Chuck Ives

Rock church ready to roll

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Manset Union Church on Seawall Road is reinventing itself and changing its name to The Rock Church – Acadia.

Chuck Ives is still the pastor, but he said the focus, outlook and tone are different.

The congregation will celebrate its reinvention as the Rock Church – Acadia with a free spaghetti dinner for the public on Saturday, March 28, at 5 p.m. A band from the Rock Church in Sullivan will play.

Manset Union Church is the oldest continuously operating church on Mount Desert Island, according to Ives. He said church attendance has remained strong in the summer, but sometimes drops to fewer than 10 in the winter.

“At the same time, here’s a community that is incredibly needy when it comes to families that are breaking apart and youth that really have no sense of any kind of values,” Ives said.

He said members of the Manset Union Church have not always been very welcoming to people like that.

“I’ve often heard them say we would like to have some good people coming into our church,” he said. “Well, I’ve been to seminary, and I’ve been in the ministry for more than 30 years, and my recollection is that Jesus didn’t come for the ‘good’ people. He came for the down and out.”

Ives said he and his wife had heard about the Rock Churches of Maine and a while back visited the one in Sullivan.

“We saw an energy and vibrancy and a faith that was incredibly appealing to us,” he said.

Ives visited with the leader of the Rock Churches of Maine, which now has six member churches. He then persuaded members of the Manset Union Church to drop their long-time affiliation with the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, known as the Four Cs, and join the Rock Churches.

“We didn’t object to the Four Cs,” he said. “It’s just that it really wasn’t encouraging people to go out into the highways and byways.”

He said the new, non-denominational church is looking to help people whose lives are difficult and those who might be at risk of getting into trouble.

“We want to be sort of like a hospital, bringing in people who need to have a touch of faith and goodness and wholesomeness and health,” he said. “That’s what we’re all about.”

To help attract younger people and people who are not traditional church-goers, the Rock Church – Acadia has replaced the old, standard hymns with more contemporary Christian music, which Ives calls “fresh praise” music.

“We’re looking for a good guitar player and maybe a set of drums,” he said.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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