St. Paul’s in Goulds: Celebrating 60 Years of Building God’s Kingdom

The Rev'd Fred Marshall

On Sunday, December 3rd, 2023, St. Paul’s in Goulds celebrated their 60th Anniversary with Bishop Sam presiding.  The Rev’d Reuben Hatcher, who was rector fifty years earlier, and former Rector, The Rev’d Lynn Courage we in attendance.

In 1957 The Rev’d W. F. Ralph was deeply concerned about growing the Anglican congregation in this area and the inadequacy of the two small existing churches of Presentation and St. Matthew.  From 1907 the small Presentation Church served the Goulds area, and since 1913 the small St. Matthew’s church served Kilbride. Rev’d Ralph had a strong conviction that some move had to be made to combine the two congregations with a long-range view of building a new church to serve both. At a joint congregational meeting on February 7th, 1958, it was agreed to set up an appeal for one new church building.

In 1958 Rev’d Ralph left the parish to continue his ministry on the mainland. However, Canon T. E. Loder continued the forward movement begun by Rev’d Ralph. Canon Loder retired in July of 1960 and The Rev’d Canon George Martin, appointed by Bishop Meaden, became rector. During these years much clergy and lay leadership led to the “Breaking of the Ground Ceremony” on May 21st, 1961, and then the laying of the corner stone on October 28th, 1962. The official opening service of St. Paul’s took place at 11am on December 8th the 2nd Sunday of Advent with The Rt. Rev’d John Alfred Meaden, the Lord Bishop of Newfoundland, presiding. In the years since, with the inspiration and hard work of many clergy and the congregation St. Paul’s has been an active participant in building God’s kingdom in this area for 60 years.

If you were to read the history of St. Paul’s Anglican Church from the 25th Anniversary booklet, you would see that building the church and participating in God’s work was not always easy. From an article in the 50th Anniversary booklet – Fraser Stanley wrote, “There have been many difficult times over the fifty-year life of St. Paul’s.”  Frazer talks about the many challenges and ends with “What would St. Paul’s do without the ACW?” Frazer continued, “St. Paul’s has come a long way since it opened its doors but we still have a long way to go. With God’s blessing may our congregation continue to grow.”  

Since 1963, much has changed. The people who were so active in the many worship, educational, and outreach programs from years ago are either no longer able to offer themselves for active service, or have passed on to the greater Glory. The world and the people in it have changed. For many, Sunday mornings are now times for recreation and other activities. Shift work and job rotations prevent many from participating in church life. There are headlines such as, “The decline in religious belief and practice among young adults is an oncoming train for which we are not remotely prepared.”  All of these changes can certainly take the wind out of our sails. It may seem that our dreams of building God’s Kingdom are left behind on some distant shore. We may feel our ship is sinking—there is no sight on the horizon of anyone coming to save us. However, we should never lose site that St. Paul’s is not our ship—it is God’s ship. God is always in control and God will continue to give us dreams, maybe leading us in new directions and destinations. How we respond: that is up to us.

The Rev‘d Fred Marshall, Canon Lynn Courage, Canon Reuben Hatcher, Bishop Sam Rose

Rev’d Ralph could have said this is too much work. Sixty years ago, the lay people (some of whom have family who still worship at St. Paul’s today) could have said, “This it too much to ask physically and financially.” The many clergy and lay people who followed could have thrown in the towel many times. But they did not. They all trusted in God and here we are today celebrating 60 years of building God’s Kingdom, and I would hope to say with many many more years to come.

Yes, things have changed significantly since 1963. We have been blessed with the legacy which both God and those before us have bestowed upon us. We are here today with an acre of freshly turned soil looking forward with anticipation to help feed the less fortunate next fall. We have a Friday Night Kids program that has over 60 young people, many of whom have no affiliation with any church, who come here to learn about Jesus. We are here today with an ACW who continues to be active in keeping St. Paul’s alive in so many ways. God has much more work for us to do in our community.

To God be the glory for the work that was completed over these 60 years; for the present labours, and for the future goals of our visionaries. Blessings to the past, present and future.

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