By Ruth Williamson
On February 11, 1954 Baptist residents of Riverview met in the school auditorium to discuss establishing church building and to appoint officers. A committee, Mr. Arthur Prosser, Mr. George Debow and Mrs. Albert Trites, revealed a total of 57 Baptist families, which was 20% of Riverview's population at the time. the Committee also investigated land availability and prepared an excavating estimate and the probable cost of a basement.
On June 2, 1954 the organization meeting of the Riverview Heights United Baptist Church was held. The name was later changed to Riverview United Baptist Church in 1975.
The Rev. G.D. Brydon of Gunningsville United Baptist Church acted as chairman. The Rev. A.R. Pyke read the church Covenant and doctrinal Statement of the 1905 Basis of Union. The Rev. R.E. Whitney, Superintendent of the Home Mission Board welcomed the new church into the United Baptist Convention of the Atlantic Provinces. There were 29 charter members, the exact same number as in the case of the Riverview Bethel Presbyterian Church just ten years later.
At the end of 1954 the Mission Board bought land in a central Riverview location and on June 26, 1955 a service of consecration and dedication was held on the site, prior to excavation for the new basement. The Rev. K.M. Findley of the United Church conducted the service. Mr. MacWilliam served as Pastor for a short period while serving Uplands and Allison Churches.
In 1956 the church building had been erected but only the basement was suitable for holding services. Membership has now grown to 56. Much of the work was done by the members under the direction of Mr. Bertram Price and his helper Mr. M. Kunka.
Dedication services were held May 11, 1958. Mr. Duane Berry served as student minister in the winter of 1959/60. A call was extended to the Rev. W.S. Barker who accepted the invitation. His induction service was held September 14, 1960. The Harris property next to the church was bought as a parsonage in 1960 for $11,500.
The Middle Coverdale United Baptist Church expressed a desire to unite with the Riverview Church and 16 new members were added on February 12, 1961.
Sunday School and Explorers continued to hold meeting in Coverdale Hall, and in 1972 under the leadership of Mr. Ed Henderson, student assistant to David Garner, a Coffee House Ministry was carried on in that building.
However, in 1973 the New Brunswick Government expropriated that property for development of what is now Coverdale Square.
The piano and organ that had been used by the Coverdale Church, were donated to the Bethel Presbyterian Church. Expropriation proceeds were divided equally among Bethel Presbyterian, Coverdale United and the Riverview United Baptist Churches.
The Sunday School, now numbering over 200, needed more space. In 1962 it was decided to add a Christian Education Centre, and a sod turning ceremony was held October 11 with Mr. Frank Day officiating. Dedication of the Youth Centre was held February 10, 1963 and on behalf of the church, Mr. Herbert Connors accepted the keys from the contractor, Mr. Wm. Dutcher.
In October 1962 the church agreed to supply teachers from the Sunday School to service the needs of neighbours in the Pine Glen area. The deacons agreed to conduct evening services. Mr. Frank Day headed this work and Mrs. Moody Lewis taught in both the Coverdale Hall and Pine Glen Church.
Mr. Mel Otis (who is now a missionary in Bangladesh) assisted in the Pine Glen work, whilst a student in Atlantic Baptist College was doing visitations and holding services.
A bus and driver were engaged to bring Pine Glen people to church and Sunday School and from the West Riverview area as well. Still later a taxi was used and then a small van. In 1976, the present van was bought to provide week day group service for Senior Citizens and for Baptist College students on Sundays. The van was also used for outings and excursions by all church groups.