By Ruth Monteith and Audrey Coleman
The first "United" service in Riverview was held on November 6, 1949, in the Knights of Pythias Hall on the Pine Glen Road with the Rev. Norman Estey, chairman for the United Church of Canada, Moncton Presbytery, as the preacher, and 25 persons in the congregation.
The original settled minister was the Rev. K.M. Findley whose first service took pace on May 18, 1950, held in the basement of the first Riverview School, the forerunner of the present Riverview Junior High.
On December 10, 1950 the Riverview united Church was constituted by the Rev. W.S. Godfrey, president of the Maritme United Church Conference, with 42 members. On March 15, 1953 the congregations moved to the second Riverview School auditorium. The late Mrs. M. (Gwen) Biggs was the pianist on both KP and school locations.
March 19, 1951 saw the Board of Trustees named as the official Building Committee, was Gorley Brown acting a chairman, Helen Renouf, Secretary, and M. Biggs, H. Mitton, F. Murray and L.B. Fencwick as members.
November 1953 was the year that a church extension appeal was launched, wit the late Claude D. Taylor as chairman. One hundred and five families formed the congregation, and there were 121 in the Sunday School and 11 ladies in the Women's Group. Architect John Darby presented building plans to the congregation in September 1954 which were approved. Sod turning took place September 23, 1954, the Rev. J.R. Scott officiating, as chairman of the Moncton Presbytery. The builder was Byron Dobson and the cornerstone was laid by the church minister, the Rev. K.M. Findley.
A copper box inside the stone contains the following documents: Sunday School, placed by Sunday School Superintendent Frank L. Bowser; Women's Association, placed by Association present Helen Renouf; Women's Missionary Society, placed by Roberta Green; Choir, placed by Choir president William Lockhart; complete list of church members; a copy of the Hymnary; a history of the church, ground-breaking ceremony program, cornerstone laying documents; architects' church sketch, these items placed by Session clerk K.D. Clifford; and the latest postage stamp and currency issue, placed by Steward Chairman J. Taylor. Also, a list of church officers, January 13 issue of the United Churchman, January 15 issue of the United Church Observer, January 17 issue of Time magazine, January 19 issue of St. Paul's Weekly Bulletin, January 22 issue of the Moncton Transcript, 1955 Missionary Education Calendar, Statistical Summary Statement, the United Church Manual, all placed by Board Secretary Alistair Weldon. And a copy of the King James Holy Bible, and a coy of the Book of Common Prayer, placed by the Minister, the Rev. K.M. Findley.
The late Very Rev. C.M. Nicholson (Principal of Pine Hill Divinity Hall) was special speaker at the dedication service held in the new Riverview United Church at 11 a.m. on Palm Sunday, April 3, 1955. Dedication of church furnishings occurred at 3:30 p.m. the same day, with the Minister of St. John's United Church, Moncton, the Rev. Dr. F.E. Archibald, officiating. Dr. Nicholson also spoke at the 7 p.m. service. On each evening of the following week special dedication services were held, with a different speaker on each occasion.
Seating capacity was 193, with provision made for expansion to accommodate 300 total. The premises included a choir room, Minister's study and nursery. In 1956 there were 127 active families on the register, 221 children in Sunday School and a membership of 33 in the Women's Group.
Laurie Hunter was appointed to chair a building committee leading to the construction of a Christian Education Centre, this in 1961.
On February 1, 1964 the congregation authorized the Building Committee to engage an architect who would offer plans for a new building. Keith Pickard as the approved designer was asked to submit plans and specifications for the nave extension and education Centre. This was to commence in May 1965.