United Church St. Jones Within

March 8, 1981

 A Brief Historical Sketch

In 1861, just six years before our Canadian nation was born, the United States under President Abraham Lincoln entered into a civil war that severely crippled the nation. It was a significant year in world history.

In that same year, in a small sheltered harbour along the shores of South-West Arm, Methodism came to stay. In a home in St. Jones Within, in 1861, a Methodist service was held by Mr. William Blundell of Hickman`s Harbour. It was about this time that Mr. Blundell took up residence at St. Jones Within. The name Blundell was later changed to Blundon.

Since there seems to be no record of Methodism in South-West Arm before this date, St. Jones Within can perhaps claim to be the cradle of the United Church in this Arm. Rev. William Swann was the first clergyman in this area and lived in Shoal Harbour. The first record of a marriage in St. Jones Within, in the church register, is between William Blundell`s son, John, and Henrietta Benson of Grates Cove – married on December 30, 1873. This marriage took place in Mr. Blundell`s house which seems to indicate that a church (or chapel) had not yet been constructed. The next marriage recorded is between Matthias Garland and Elizabeth Price, Dec. 18, 1874. There is no mention of this marriage taking place in a home so this may indicate that a chapel was now in use for the first time.

One hundred years ago, in the Fall of 1881, Rev. James Lumsden arrived from England to be the minister of Random South. It is interesting that after 100 years our United Charge today still bears the name of Random South. By 1881 a circuit (or charge) had been formed which extended from Deer Harbour to St. Jones Outside (Without) with a total of 16 preaching places. Speaking of his first Christmas in Newfoundland, Rev. Lumsden wrote in his book The Skipper Parson :

“My first Christmas (1881) I spent in a little harbour called St. Jones. My out-of-the-worldness seemed complete when I made the discovery, while dining off salt fish and potatoes, that this was the great festival of the Christian world.”

The first Church in St. Jones Within, following some years when a school-chapel was used, opened in the early 1890`s – possibly 1893. This church was built close to the site of the new church we are dedicating today. It served the congregation until shortly after World War I.

Work on the old church, which we closed this morning, started in 1912. Plans were made to construct a church in 1911 but actual construction did not begin until the spring of 1912. The minister at the time was Rev. Louis G. Hudson. The war years intervened and the church was not opened until the spring of 1920. In July of 1919 Rev. Dorman E. Freake left the mission of Random South and Rev. Leslie W. Blundon from Indian Islands took his place. The first marriage recorded for this church took place between Bela Squires and Annie Brown. About a year after the church was opened the congregation purchased their first organ. According to local residents the first organist was Blanche Tucker.

Records kept during the construction of the church from 1912 to 1920 show some interesting details of the cost of materials. Each member paid the sum of 50 cents towards a new stove. In 1912 Rev. Louis Hudson purchased the new stove for the sum of $17.00. In 1914 the sum of $44.79 was paid to Saunders and Howell, Carbonear, for clapboard and matched lumber. On Dec. 15, 1912 a purchase of 8 pounds of nails was made for 40 cents or 5 cents a pound. Each family gave an average of $2.50 towards the cost of the windows. In 1916 James Avery was paid the sum of $47.00 for windows. In the same year the Ladies Aid passed over the sum of $70.00 to cover the cost of lumber. The school board contributed the sum of $6.00 for the new church in 1912.This was considered significant and was mentioned in a District Meeting in 1913.

It seems that the church was built totally with free labor and an accurate record of hours was kept. At a Methodist District meeting in June, 1913 the representative from St. Jones reported a total of 82 ½ days of free labor or 1912. Similar amounts were reports in 1914.

For many years after 1920, and even in recent years, with a road system linking the communities along the Arm, the minister could be counted on for a service only about once a month. For the remainder of the year devoted lay-readers provided the opportunity or worship. We think of the many years of faithful service given by men like William Robbins, William Butt, and Boyd King. We are very happy that Mr. King can be with us today to give the benediction at the closing service in the old church. In Sunday School work we think of the leadership given by Boyd King, Abigail Benson, Ida Brown, and others. For most of the sixty-one years in the old church the Benson’s (David and Albert) carried on the work of sexton. Albert Benson will ring the bell this morning for the last time in this church. There are many others whose loyalty to Jesus Christ and dedication to the work of His church have made possible the active and growing congregation who today will dedicate a new church to the Glory of God. Time and space will not permit us to name them all – but they are known to us and to God. For their witness and work we give God thanks.

Construction on the new church, being dedicated today, began in the spring of 1978. Practically all the labor has been given freely as well as numerous gifts of money and items large and small. Today we are able to dedicate this church and burn our mortgage at the same time. It is indeed a happy day in the life of this congregation. To all who helped to make it possible our many thanks. May God continue to bless us and guide in the days ahead.

“Six-score years have passed, a brief bright moment,
Time ever changing, then it is no more.
Hold fast the faith, it is your greatest blessing;
It is the part of life that will endure.”

These transcriptions may contain human errors. As always, confirm these as you would any other source material.