By Rev. Basil Lowery
Mr. James Toombs, the architect for St. Mark's new church in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, agreed to adapt those plans as a basis for a new church to be built on the Riverview site. On October 26, 1969 the first sod was turned by the oldest charter member Mrs. Nelson Lorimer. The building committee chairman was Mr. Ed Prentice, who now resides in Peterborough, Ontario.
Modern Enterprises Ltd., of Moncton made the church ready to use in the later winter of 1969 and the first services were held on Easter Sunday morning March 29, 1970.
The cornerstone was laid May 31, 1970 and the building dedicated by Saint John Presbytery on June 4 of the same year.
Financing was provided by members and friends of Bethel Church and other Presbyterian churches in the area: The Presbyterian Church Lending fund, the Annie Thompson Bingham Memorial Fund, the Beaverbrook Foundation, and the Bank of Montreal. The congregation owes a debt of gratitude to the Rev. T.J. Watson (former minister of St. Andrews Church Fredericton, a personal friend of Lord Beaverbrook) and Beaverbrook's son Sir Max Aiken. Dr. and Mrs. Watson lived in Riverview for most of the retirement years and were faithful members of Bethel Church.
Mr. Alan Watt of Watt Construction stated that, considering the cramped conditions now existing at the church, an expansion to the sanctuary could be accomplished at the same time as a Christian Education Centre was expanded. The Planning Committee, later to become the Building Committee, composed of Mr. Horace Dimock and Mr. Lloyd Colpitts as co-chairman, adopted the recommendations and the sod for the new extension was turned by Mrs. Mary Watson, the widow of Dr. T.J. Watson, on July 12, 1981. Construction began at once. Summer services were held in the St. Paul's United Church building in order that the new church could be made ready for September. Much interior work was done by the members and on February 3, 1982 the new facility was dedicated by the Saint John Presbytery.
Financing for the second building was provided by the Presbyterian Church Lending Fund, The Annie Thompson Bingham Memorial Fund, the Bank of Montreal and the Royal Bank of Canada, in addition to money provided by generous offerings of the congregation.
Bethel Church sits on one of the most desirable locations in Riverview on the Coverdale Road. It is clearly visible from the causeway linking Riverview with Moncton and commands an excellent view of the city of Moncton and the 'mountains' to the north.
It is beautifully landscaped, thanks to the efforts of many congregation members, and to Rick Eagles, owner of Rick's Flower and Garden Centre, our nearest "neighbour" who has planted a number of trees, shrubs, and a rock garden area on the upper limits of the property. The church is a short walk from a Senior Citizen's apartment complex and a nursing home, and many people take advantage of our nearness to worship there.
With the achievement of self support at the beginning of the 80s, the congregation sent a call to the Rev. Basil Lowery (who had been an ordained Missionary for 16 1/2 years). He accepted the call and his Induction Service was held December 7, 1983. Thus Bethel entered its third decade, and with its own inducted minister.
Bethel Church with its excellent facilities is now in its 20th year of ministry and service to Riverview.