By Anna (Wilson) Banks
Coverdale United Church had its beginnings in the Wesleyan Societies founded by Rev. Wm. Black during missionary work in Albert and Westmorland Counties just after 1781. They met regularly as organized classes and were the key groups of early Methodism, believers glad to meet for prayer, praise and fellowship. At fist they met in each others' homes and as ordained ministers became available these men assisted Mr. Black.
In 1822, the Rev. Albert DeBrisay was appointed to the area and was later followed by the Rev. Wm. Murray who lived in Lewisville.
A small church was completed in 1828 in Coverdale, the only Methodist church between Dorchester and Saint John and a small structure 24 x 32 on the farm land owned by Wm Chapman, a nephew of Rev. Mr. Black. In the winter of 1828-1829 meetings were held in the 'new' Coverdale Church.
Mr. Chapman donated land for the parsonage near the church, during the ministry of the Rev. Samuel McMasters, and in 1839 a manse was erected on this property. In 1848 the Rev. Wm Tweedie was appointed minister for Coverdale. Following his ministry were the Revs. I.E. Thurlow, T.D. Hart, Elias Slackford, B.J. Johnson, J.J. Colter, R.M. Smith and A.B. Watters.
In Mr. Collier's time, plans for a larger church building were made. Trustees were Bamford Weldon, J.N. Chapman, Gilbert Chapman, Alfred Chapman, Stephen Weldon, John Trites, Wesley Geldart, Chambers Gaskin and Robert Colpitts. Cornelius R. Smith, John W. Smith - grandfather and father respectively of the late C.R. (Neil) Smith - and John Geldart had the building frame contract. John N. Chapman donated the logs for the project. This was the fist area church building to have a steeple.
Completed and dedicated on September 23, 1865, the building is the same today, except that the back was straight across.
The pulpit was the high 'box' style, there were doors on the pews and the choir loft was in the gallery.
Thomas Mitchell conducted the unaccompanied singing, with the aid of a pitch-pipe.
Ministers following this period were, from 1875, the Reverends Robert Wilson, James Crisp, W.N. Lodge, W.J. Howard, R.S. Crisp, J.K. King, C.H. Manaton, Isaac Howie, C.W. Hamilton, J.B. Champion, A.D. McCully, C.K. Hudson, J.B. Young, E.S. Weeks, M.S. Linton, F.W. Sawden, J.W. Hird, J.E. Davidge, John R. Scott, Lawrence Bone, J.M. Sheen, Thos. Simms, Chas. Swan, Geraldine Reed, Wm. Gibson and Robert Metcalf.
The first organ was used in the time of the Rev. James Crisp. Major renovations valued at $1,700 were undertaken during Mr. Manaton's period, and under a building committee consisting of Alonzo Smith, Havelock Mitton, and Stephen Weldon a choir alcove was built, sheathing replaced plaster, doors were removed from the pews, the gallery floor levelled, chandeliers were removed and hanging lamps installed. The organ was replaced, the floor coverings renewed and the interior generally refurbished. Mr. Blair Chapman was the secretary, John W. Smith the treasurer and J.W. Gaskin was auditor. Three services were held during the rededication in March 1904, in a building free of debt. Speakers were Rev. J.R. McConnell of Moncton Central Methodist Church, Dr. David Hutchinson of Moncton First Baptist, and Dr. Borden of Mount Allison Ladies' College.
Mrs. Emma (Smith) Hoeg and Stephen Trites presented a new Bible, Mrs. John Trites gave a new hymn book and offering plate were donated by Mrs. James Cummings and Mrs. W.J. Howard.
In 1925, with the Rev. J.. Young in charge, Coverdale Methodist Church became part of the United Church of Canada and was re-named Coverdale United Church. An endowment of $1,200 now provides for the upkeep of the adjoining cemetery. This fund was started by the late Job Gaskin of Boston (formerly of Coverdale) who offered to give $600 if the community would raise a similar amount. Several former residents including Bliss Trites, Walter Colpitts, Nelson Geldart and Albert Tries gave substantial amounts towards this fund.
The Military Roll of Honour for World War I has the following names inscribed: Ingram Dale Weldon, Cyrus Whitfield Gaskin, Ewart Bennett Gaskin, George S. Soper, Joseph Olly Adams, and Victor Alexander Adams. The first two paid the supreme sacrifice in France. Victor Adams was decorated with the Military Medal.
On the World War II Honour Roll the names are: George A. Bulmer, W. Howard Bulmer, Early W. Mitton, Douglas Geldart, Willis A. Wilson, John W. Smith, Willard L Crossman, Arabella Wiles, George A. Wilson, and Harris Mitton.
In 1939 further improvements were made, including electric lights, new window glass, fresh exterior paint and a complete interior re-decorating job, all this in the time of the Rev. J.W. Hird.
In 1959, an electric organ was installed and later on the heating system was changed over to oil, complete with a new chimney. Mr. and Mrs. B.J. Mitton donated a mirror for the choir loft and cupboards were built in the Sunday School room by Mr. Blair Smith who donated both materials and labour. A new roof was put on in 1964 and fresh exterior paint applied in 1971. A new Communion Table was presented by the family of Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Gaskin in 1963 and a baptismal font was donated by the family for the late Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Wilson.
The New Brunswick Centennial Commmittee place a plaque in recognition of the church building having occupied the premises for one hundred and two years. In 1971, a further plaque was offered in memory of four youths of the community, namely, Peter Mitton, Danny, Darrel and Winston Collier, who met death in a card accident. New offering plates were presented by the family of the late Isaac Selick of Moncton, in the memory of those find young men.
In 1974 the organ needed costly repairs, so it was replaced with anew one. The year 1975 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the United Church of Canada, and to mark this occasion Coverdale united held special join worship services.
On June 1, 1975 the congregations of Greater Moncton United churches held services in the Moncton High School.
Many family names are prominent through out the church records and the members of the parish are indebted to their forefathers in whatever capacity that they served, and to all the ministers of the Gospel who have toiled in order that Coverdale United Church might continue to serve the people of the Coverdale area. In March 1983 the church was declared a historic site by the Historic Sites Protection Act of the province of New Brunswick.
1983 also saw a new basement put in under the structure, slightly to the rear of its previous location. The old site had been technically on Turtle Creek Road and the New Brunswick Department of Highways offered a grant to defray the cost of moving the building to this new position nearer to the cemetery.
Geographically the church is within the boundaries of the town of Riverview and is a part of the Riverview Ministerial Association. The congregation is actively involved in the Albert County Christmas Aid Program.
At this time the minister is the Rev. Robert Metcalf of Toronto, Ontario, who chose the Maritimes and Riverview for his first church appointment.