Durham Monthly Meeting of Friends, A Brief History
Members of the Society of Friends moved into what is now the town of Durham, then known as Royalsboro, in the last years of the eighteenth century, when Maine was a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Friends came from Harpswell, Falmouth, and from Ware, New Hampshire. They held meetings for worship in the home of Joseph Estes, organizing as Durham Preparative Meeting in 1775 under Falmouth Quarterly Meeting. In 1790 Durham was set off as a separate monthly meeting in 1790, building a meetinghouse on property where the present meetinghouse stands. Over the years Durham set off or supported Worship groups in Lewiston, Greene, Wales, Leeds, Wilton, Pownel and Litchfield.
By 1799 the meetinghouse was considered inadequate and a new house, 40 by 45 feet and two stories high, was built probably in 1800. This meetinghouse burned in 1829 and again with financial help from Quarterly Meeting a brick meetinghouse, 40 by 40 feet was built within that same year. This meetinghouse had two entrances and a wooden partition which could be lowered while men and women had separate business meetings. By 1900 a 20 by 40 foot room for after-meeting activities, known as the “vestry,” was created. Early meetinghouses were heated with two wood stoves. Around 1950 a gas stove arrived. To accommodate Sunday School, meals and fellowship activities, the vestry was extended and a classroom, restrooms and kitchen were added. In 1930 the white house across the road from the meetinghouse was acquired and has served as the parsonage. In 2010 a stage was removed adding more space for Sunday School.
Durham members have served as unpaid ministers from 1790. Many Friends with Traveling Minutes both visited Durham and went forth from Durham. These included Nathan Douglas, who served from 1837 for seventy years, Emma Newell, Edward Hacker, Eli and Sibyl Jones, and Peace Jones. Durham Friends have been active in supporting and working in fields of service and mission. These fields include Kickapoo Native Americans, East Africa Yearly Meetings, Cuban Friends, Schools in Belize, Jamaica, and Ramallah in Palestine. Most recently individual members have contributed to and traveled to Kenya in support Kakamega Care Center. Individual Durham Friends have served Yearly Meeting as Field Secretary, Office Secretary, Youth and Education Secretary, Directors of Friends Camp, and as resource leaders for Yearly Meeting. The Meeting is served by a pastor, youth minister, and a number of recorded ministers.