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- United Church of Canada. Corner Brook, First United Pastoral Charge.
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The First United Church congregation at Corner Brook was formed 15 March 1925 under the ministry of the Bay of Islands Methodist Mission. The congregation was composed of Presbyterian and Methodist families. This date not only constituted the forming of the congregation but the opening of the new Church Hall for church services and functions.
The roots of Corner Brook's Presbyterian congregation can be traced to Bay of Islands in 1877, when Rev. David Creelman and others organized a congregation in Petries. This group received church membership from the Sheet Harbour Presbyterain congregation in Nova Scotia through the connections of Christopher Fischer, who had come to Corner Brook from Sheet Harbour in 1871 to run a sawmill at Humber Arm. The congregation established the first Presbyterian Sunday school in Petries (located in the west end of Curling) in the early 1870s. In the early 1890s, Presbyterian families held services in a school house until a church was built on the corner of Park Street in 1898. This was the first church erected in the original settlement of Corner Brook. Catechists to the church were supplied from Halifax and supervised by the minister of the Grand Falls Presbyterian Church. Appointments included Nicholsville, Corner Brook, Petries, and Mount Moriah.
By 1907, Methodist families had begun to attend services at the Presbyterian church, and by 1914, Methodists were being asked for co-operation in arranging services. In 1919, Rev. William J. Morris, pastor of the Methodist church at Curling, started holding services there; The increased demands on the church facilities in the Corner Brook area eventually led to the formation of new congregations and pastoral charges in Humbermouth and Corner Brook. The construction of the Corner Brook Paper Mill began in 1923 and resulted in an influx of hundreds of people into the area. The increased demands on the church facilities necessitated the construction of the Church Hall, which opened in 1925.
The next year, the congregation became a self-supporting entity as the First United Pastoral Charge of the United Church of Canada, Newfoundland Conference, Grand Fall's Presbytery. However, the Church Union was not totally successful in the Corner Brook area. A separate Presbyterian congregation continued there; by 1955, it was known as the St. Paul's Presbyterian Congregation.
The United Church congregation built a new manse in Corner Brook in 1927. The ever-increasing population placed greater strains on the Church Hall, and in 1936, under the tenure of Rev. G. L. Mercer, the idea for a new church was conceived. Fund-raising began, and in 1946, the First United Church was dedicated.
Rev. George L. Mercer was appointed to the charge in 1929 and quickly brought its organization into line with the Session/Stewards/Official Board structure outlined in the United Church Manual.
The congregation continued to grow in Corner Brook West, and by 1956, a church expansion programme was initiated. The First United Hall on Park Street was opened in 1958, and the Oakland House Sunday School-Church Hall was opened in the Country Road area in 1958. (Oakland later became a separate pastoral charge.) By 1959, a second manse on Park Street had also been purchased and was in operation.
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