One of the first official acts of the new town in 1790 was to hire the services of a Congregational minister; the Rev. Jacob Herrick stayed until 1828. After existing in several locations, the present day church building at the Bend was completed in 1951. The Society of Friends established in 1775 a Durham Meeting which continues today. Inspired by Jesse Lee’s preaching, residents established the Methodist Episcopal Church in West Durham in 1804. The Baptist Union Church was begun by 1835; it was later used as the town hall and presently houses the Durham Historical Society. In 1894, Frank W. Sanford brought his “Holy Ghost and Us Bible School” to Durham, and in 1896 began the building to be called Shiloh. The final three story building (completed in 1903) was the largest Bible School building in the world. The main section of the building still stands and is used by the present day Shiloh church. In general, church membership in Durham has waxed and waned over the centuries; today many have joined congregations in other towns.
The fraternal orders and their ladies’ auxiliaries have traditionally provided social stimulus. As the automobile came to provide fast, comfortable travel, people sought amusement and recreation in larger towns. However, today, groups include the Amvets and Amvets Auxillary (chartered 1964), The Masons Acacia Lodge (established 1865). Several organizations such as the Knights of Good Templars or the Solid Rock Grange and Order of the Eastern Star (constituted in 1914) are no longer in existence. The Eureka Grange #7 (organized in 1874 and the Grange Hall built in 1906), is no longer active as a Grange organization, though the building has been restored for use as a community center.