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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Former Nashua Baptist church reborn in Hudson

HUDSON – A Baptist church in the way of Nashua’s Broad Street Parkway has found a new home – and a new identity – across the border in Hudson.

Members of Faith Baptist Church are celebrating the opening of the church’s new home at 321 Derry Road. The church also has adopted a new name, Lighthouse Baptist Church, reflecting its transition to a new community. ...

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HUDSON – A Baptist church in the way of Nashua’s Broad Street Parkway has found a new home – and a new identity – across the border in Hudson.

Members of Faith Baptist Church are celebrating the opening of the church’s new home at 321 Derry Road. The church also has adopted a new name, Lighthouse Baptist Church, reflecting its transition to a new community.

Church members searched for more than a year to find a space that was affordable and big enough for the congregation, which includes about 190 people.

Although they couldn’t remain in Nashua, the Rev. Keith Phemister said they were blessed to get assistance from a loan officer and the state, allowing them to move into a former medical office building in Hudson.

“The biggest challenge was just finding a place,” Phemister said. “We didn’t want to go too far, because whenever you move, you could lose people because of the distance. As far as I know, we have lost no one, which in itself is just a miracle.”

Faith Baptist Church was founded about 21 years ago by a pastor in Tyngsborough, Mass. The congregation moved to Nashua about 15 years ago, and was previously located inside a roughly 20,000-square-foot portion of the mill building at 3 Pine St. Extension.

The church draws participants from around Greater Nashua. About 60 children also take part in a youth program. Some are bused in from as far away as Lowell, Mass., riding on a pair of buses painted with the church’s name and phone number on the exterior.

The church also is home to a growing Spanish-language ministry, which draws about 40 participants each Sunday, Phemister said.

The relocation to Hudson was prompted several years ago when the church learned that its rented space in Nashua was slated for partial demolition. About one-third of the Millyard building in Nashua was acquired for the Broad Street Parkway project.

The building was formerly the Nashua Manufacturing Co. Railroad Depot, built in 1848. It was taken to make room for the southern section of the parkway, which will connect Broad Street to Nashua’s downtown, allowing commuters to bypass busy Amherst Street and providing a second downtown crossing of the Nashua River.

The church began renovating its new building in Hudson in October after buying the property. Parishioners chipped in money and volunteered to renovate the space, gutting the interior to create Sunday school classrooms, office space and a main hall, complete with a piano and space for a choir.

Early estimates put the cost of the project at $300,000 or more, Phemister said, but the church managed to get the work done for roughly $60,000 thanks to the efforts of his parishioners.

Despite all of the hard work, the 6,000-square-foot space is significantly smaller than the church’s former home.

Phemister said the church hopes to build an addition with a gymnasium to accommodate Sunday school programming within the next two years.

For now, Phemister is looking at the new building as a blessing. With no other independent Baptist church in Hudson, Phemister said the relocation provides an opportunity to connect with new communities outside Nashua, such as Derry and Londonderry.

Phemister entered the pastorate in Tennessee in 1998, and traveled to the Northeast to help spread the Baptist faith. He worked in Carver, Mass., before becoming pastor at Faith Baptist Church in Nashua six years ago.

Phemister has presided over three services in the new building. The church is preparing for a grand opening and dedication service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Phemister said those who attend can expect spirit-filled singing and good preaching, and to have their lives challenged with the word of God.

“People who come are also going to find a friendly church,” he said.

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 594-6589 or jhaddadin@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Haddadin on Twitter (@Telegraph_JimH).