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CHURCHES OF LAWRENCETOWN

Valley West Meeting House Lawrencetown Baptist Church
United Church of Canada Anglican Church - St. Andrew's at Ease
Other Religions Cemeteries

THE VALLEY WEST MEETING HOUSE

The first Baptist Church in the district was known as the Valley West Meeting House. Built in 1845, it was on the south side of Lawrencetown. This was to accommodate the Baptist families of Williamston and Inglisville. Methodist meetings were occasionally held here. The church occupied the level ground between the Whitman, or Valley West Cemetery, and the road to South Williamston. There was an old willow tree in front of the cemetery which is said to have been planted by the French. The front of the church had two doors and a verandah supported by four graceful Ionic pillars. The verandah extended the width of the church. Inside, the pews had doors with buttons to keep the children from roaming. Collection was taken by means of a black bag on the end of a long rod. After the new church in Lawrencetown was built, the hall in Williamston and a new building in Inglisville supplied the needs of the people and the Valley West Meeting House lost its usefulness. It was removed in 1897 and converted into a barn, which was owned in 1967 by Carl Ruggles of Inglisville.

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THE LAWRENCETOWN BAPTIST CHURCH

The first Baptist services held in Lawrencetown were conducted by ministers who came from neighbouring communities. One of the visitors was Reverend William G. Parker of Nictaux and Lawrencetown was reportedly "the scene of his greatest success." He preached here for several years. The number of Baptists in Lawrencetown at that time was small. There were only ten Baptists in 1861. The first services were held in the upper room in what is now Dr. Frank Morse's garage. The ladies formed a sewing circle and raised funds toward a church of their own. They purchased a suitable site. In those days they did not have any organs and the choir leader used to strike a tuning fork to get the right pitch. Baptizing was held in the river, south of Mr. Leslie Brown's house at all times of the year. Sunday School picnics were held on the island. Sometimes the church people went to Port Lorne in wagons filled with hay for a cozy trip.

During the early 1900s the members of the Baptist Church were strict, prim and proper. If anyone had performed any sinful action such as dancing or watching people dance, they would have to confess their sin on the day before they were to receive communion. There was one case where a man was refused communion because he had sold "bad" milk to a cheese factory and had not confessed his sin.

The Lawrencetown Baptist Church was begun in 1873 and in 1876 the Baptists dedicated their first church. The steeple was a striking feature and rose to a height of one hundred and two feet. This structure was destroyed by fire on February 12, 1938.

The present building was erected following the destruction of its predecessor and was dedicated on June 11, 1939. In 1942 the church possessed the only electric organ in the three village churches. On October 3, 1948 the 75th Anniversary Services were held. The 85th Anniversary Services in 1958 were highlighted by the dedication of the Christian Education Building. Mrs. O.A. Eisner donated a memorial window in the choir loft in memory of her husband, Deacon O.A. Eisner, in 1963. During the 90th Anniversary Services addresses were given by Mrs. Ida Newcombe Gullison. She was a missionary who went to India from this church. In 1967 the burning of the mortgage on the Christian Education Building took place and on January 31, 1971, the first radio broadcast service from this church occurred with Rev. John S. Beers preaching. In 1973 the church celebrated its 100th Anniversary.

REASONS FOR GROWTH OF THIS CHURCH

1. Rule of the Majority2. Dedicated Leaders
3. Strong Ladies' Organizations4. Strong Sunday School
5. Good Music6. Good Relations With Other Churches
7. Resident Ministers8. Charitable Spirit
9. Uniformity of Congregation10. The Bible
11. Tolerence12. Prayer

MINISTERS WHO HAVE SERVED THE CHURCH DURING THE 100 YEARS

Rev. W.G. Parker 1873-1876Rev. G.N. Ballentyne 1876-1877
Rev. J.A. Blakeney 1878-1880 Rev. R.D. Porter 1881-1887
Rev. J.T. Eaton 1887-1894Rev. J.H. King 1895-1897
Rev. L.F. Wallace 1897-1900Rev. W.L. Archibald 1900-1904
Rev. M.W. Brown 1905-1907Rev. H.S. Bagnall 1908-1909
Rev. H.G. Mellick 1909-1916 Rev. F.H. Beals 1917-1921
Rev. A.H. Whitman 1922-1928Rev. C.O. Howlett 1928-1939
Rev. G.W. Guiou 1939-1940Rev. W.A. Harper 1941-1950
Rev. K.R. Hobson 1951-1954 Rev. N.G. Price 1955-1958
Rev. D.M. Quigg 1959-1964Rev. R.F. Panter 1964-1968
Rev. J.A. Beers 1969-1974Rev. W.A. Smith 1974-1977

GIFTS

There have been many gifts donated to the church in the past. Among these are the following: Mrs. Marion Bancroft Morse bequeathed the brass flower vases on the platform; Mr. Frank M. Whitman donated the Pulpit Bible; Mrs. Israel Brown donated a leather-bound hymn book for the minister in memory of her son, Alton and Mr. Horton W. Phinney donated a piano for use in the church auditorium at the dedication of the second church in 1939.

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UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

This congregation traces it's origins back to the time of the 19th century. The record is obscure but the evidence suggests that some of the first Methodists in Lawrencetown may have been won by the Methodist pioneer, William Black, who visited the area in 1782, or by his successors. A little more is known of Andrew Henderson from Northern Ireland who landed in Saint John in 1818. After remaining there for a year or two, he, with his wife and child, crossed the Bay to take the position of a school teacher in the Wilmot township at Clarence or the Back Settlement. Here he found a congenial Christian communion. He organized a Sunday School at Lawrencetown in 1821, said to have been the first opened in the province.

The original Methodist meeting house built in 1822, continued to exist as a part of a barn on the W.C. Whitman (later Ronald Shaffner) property until 1966 when it collapsed. In 1844 the Methodists built a second church which was destroyed by fire on December 27, 1884. Construction on the third present building was begun at once. The work occupied about two years and on the first Sunday in May 1887, the completed edifice was dedicated. The Methodist publication, The Wesleyan, told the story of the new church in these words: "The main room is 40' x 40', with the Sunday School room 40' x 65'. The finish is ash and black walnut and is a very great credit to the builder- Mr. Israel Bowlby. The sewing circle, presided over by Mrs. J. Morgan, provided lamps, carpet, organ and other furniture." The Methodist parsonage was built in 1897. The first minister to serve the congregation on a regular basis, Sampson Busby, lived at Granville and had a circuit extending from Sandy Cove to Berwick.A division was made in 1833 and another in 1840 when Bridgetown and Lawrencetown became a separate circuit. From 1859 until 1891, Lawrencetown was associated with Middleton. After 1891, Lawrencetown was at the head of an independent charge including Inglisville, Port George, Paradise and Mount Hanley. With the union of the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregationalist churches in 1925, the people of these congregations became a part of the United Church of Canada. Under the leadership of Rev. Allen C.MacLean (1960 - 62) the pastoral charge enjoyed an extremely active revival of enthusiasm. The quickened spirit which descended upon the people renewed their beautiful church, the spire of which, towering above the village elms, is a landmark of the town. Palm Sunday 1961, was a day which should long live in the hearts of the people of the United Church of Lawrencetown. In September, 1960, the congregation undertook the renovation of their church. New furnishings, paneling of red oak and a modern chancel were added. The Sunday before Easter was the time of dedication for the result of their effort and stewardship.

Below is a list of ministers serving the Lawrencetown Congregation preceded by the date of their arrival. Most of those listed prior 1824 passed through the area as itinerant preachers and consequently their ministry was of a very limited nature.

1785 Freeborn Garretson 1791 John Cooper
1792 W.A. Black 1795 William Grandin
1802 John Marsden 1810 William Sutcliffe,James Prestley and William Bonnet
1813 William Croscombe 1814 Richie Armstrong
1815 James Duncan and Adam Clark Avard 1816 Thomas Cotterell
1818 Sampson Busby, John Snowball, and Thomas Payne 1819 Stephen Bamford
1821 John B. Strong 1824 Sampson Busby
1827 Albert DesBrisay 1828 Joseph Bent
1830 Michael Pickles, Samuel Joll 1832 Michael Williams, William Bannister
1833 Richard D. Williams 1834 George Miller, Peter Sleep
1835 H.M. Leggitt 1836 William Temple
1838 George Johnston, Peter Sleep 1840 J.S. Hennigar
1845 William Smithson 1847 William Temple
1849 A. McNutt 1852 M. Pickles
1855 W. Wison 1858 M. Pickles and Samuel Avery
1860 A.B. Black 1863 R. Weddall,Sr.
1866 G.M. Berrett 1869 J.L.S. Sponagle
1872 P. Prestwood 1873 J.J. Teasdale
1876 Joseph Gaetz 1879 R. Smith
1880 I.M. Melbish 1881 Stan Black
1882 Thomas Rogers, J.E. Donkin 1883 G.F. Johnson and Lamert Stevens
1884 H. Philips 1885 J.L. Barty
1886 P.H. Robinson 1889 J.E. Hooper
1892 J.R. Downey 1893 Charles M. Tyler
1895 J.H. Toole 1898 J. Astbury
1901 J. Gaetz 1904 E.E. England
1906 W. Brown 1909 J.A. Hart
1912 F.J. Armitage 1915 S.J. Boyce
1919 H.I. Jones 1922 W.H. Rackham
1925 A.B. Higgins 1930 A.S. Adams
1935 M.R. Ewing 1941 C.L. Gesner
1944 W.A. Dickson 1947 W.A. Palmer
1948 J.T. Irwin 1951 G.L.Westhaver
1953 W. Girdwood 1956 Adrian H. Stephen
1959 Morley Bently 1960 A.C. MacLean
1962 J.E. Henderson 1965 John Hartley
1966 Calder Fraser 1968 Robert Shaw
1973 Grant Walls

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THE ANGLIGAN CHURCH - ST. ANDREWS AT EASE

St. Andrews Chapel was founded in 1846, a grant of 25 pounds being given by the country to build it. The first rector was Rev. James Robertson who served from 1846-1877. St. Andrews is part of the parish of Wilmot. The parish of Wilmot had it's early foundations laid by the New England settlers, who cleared the land and began the first community in the 18th century. The United Empire Loyalists strengthened the community in numbers and dedication. The first Anglican Church to be built in the township was in Lower Middleton (Old Holy Trinity) in 1788. Today, once a year, this old church is opened and a service is held. The Rector of the new Holy Trinity Church in Middleton now also ministers to the St. Andrews congregation.

RECTORS AT ST. ANDREWS

1880-1888 George Branson Dodwell 1888-1889 Thomas Gwillim
1893-1896 John Edward Warner 1896-1903 Lawrence Amor
1902-1905 Frederick Mather Webster 1906-1910 John Edward Warner
1910-1924 W.S.H. Morris 1924-1928 Robert Miller
1928-1936 Charles C. Rand 1937-1947 T.R.B. Anderson
1948-1951 William H. Chard 1951-1965 J.S. Sherren
1965-1977 Melvin John Findlay

Some of the lovely oak furnishings in the St. Andrews Church were given in memory of members by their families: The Prayer Desk in memory of Lydia Anne Whitman, The Lectern in memory of Sergeant G.A. Jackson who was killed in action on September 1,1917 and the Litany Desk and Candle Snuffer in memory of Mr. Wilfred Chesley by his family. In 1966 a new electric organ replaced the old pump organ-purchased with memorials and donations from members. A beautiful brass hanging lamp with a red globe that burns continuously was given in memory of Miss Alice Jackson by her sister Mrs. Gladys Eby. Over the past few years some changes have been made at St. Andrews. A larger sacristy and a furnace room were made at the rear of the church and an oil heating system installed. Wall paneling and carpeting were added in the vestibule and sacristy. The old pews with the seat pads, wide floor boards and pine sheathing on the walls provide a charm and peace not found in modern day structures.

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OTHER RELIGIONS

There was once a Salvation Army Barracks where the Demonstration Buildings are now. Here many people went to enjoy music and services. Roman Catholics attend Church Services in Middleton and Bridgetown.

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CEMETERIES

There are two cemeteries in Lawrencetown, the Whitman and Fairview cemeteries. The Fairview cemetery, located opposite Mrs. Gertrude Young's residence, was originally known as the Daniels cemetery, after the family who were granted this land. The initial burial took place not later than 1820, but it was not until 1907 that the name "Fairview" was adopted and others besides the Daniels family were interred here. The first memorial stone in the Whitman cemetery, located behind the site on which the Valley West Meeting House once stood, is dated 1814. These two burial grounds serve all three Lawrencetown churches.