On August 13, 1999, Thomas Eesley, ruling elder at Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine, passed away, succumbing to cancer after a three-year battle. A few months later, the Rev. John Galbraith (long-time summer resident of Maine where he attended Lakeview Church), remembered Eesley in the pages of New Horizons:
“Mr. Eesley was the kind of Orthodox Presbyterian that each of us should be: he regarded his faith as so precious and so important that when he moved from Maryland in 1953 to Rockport, he determined that, God willing, one day there would be an Orthodox Presbyterian church there. Not just a church. Not just a Presbyterian church. Only an Orthodox Presbyterian church. That was not merely from a denominational loyalty; even at the young age of twenty-two, the faith for which the Orthodox Presbyterian Church stands was so deeply rooted in his soul that no other church would do. By the time he died this summer at age 68, he had been able to see, in a flourishing congregation, that God had amply fulfilled his goal, his hopes, his determination, his prayers, and his work. And for him the glory was God’s.
“His gifts and calling were as an accountant, but his higher calling was as a Christian, and he longed for Reformed worship and fellowship. At first [Eesley and his wife] attended our Pilgrim Church in Bangor each Sunday, about fifty miles away, and soon joined there. In time he became a ruling elder, though biding his time and praying to start planting that church of his dreams in Rockport. As God began gathering vacationing Orthodox Presbyterian families into the area, he and his wife began prayer meetings in their home during the summer. Then they began to continue through the winter. Then worship services were begun at the YMCA in nearby Camden. More people were coming, both from the community and, as they say in Maine, ‘from away.’ Next, a church building was constructed, a pastor was called, and two years ago, a large addition was made. These days more people from other states are finding Maine to be a delightful retirement location and choosing a spot near or accessible to Lakeview Church, knowing that there they will receive a Reformed ministry. It all began with the commitment and determination of Thomas Eesley. May God raise up more like him.”
Picture: Pastor Charles Ellis meets with the trustees of Lakeview Church, circa 1980: l-r Ellis, Deacon Norman Meyer, Elder Garrett Vander Heide and Elder Thomas Eesley.