The Jamesport Meeting House
By Richard Wines and Jane Roberts (Edited by Jon Hanson)
The meeting house at Jamesport, now over 275 years old, is the oldest religious structure on the East End of Long Island. However, its history has by no means been smooth and uneventful. Instead, this remarkable survivor, built the year before George Washington was born, has witnessed all sorts of controversy and dissension. Its members have struggled with membership and finances; they have argued and split over theological issues difficult to fathom today; and several times the church fell on really hard times – but remarkably, each time it was resurrected, and again came to play an important role in the lives of the communities it served.
The meeting house came alive again in the spring of 2005 when the North Fork Unitarian Universalist Fellowship moved into the building and began holding services in the sanctuary every Sunday, within the same structure and with much the same cultural, spiritual and architectural vision of people for the last almost 300 years.
For the past ten years the NFUUF has struggled to remain independent in spite of problems with fluctuating membership and finances and has persevered in its search for an appropriate place to gather for spiritual enrichment. The link and correlation with the past has been established once again as the meeting house emerges with and important role in the community.
Church bells toll once more for weddings and on Sundays in the simple, freshly painted sanctuary. Music and flowers regularly fill the space. There are meetings and gatherings for youth groups and for community projects. Bulbs are planted by the congregation’s children on the grounds and a thrift shop operates in the parsonage next door on two weekend days each week. The meeting house truly has been resurrected yet another time, 300 years since its beginning. It gives one pause to reflect.