St. Peter’s (Hopewell) Upper Gullies, Part 2

The original church building

The first part of this historical review, which appeared in the June issue of Anglican Life, ended with the death of the Rev’d Benjamin Fleet and the succession of another English missionary, the Rev’d Edward Colley. This part will commence from that point in history.

According to the Newfoundland Churchman, the building which was replaced by the St. Peter’s Church was an old Methodist church. Issues of the Diocesan Magazine available back to 1894, included news from a Hopewell correspondent who shares something of parish life during Rev’d Coley’s time.

Concerts were staged for the building of a school, which was  completed in 1895.

“Directly it was finished,” the account states, “the ‘Band of Hope’ which had not met for three years, was reorganized”. The following year the correspondent wrote that the school board resources, “are so crippled that, by existing arrangement, one teacher has to divide his time between the two schools of Upper Gullies and Seal Cove—three miles apart.” The congregation raised $30.00 toward getting a teacher for each school through a tea and entertainment, for which the Cathedral in St. John’s lent its piano, which it sent on the train. “The neighboring places were well-represented,” wrote the correspondent, “even our village patriarch, Mr. George Kelly (aged 94) walked the distance from Lance Cove ….”.

While the official record of talks regarding a new church building is found in minutes of the annual meeting of 1899, a report on the state of Hopewell Church from 1895 indicates that the old building was starting to cause major concerns. This report too comes from the Hopewell correspondent to the Diocesan Magazine.

“Hopewell Church: Standing on the summit of a rise, very aptly termed ‘Windy Hill,’ it had many years been supported upon wooden shores which had long ago become to infirm to safely bear their burden, so for the last few years some pillars of stone have been warding off collapse. This fall, however, under the superintendence of the church warden, Mr. Alfred Andrews, a well-finished stone was built by some men of the congregation, and thankful, indeed are we that it is done. No longer now, we hope, will the lamps swing in perfect time to the threatening gales, nor will the wintry blasts find it henceforth so easy to come in upon us from beneath. Although it was a very necessary work, the approaching winter will prove to us the benefit of what has at last been accomplished”.

By the time Rev’d Henry Petley succeeded Colley in 1897, the time was right for new developments. By then the mission in Topsail had split, and Hopewell was part of the new Mission of Foxtrap and Hopewell. The age and condition of the old church at Hopewell was not the only problem. In 1900 Hopwell’s correspondent told The Diocesan Magazine that the old church simply wasn’t big enough.

“It must be apparent to all, the account says, that the time has come when Hopwell should have a larger and more suitable building for God’s worship.” There followed this plea for everyone to pull their weight: “This cannot be attained otherwise than by an earnest effort and a determined pull on the part of the congregation. The urgency of the need will not permit our idly folding the hands and doing nothing, nor is it generous to look on cooly while others are grappling with the difficulty and labouring in such a laudable undertaking and for our benefit”.

The next article will outline the effort made by the church community to rise to the occasion to ensure the church was completed.

This article is based on information researched, appropriately referenced and presented to the Parish by a committee of the Church for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the church in 1905. 

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