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March 1979 - The New Brunswick Anglican

An experiment in a rural New Brunswick Parish

The Anglican Parish of Prince William and Dumfries, cum Queensbury and Southampton, contains the area within the boundaries of those four geographic parishes of York County. The four Anglican Churches in the parish are: All Saints, Magaguadavic; St. John's, Nackawic; St. Luke's, Temperance Vale; and St Clement's, Prince William. All four churches were built in the days of the early settlement of the respective parishes in the latter part of the last century. St. Clement's and St. John's Churches were moved from their original locations at the time of the construction of the Trans Canada Highway and the Mactaquac Power Dam (St. John's was moved from Bear Island to Nackawic). The distance from All Saints to St. Luke's is approximately forty-five miles.

While the parish has been and remains an aided Parish of the Diocese, the Vestry has on recent occasions discussed the possibility of being self supporting.

Ten years ago the general health of the Parish was in very poor shape and the financial situation was very precarious. The Rectory, located at Prince William, and most of the churches were in need of repairs and a general feeling of defeatism prevailed.

The Churches had been built in the earlier days to accommodate the needs of the people of that time - when travel was chiefly by horse and wagon and the rural population was more thickly settled than was the situation today. As has been experienced in most rural areas of New Brunswick, there has been a very drastic decline in population in our Parish over a period of some fifty years, thus we share with many other rural Parishes a situation created by small numbers of people scattered over large geographical areas.

The Anglican population of the parish was close to three hundred but Church attendance had dwindled to a mere 3 per cent (under 10) at the various isolated Churches. There was considerable concern as to whether or not some of the Churches could remain viable and support continuity.

In 1969 Father Elmer Smith become Rector of the Parish. He has done much to provide leadership and to encourage us in the belief that, as a Christian Family working together the quality of our worship of Almighty God can be greatly improved.

It was interesting that, although many members of our Parish Family did not know each other, a number of people realized that change was necessary and at the annual meeting of the Parish in 1973 considerable discussion took place on the condition of the Parish and on what might be done to make a more positive stance toward the future.

Herb Morrell from St. John's Church provided much leadership to the discussion and during the meeting a motion was made by Bill Rae, seconded by Eileen Graham from St. Clement's Church, that, on an experimental basis, a new approach to working as a Parish Family be tried - namely, that services would be held at only one of the four churches each Sunday. It was further agreed that following each service a t ime for fellowship would take place, lunch being provided by the ladies of the Church where the service was being held. It was felt that in this way the people of the Parish would have a better opportunity to know each other, to share with each other and to accept the challenge of change would be necessary.

As had been agreed, a vote was taken one year later at the 1974 annual meeting of the Parish to determine whether or not it was the wish of the members to continue the experiment - the decision was unanimous that the rotation of services continue. In order to make the program more practical, the Churches of All Saints and St. Luke's agreed to close during the three winter months and join with St. Clement's and St. John's during that period. All Saints and St. Luke's are located on the periphery of the Parish and are not equipped with central heating.

At the same time, other changes were taking place in the Parish - our attitude toward change was improving and our confidence in the future success of our Parish Family was increasing. The New Eucharistic Rite, as recommended by the Diocese for trial, was accepted. The rotation of services and the fellowship hour have continued with increasing popularity and our members appreciate being able to participate in the various ways made available by the Trial Rite.

There was an upswing in the improvement of our buildings in the Parish, repairs were carried out, churches were painted and there were 'frolics' in which people from various churches helped each other with these improvements. 

The finances of the Parish improved greatly and realistic financial responsibility was accepted to the point where not only the operating expenses were being met but a reserve fund was established and a decided improvement in the quality of our worship of Almighty God was being felt throughout the Parish.

The greatest test of a revitalized rural parish was yet to be met with the undertaking of a major project in 1977-1978.

Much effort ad considerable money had been spent trying to repair the Rectory but it was still a very unsatisfactory building. In the winter of 1977 a professional appraisal was made to determine what could be done to bring the Rectory up to a reasonable standard of habitation. The report revealed that a minimum of $20,000 would be necessary to achieve this goal with the final result being an old building with less than adequate facilities - thus the consultants hesitated to recommend such a program of repairs. In July 1977, the Bishop arranged for a group of experts to inspect the Rectory and their report reconfirmed the recommendation of the consultants.

A decision was made that a new Rectory should be erected. A building committee and a financial committee were appointed and Mr. Stanley Emerson kindly agreed to assist with the architecture. A plan consisting of two stories containing approximately 2500 square feet was agreed upon. The building would be modern in every respect with the main floor consisting of a living-dining room, kitchen-family room, master bedroom, bathroom and foyer; the lower floor consisting of a study, three bedrooms, bathroom, cold room, storage room and closets.

Two acres of land adjacent to St. Clement's Church were acquired in exchange for the salvage value of the old Rectory. Construction began in early August, 1977 and Father Smith moved into the new Rectory in the spring of 1978.

The cost of the completed building was approximately $30.00 per square foot of floor space (considerably more than had been estimated). Some financial assistance was received from the Canada Works Program and assistance was gratefully received from the Diocese, but the major part of this large financial responsibility was carried by the people of the Parish. At the time of this writing the outstanding debt on the new Rectory is $4,000 and it is expected that this will be fully paid during the present year.

As well as undertaking this very large capital investment, the Anglican Parish of Prince William and Dumfries, cum Queensbury and Southampton, is progressing well on other fronts. The Churches are usually filled to capacity for Sunday Service, an active and energetic Church School is operating and ACWS are active.

Not only have we developed more confidence in the future of our Parish but we have grown to know each other in a way never before possible, we have learned a great deal and have become aware of a new relationship to our Lord and to our Brothers and Sisters.

The whole "Experiment in a Rural New Brunswick Parish" has worked out, not with collapse and pessimism, but with new life, new realizations and new hopes.

Our goal for the future is - To Grow as a Parish Family on our Worship of and commitment to Almighty God.