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United Church of Canada. Blackhead-Western Bay Pastoral Charge
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Methodism was introduced to Blackhead during the ministry of Rev. Lawrence Coughlan. Coughlan served in Newfoundland from 1766 to 1773 as a missionary for the Society for the Preservation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Although he remained within the Church of England structure, he was a "Church Methodist," a follower of John Wesley. During his tenure, in 1769, the first Methodist Church in Newfoundland was built at Blackhead. Methodism made steady progress in the area, for when William Black, "the apostle of Methodism in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia," and John McGreary, a Methodist missionary, visited Blackhead in 1791, they found 40 persons enrolled in Methodist classes. By 1850, the circuit report for Blackhead disclosed three chapels, six other preaching places, one missionary, one local preacher, 310 church members, 109 Sunday school scholars, 150 day school scholars, and 1900 in attendance in public worship.
Before 1815, however, there was no Methodist circuit structure in Newfoundland and all missionaries were appointed by the Wesleyan Conference in England to the broader Newfoundland District. Rev. John Remington, appointed in 1804, chose Carbonear as his headquarters and appears to have taken the Blackhead-Western Bay area under his stewardship, for early Carbonear Methodist parish registers (1794-) contain entries from the region.
From 1815, preachers were appointed to specific circuits in Newfoundland. In 1816, Blackhead became a circuit in the Foreign Missionary Society of the Wesleyan Methodists and received two ministers, Rev. Thomas Hickson (the first minister to record in the circuit registers) and Rev. John Walsh. The circuit included communities Small Point, Broad Cove, Mulley's Cove, Blackhead, Adam's Cove, Western Bay, Bradley's Cove, Ochre Pit Cove, Northern Bay, and Long Beach. In 1817, Western Bay became a separate circuit, with Rev. John Pickavant the first to record in the circuit registers. The two circuits were reunited the following year, although temporary separations re-occurred over the next six decades. In 1835, Lower Island Cove was added to the station sheet with Blackhead and Western Bay.
In 1811, churches were built at Western Bay and Ochre Pit Cove. The first mission house was constructed at Blackhead during the period 1812-1815 and was opened in 1815. It was replaced in 1841 during the ministry of Rev. Ingham Sutcliffe. In 1863, construction of the third church at Blackhead began, and it opened in 1871. Known as the "old Blackhead Church," it was taken down in 1931, and the present church was constructed to serve congregations in Adam's Cove, Blackhead, and Broad Cove North. A new parsonage was built in Blackhead in 1918 during the ministry of Rev E. C. French, and the latest manse was constructed in 1962.
At Broad Cove, a church was constructed in 1910 to serve congregations in Small Point, Mulley's Cove and Broad Cove. It was destroyed by fire in 1937. In 1939, the basement of the new church was opened for worship by Rev. J. L. Reynolds. The new church was formally dedicated in 1941.
Early education at Blackhead had been conducted by the resident minister until the first school was built in 1821. By 1830, there were schools in Adam's Cove and Broad Cove as well. In 1910, new identical church/halls were built at Blackhead and Adam's Cove and consisted of two classrooms on the first floor and a hall for Sunday school on the second floor. A new school, Salem School, was built at Broad Cove in 1863, and was replaced by a two room school in 1944. In 1926, an elementary school was built at Small Point. In 1973, a new Central High and Elementary School was opened at Western Bay to service the whole area.
Western Bay, which had occasionally functioned as a separate circuit from Blackhead since 1817, was established as a separate circuit in 1877 under the charge of Rev. R. W. Freeman. The circuit consisted of congregations in Western Bay, Bradley's Cove, Ochre Pit Cove, and Long Beach. A parsonage was opened in Western Bay in 1878, and construction of a Church at Ochre Pit Cove was also begun during Freeman's tenure. Rev. W. H. Browning became minister of the circuit in 1906-1910, and a new church was completed in Western Bay during his ministry.
In 1925, the circuits of Blackhead and Western Bay, Carbonear District of the Newfoundland Conference, Methodist Church (Canada, Newfoundland, and Bermuda), became pastoral charges in the Carbonear Presbytery of the Newfoundland Conference of the United Church of Canada. The pastoral charges were re-united in 1967 to form the Blackhead-Western Bay Pastoral Charge.
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Created - May 11, 2013
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