Grand Pre Covenanter Church
Over two hundred years ago, some two hundred settlers of Presbyterian and Congregational stock emigrated from Connecticut, the British Isles, and the New England Colonies. Some settled in Grand Pre where they built a humble meeting house and were ministered to occasionally by two ministers, Rev. Samuel Kinlock and Rev. James Lyon.
The first settled minister, Rev. James Murdock, an Irishman, was a graduate of Edinburgh. in 1766 he was sent to Nova Scotia or any part of America, where God in His providence, should call. Landing at Halifax, he was assistant in the Protestant congregation now known as St. Matthew's Church. In 1773 he came to Grand Pre where he laboured for twenty years with great success in the midst of many difficulties. He died at his last charge, Musquodoboit, in 1799.
In 1791, the Rev. George Gillmore came to this charge and remained for twenty years. At this time Presbyterianism was at a low ebb, but still in 1804, a start was made on the building of this Church. It was not completed until 1811 in the year Mr. Gillmore died.
Mr. Gillmore came to Nova Scotia in 1785, living in Ardoise where he received a free grant of land for his services. One winter his family subsisted on potatoes and milk. On one occasion he walked to Halifax trying in vain to mortgage his farm for a barrel of flour! Yet, in the midst of poverty and many difficulties he continued 'Faithful unto Death'. Buried in the cemetery close by the Church the headstone on his grave carries the following obituary in Latin:
this grave lies the body of George Gillmore, who on the
of September in the 91st year of his age died in the year of our Lord
He received ordination at the hands of the Presbytery. For many
he preached the gospel, unholy contact with the irreligious crowd did
turn him from the right path. Through varied experiences, through
many different conditions of things, full of faith and holding fast to
belief, lamented by many good people he died. ‘Remember that thou
The next twenty years saw occasional supply given by Rev. George Forsythe of Cornwallis, and Rev. George Struthers of Glasgow.
In 1833, Rev. William Sommerville, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Ireland, came and this marks the beginning of the Covenanter regime. The Covenanters were Presbyterians who rebelled against the Stuart Kings who tried to abolish their denomination in the early part of the 17th century. After much suffering they emigrated to a land where they could enjoy "Freedom of Worship."
Mr. Sommerville remained until 1878. By his long pastorate and strong personality the Presbyterian Church became the property of The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland. His successor, the Rev. Thomas McFall gave monthly service until 1894.
Rev. Anderson Rogers, coming to Wolfville in 1882 as a summer student, gave supply in Grand Pre. In 1883 he was succeeded by Rev. R. D. Ross. In 1888 Chalmers Church - now the School House - was built for $3,000. It continued as a house of worship until it was sold to the school trustees in 1912. Three hundred dollars of the money received was paid to the Reformed Church to relinquish any claims and this Church became the property of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
The union of the Wolfville Methodist and Presbyterian Churches in 1923 was soon followed by a union of the Lower Horton Methodist and the Presbyterian Church in Grand Pre.
Rev. G. W. Miller preached in this Church from 1912-1923. Since the Union of 1925, when this Church became the property of the United Church of Canada, the following have Ministered: Rev. J. U. Bell, Rev. G. F. Sears, Rev. D. I. Gordon, Rev. C. L. Gesner, Rev. C. H. Johnson, Rev. C. E. Crowell, Rev. William MacDonald, Rev. J. C. Parker, Mr. Maxwell Skinner, Rev. A. R. Wallis, Rev. H. H. Blanchard, Rev. R. M. Shaw, Rev. J. S. Hamilton and the Rev. T. M. Simms.
Rev. George Gillmore, who so faithfully served this church, has many descendants ordained to the Christian Ministry - Dr. John B. Corston, Pine Hill Divinity Hall, Halifax, N.S.; Rev. J. R. Scott (Deceased); Rev. A. Gillmore, Episcopal Church, East Boston; Rev. H. L. Smith, Baptist Church, Troy, N.H.; Rev. R. Tucker, Episcopal Church, Winthrop, Mass.; Rev. C. Patterson, Congregationalist, Arlington, Mass.; Rev. R. W. E. DeWolfe, Baptist Church, Hartford, Conn.; Rev. W. A. DeWolfe, Universalist-Unitarian Church., Sixteen Acres, Springfield, Mass.; Rev. W. H. Beckwith, Episcopal Church Mayaguez, Puerto Pico.
A legacy left by Charles D. Hunter, a grandson of Rev. George Gillmore, established the Hunter Building Fund that assists church building in the Province of Nova Scotia.
The Covenanter Church is now
linked, with St. Andrew's United Church
Wolfville and as such is a part of the Wolfville
1967 it was closed except for anniversary service each year. In
Sunday morning services were introduced during July and August, meeting
a good measure of support from both tourists and residents. Since
services have been held on Sunday evenings from the first Sunday in
to the Sunday before Christmas. Dr. J.R.C. Perkin, in
with the minister and session of St. Andrew's United Church, has
and given leadership in the fall services. His books In Season and
Seedtime and Harvest contain
some of his sermons preached in this building.
Web editors notes 2017: - Additional names
of ministers who are descendants
of Rev. George Gillmore, include Presbyterians, Rev. Thurson Royal Scott, Los Gatos,
CA, and his son Rev. Shannon Royal Scott, CA; and
Rev. Mark Mosher DeWolfe, Mississauga Unitarian Congregation, ON.
Wolfville United Church is now part of Orchard Valley United Church.
A excellent history called Winds of Change: The People of the Covenanter Church Grand Pre was published in – 2003 by Heather Anne Davidson (Author)
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