CHESTERFIELD, N.H. -- Two former area churches are now united as one.
Emmanuel Baptist Church, of Keene, and Pioneer Baptist Church, formerly of Brattleboro, joined forces in last month to become the Tri-State Baptist Bible Church at 754 Route 63 in the village of Spofford and serve parishioners from New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts.
Pioneer Baptist Church once had a home on Birge Street in Brattleboro but moved to Chesterfield in 2007. Emmanuel Baptist Church consolidated with Pioneer at its Route 63 location on Sunday, Jan. 13, after the pastors (Fred Laughman from Pioneer and Roger Maxwell from Emmanuel) announced they were moving on. Talks of consolidation started in November.
"Both churches are very similar. It's a nice building here and it's near Spofford Lake," said the Rev. Peter Laitres, Tri-State's interim pastor. "It's been excellent. There's a good spirit here, people are excited."
He said his parishioners stretch from Peterborough to West Brattleboro, Vt., to Northfield, Mass.
Laitres, who graduated from Brattleboro Union High School in 1978 and most recently served as a pastor in Maine, said everyone is looking forward to some interesting changes to the building, as plans for expansion are in their primary stages.
Deacon Wayne Nickerson, who served at Emmanuel Baptist Church, said the perfect time to unify the churches' parishioners came when Laughman and Maxwell announced their resignations within about a week of one another. He said the two deacon boards merged into one and he was named its chairman.
"We're looking forward to doing more of an outreach into the neighborhood," he said, adding that the church will put an emphasis on worshipful music. He said the church has an organ on loan from the Estey Organ Museum on Birge Street, as its curator is a brother to Tri-State's musical director.
Nickerson, who grew up in the area and first became a deacon in 1995, said he and Laitres also are making an effort to bring the church into technological age. He said weekly services will be put up on the website (www.pbcjoyful.org) and there will soon be efforts to live-stream the services over the Internet.
Tri-State also has a Twitter account (@TSBBCNH) and a Facebook profile.
The service times are 9:30 a.m. on Sunday for the Sunday School Hour, 10:45 a.m. for the morning worship and a 6 p.m. Sunday evening service. There also is a prayer meeting and bible study, along with a children's program, at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.
A week of vacation bible school is planned for this summer.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.