History of The New Testament Church
“About 1900 when the little village of Cedarville consisted of some 15 houses, each with a few acres of cleared land around it where there were orchards, vegetable gardens and grain growing, four women were one evening washing the dishes from the evening meal when one expressed the wish for a church which would be their own in their own village.
Heretofore they walked to Pondville, one and one-half miles to the Indian Church for services twice each Sunday. Each agreed that they were willing to work endlessly to bring to reality what they sought. They would sew all winter in the homes making sheets, pillow cases, aprons, children’s clothing and knitting warm wraps for the whole family. In the summer when city visitors were with them they would have a Fair and sell all their products and making tablets also of home cooked food to sell. All of this took place out-of-doors. In the mean time there would be evenings when they would sell homemade ice cream and cake at the Swift home, where there was a country store in the yard…..
They called themselves the Village Improvement Society and fashioned from purple and white satin ribbon small badges with V.I.S. on them…. This little group worked diligently until by careful planning they had funds enough to erect the skeleton of a church building.”
This was the beginning of what is now The New Testament Church of Cedarville. Written by Grace Nye in a letter dated November 15, 1964; she signed it Grace Swift Nye, granddaughter of Sarah T. Swift, daughter of Minetta S. Swift and Niece of Mary J. Swift and Bessie Douglas, all whose names appear on the plaque in the foyer (pictured right) that was donated by her husband in memory of the origins of this church. Alice Haskell’s (whose name also appears on this plaque) husband built the original church that stood behind the Red School House from 1904 until the mid 1960’s. It was then called the Cedarville Community Bible Church.
The New Testament Church of Cedarville is more than a quaint memory, however. We have had a long and detailed history as a community church that has desired to improve society through the practice of applied Christianity in the service of others. In order to briefly introduce us, I will recount some of the beliefs and ideas that bring us together with a purpose and a call to help serve our community.
We believe that God created everything, and He has a unique
purpose and plan for each and every human being. We also believe that there are absolutes, written in the Bible, that are true at all times and in every culture. Summarized in the Ten Commandments, and hung in our lobby, these laws of God give guidance to all of us on how we ought to live. Though cultures have understood the significance of the Ten Commandments for centuries, it is also obvious that declaring a standard is not enough to redeem mankind.
In looking over our world today, we do not see evidence that man’s primary problem is his environment, socioeconomic condition, or emotional state at the time an unfortunate event may take place. Changing these external conditions has been tried for years, with little change in the nature of man or his behavior. The evidence of centuries of human experience confirms what the Bible said all along, that man’s primary problem is within – in his own heart and sinful condition. This leads us to a practical conclusion – if man’s problem is within, what can be his solution? The solution is what brings members of The New Testament Church together each Sunday, and causes us to want to share our experience with others.
We believe that Christianity is unique because God initiated a solution to man’s dilemma by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to live in this world and eventually die on the cross for our sin. As fully man and fully God, He took our sin upon Himself, and met every lawful condition necessary to walk with a Holy God that is both sovereign and omnipotent. It is by voluntarily surrendering to Him as Lord of each of our lives that we gain both the strength and true desire to keep God’s commandments and love our neighbors as ourselves. That is why the Lord’s Prayer is in our lobby as well – reminding all of us that it is by grace that we have seen our lives improve, not by our goodness or simply by our own efforts.
In simple form, these are beliefs of historic Christianity. This is what the Pilgrims believed. This is also what the Village Improvement Society believed at the turn of this century. It is the same set of beliefs that culminated in the desire of several women and their husbands to build this small village church. We believe that God has called us to serve and not ask to be served. He has called us to bless our village and town rather than ask to be blessed. Jesus said the greatest would be those who were servants. That is why we attempt to emphasize applied Christianity rather than merely professed Christianity.
When the Cedarville Christian Baptist Church (as it was called in the mid 1950’s) desired to expand, there was not enough land or space behind the Red School House. This is when Alfred Nye donated a parcel of land on Long Pond Road for a new church. Dave “Papa” Calhoun constructed this new church, which was completed in 1962 and dedicated in 1963.
The memory of this church building is preserved in our lobby by a painting dedicated to Pastor James and Diana Pierce and their family, who guided the church in its most dramatic spurt of growth and development from 1973 to 1986.
During this time, in 1975, the name of the church was changed to The New Testament Church of Cedarville. During the ministry of Rev. Pierce, the original mortgage on the church was burned, and a new expansion of office space and classrooms for The New Testament Christian School, begun in 1980, was completed in 1982.
Plans were formulated for another expansion effort, since the Christian day school had then expanded to grades K-12 and the congregation had grown to nearly 300 on a Sunday. In their respective wills, Alfred and Grace Nye left a sizable trust to their little home church in Cedarville, which was realized upon Grace’s passing in 1994, providing the seed money for the present expansion project, for which we are grateful beyond words.
Dave “Papa” Calhoun, who had built the second church on Long Pond Road, always desired to find a home for the “Nye Bell” donated by Alfred Nye in 1963. It is dated July 4, 1901, commemorating both the birth of our nation and the year (and possible day) in which the first church service was held here in Cedarville.
Dave “Papa” Calhoun, who with his wife Marjorie came to this area in the 1950’s and was instrumental for years in carrying on the vision of Alfred and Grace Nye, dreamed of this day, especially of seeing the Bell in our belfry, since the Bell sat idle for over 30 years after it was donated by Alfred Nye. Though “Papa” died one month before construction began on this facility, as the Nye Bell finds its temporal resting place, he has found his eternal home of rest, passing on his 90th birthday, February 8 of 1998. It is with a sense of gratitude that we honor the obedience, sacrifice, and vision that Alfred, Grace, Dave “Papa” and Marjorie “Mimi” had in fulfilling God’s call upon this church to the glory of Christ.
Today, a 400-seat sanctuary, together with six new class-
rooms and seven newly renovated ones, brings The New Testament Church and School under one roof for the first time in several years. Also, since the old church could not support a belfry, the Nye Bell has found a permanent home in its new steeple. The New Testament Church members want to publicly acknowledge the foresight and vision of both Alfred and Grace Nye. In addition, they are indebted to Dave “Papa” Calhoun for his vision for the church and school throughout the years, keeping Alfred and Grace informed about what has happening in Cedarville. Grace passed on to her eternal reward in 1994 at the age of 102, and Dave “Papa” Calhoun passed on to be with the Lord in 1998 at the age of 90.
In this latest expansion of a new sanctuary and classrooms, we have witnessed the same kind of dedication and sacrificial spirit that was experienced in 1900, almost one hundred years ago. All agreed that they would work tirelessly to see accomplished what each felt was an opportunity to better serve God and the community He has placed us in to serve. At times we must have given subcontractors and workers fits when volunteers would be waiting to begin their work just as parts of the building were completed. Members made drapes, held yard sales, painted, cleaned up the yard, and did virtually anything and everything that would aid in completing this facility.
The church now provides a Sunday School for all ages, vacation Bible school in the summer, and other activities and services that aid the many families who have recently moved into this area of Plymouth. Indeed, we are grateful that what was begun in 1900 still continues today – for the Village Improvement Society still conducts its business, with different faces and under a different name.
On our dedication of our new facility that brought together the vision, efforts, and labors of more than 100 years of providential development, it is time to consecrate ourselves to the mission that we have been destined to fulfill. The mission is the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ – the good news that our sin has been crucified on the cross of Christ and salvation is now available to those who would surrender their lives to Him. The effect of this mission is also simple – from our neighbors and neighborhoods to the nations of the world, as God would direct. We continue in the resolve of those who have come before us – and most of all, we agree that it is God, and God alone, that shall receive the glory.