MANCHESTER — Two men, separated by two centuries, were at the heart of a monument unveiling and dedication Thursday at the North Manchester Meeting House that drew nearly 200 people to the site of the historic church.

Isaac Case, who settled with his family in Readfield in the closing years of the 18th century, was already a noted Baptist minister and missionary in what was to become Maine, following a stint in the Army during the American Revolution. He continued his work in Maine and eastern Canada throughout his long life, but he always returned to his family and home just outside of Augusta. Accounts of his life and ministry say Case planted — started or helped to start — more than 350 churches and had won and baptized more than 1,000 converts during his life.

His accomplishments are etched into a granite monument that now stands by the side of the meeting house, placed by the Baptist History Preservation Society.

The monument is also linked to the Rev. Craig Lathrop, in whose memory the monument was donated,

Lathrop, who died in 2016, was a Baptist pastor at the Tri Town Baptist Church in East Millinocket, but he had many ties to central Maine. Lathrop graduated from Gardiner Area High School before he earned a degree in biblical studies from Antioch Bible Baptist Institute in Tennessee. And he was one of the Church Hill Boys, a group of friends and fellow pastors with links to the Church Hill Baptist Church in Augusta.

Jenny Lathrop, who attended the brief church service and dedication with four of her children, said she was overwhelmed by the turnout. The church has a capacity of 180 and all the seats were filled.

“He was saved on June 18, 1995. That’s when he became God’s child. Because of that, he’s with the Lord today — not because he was born, but because he was born again,” Lathrop said.

Members of the Baptist History Preservation Society traveled to Maine from Rockwell, North Carolina, to mark the dedication, arriving by charter bus in time for the brief service in the historic meeting house. They already had stopped at sites in Haverhill and Newburyport, Massachusetts, to visit the graves of noted Baptist ministers and a historic church.

The society hosts tours to connect Baptists to their history and erects memorial markers to commemorate the lives of noted Baptists; it’s a ministry of the Harvest Baptist Church.

The Rev. Jeff Faggart, pastor of Harvest Baptist, called Lathrop another church planter, and said the money to pay for the monument was given in Lathrop’s memory by Church Hill Baptist Church.

The North Manchester Meeting House has been a part of Manchester life for about 180 years, although the building itself is older. Its age is clearly shown in its door latches and steep, narrow stairs to the balconies, and by its historic box pews. It’s devoid of ornamentation and has only a simple cross in the sanctuary.

The church was built in East Readfield in 1793.

Readfield town historian Dale Potter-Clark said as more people moved to what’s now North Manchester, they became less willing to travel to the church in East Readfield. After some debate, she said, members of the church voted to move it to its current location.

“It took 10 years of discussions,” Valerie Dawes said, and once that was done, the building was dismantled, moved and reassembled in North Manchester.

Dawes, from Manchester, and Potter-Clark, who lives in Vassalboro, were both on hand to see the dedication.

Potter-Clark has spent years studying Case and has written a monograph about his ministry.

“I felt so thrilled this is happening,” she said.

Now, David Worthing, president of the North Manchester Meeting House Association, said the church Elder Case planted more than 200 years ago has been a sanctuary for Baptists and people of all faiths.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

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Twitter: @JLowellKJ