Summer Services in the Old Heritage Church

old church that is used for summer services only in Topsail, NL
Sharon Smith

St. John the Evangelist, Topsail

It’s the second Sunday of July 2022. With the sun’s rays encompassing the earth in our midst, as I turn the corner of rectory road, chimes from the proverbial bell permeate the atmosphere, beckoning folks to worship. This is the fist Sunday since before the pandemic that evening services for July and August have resumed in our old heritage church. This year marks the one hundred and sixty-second anniversary of its consecration, exactly twelve months after the first sod was turned voluntarily by a few residents from Topsail.

The undertaking was encouraged by its first priest, the Rev’d Charles Palairet, who was from Frances, and consecrated by Bishop Feild. It sustained parishioners from Manuels to Topsail for one hundred and fourteen years, until lack of space became an issue. This necessitated the structure of our present church and the transition of parishioners in 1974.

The Rev’d Sydney Bradbrook was the last priest to celebrate in the old church and guided us through the transition to the new. It was difficult for the elderly to turn their backs on our modest shrine, which was warmed on cold winter Sunday mornings with a wood burning pot bellied stove. However, it wasn’t
just the elderly who maintained a sentimentality for our initial place of worship, and the welcoming echo from the belfry as its chimes fill the surrounding area. Howard Brown, who was a young archivist and dedicated member of the parish at the time, committed and encouraged Sunday evening worship in the old church during the summer months. He also volunteered to direct guided tours of the premises and cemetery. Sadly, Howard passed away a few years ago, but his legacy lived on through the inspiration of our Deacon Lisa Cox.

The practice was put on hold for three summers when COVID-19 was more prevalent, but the Rev’d Jotie Noel, our current rector, has once again resurrected Sunday evening worship during July and August in our shrine—an ecclesiastical heirloom, still structurally adequate for this mission.

“…your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” Acts 2:17b

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