For many years St. Peter’s Church, Upper Gullies, had two women’s groups. One group met in St. Andrew’s School in Seal Cove. The other met in St. Peter’s School, Upper Gullies. In the day when women did not attend synod or serve as members of the vestry, these women quietly and faithfully prepared the church for worship each Sunday and worked diligently to raise money to help pay the light bill and other regular costs of running a church. A few years after a new hall was built on the church, the two groups combined. The ACW minutes for February 12, 1985 recorded that “the first meeting of the joint ACW’s … was held at the Parish Hall.”
Early in January, a few members of the ACW, having grown restless because of restrictions caused by the pandemic, decided to do some housecleaning in the ACW room. In the process they opened an old trunk that used to be kept in St. Andrew’s ACW room. Among the precious memorabilia was a framed photograph of Mary Ann Kelly, “13 yrs. WA Pres. CEWA.” They had not heard of Mary Ann Kelly, but they immediately knew that this was a valuable piece of St. Peter’s church history. After discussing it among themselves, they decided to give it to the Archdeacon Buckle Memorial Archive where it would become part of the St. Peter’s Upper Gullies collection.
I am writing about this because I know there are other “old trunks” that contain important historic documents and pictures that help tell the story of our church in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are old vestry minutes and church pictures in someone’s attic or a box of papers that belonged to a church warden or secretary from the past that belong in an archive. The Archdeacon Buckle Memorial Archive exists to safeguard important “moments in time” that help tell the story of who we are. If you have something like this in your home, please consider donating it to the archive where it will be preserved and made available to anyone interested in researching their church history. Just as Bible stories that began with real moments in time continue to inspire us, stories of our recent past reflect who we are and can become soup for our souls today.
Who was Mary Ann Kelly? I have talked with several people and no one was able to tell me anything about her. But with a little research, I learned that she was the daughter of the blacksmith Job Coates of Upper Gullies and his wife Eliza Gilbert of Harbour Buffet. She married George Kelly of Lance Cove (part of Upper Gullies today). Mary Ann and two of her three children (who died under the age of two) are buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery. Take a moment to reflect upon this photograph and give thanks for all that was beautiful and good in Mary Ann Kelly. Mary Ann was much more than president of the WA for thirteen years. What can you add to her story?