looks forward to the future of Providence Baptist Church. Kelly grew up in Milford but has had lifelong ties to the Valley. His paternal grandparents are from Allagash and he spent childhood summer vacations visiting with relatives in the area. It was during one of these visits when Kelly first discovered his religious calling while attending a service at Allagash Baptist Church, when he was 12 years old, he said.
In addition to the Sunday morning meetings, Providence Baptist will also hold regular services on Sundays at 5 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at Rock's. To view upcoming events and the church's schedule, visit the Providence Baptist Church online at Pastor John Kelly can also be reached at 459-8555.
"I'm excited about what God's gonna do. I believe great things are gonna happen," he said.

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