By Rev. Basil Lowery
Riverview's Bethel Presbyterian Church had its beginnings when members of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Moncton, realized that a goodly number of its members were residents of the growing community of Riverview across the Petiticodiac River in Albert County.
The church session appointed two elders, Mr. Wm. Sinnis and Mr. John Henderson to make a survey, and the outcome of this work was that the Toronto Board of Missions be asked to appoint a full time ordained Missionary to the Riverview area.
The church board and the Rev. L.E. Blaikie invited the Rev. Robert D. Sanford of Scotstown, Milan and Lake Megantic, Quebec, to take over the new post. Mr. Sanford was to arrive on September 1, 1964, and a manse was provided at 613 Montgomery Street, and arrangements were made for temporary use of the West Riverview School auditorium for services.
The first services were held on Sunday, September 27, 1964 for the Sunday School, and regular services began on October 4, conducted by the Rev. L.E. Blaikie of St. Andrews and the new minister, Mr. Sanford.
A provisional board of managers was formed on October 6 with Mr. Earl Beaton as chairman, Mr. Fraser Hale as secretary, and Mr. William Sinnis as treasurer.
A welcoming service for the Rev. Mr. Sanford was held in the School on Friday, November 6, 1964 at which time the new congregation was named Bethel Presbyterian Church, West Riverview, New Brunswick.
A Bible Study group was formed on Monday, November 23, 1964 and was to meet in the homes of the congregation every second Monday.
Twenty-nine members were received into the church at morning worship Sunday, February 14, 1965 by Interim Moderator Rev. L.E. Blaikie and members of St. Andrews Church Session.
Sunday evening services began on February 28, 1965.
A Kirk Session was elected and ordained Sunday, March 14, 1965 composed of Mr. Wm. Sinnis, Mr. Earl Beaton, Mr. Donald Crouse, and Mr. Marshall Currie.
The sacrament of the Lord's Supper was first observed on Sunday, May 2, 1965. The first manse proved to be too small and a second building was secured at 113 Torwood Court. The Sanfords moved into this facility in July of 1966. Mr. Sanford had served the community for over two years when he and his family moved to the Presbyterian Church of Kensington, Prince Edward Island at the end of 1966. In the winter of 1966-67, the General Board of Missions appointed the Rev. Basil Lowery, then minister of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Montague, Prince Edward Island, to Riverview. The Lowerys and their three children, Phillip, Carol and Brenda arrived on May 1, 1967. The service of recognition was held in the Union Hall by the Saint John Presbytery, May 12, 1967.