The History of Memorial United Church
* In 1810, Rev. William Ward was given a grant of £11 by the Missionary Society and sent by the English Conference to build Bonavista’s first Methodist church. Sadly, Ward drowned before the church could be completed. It was finished in 1814 under the leadership of Rev. William Ellis. This building served the congregation for 35 years.
* In 1851, a second church was built but was destroyed in 1870 during a severe storm.
* This initiated the building of a third church in 1871 under the leadership of Rev. John S. Phinney. This building could seat 800 people; however, with time the population grew and a larger building was needed, so the church was taken down in 1918, and the same year construction began on the current structure under the leadership of Rev. Charles Lench. A special ceremony was held for the laying of the cornerstone on October 31st of that year. The building was dedicated on 28th January, 1923. Two years later, upon church union, the Methodist church became part of The United Church of Canada.
* This church is built in what is known as "Classic Revival" style, which was popular in North America between 1820 and 1860. Even after this period it continued to be popular for large buildings. This style is most often associated with stability, propriety, and dignity. The building is 124 feet by 65 feet and holds 292 pews. It has an open scissor-brace rafter system, a timber balloon frame, and a combination stone-concrete foundation. The church was designed by architect Charles H. Lench, M.Arch. (Harvard).
Points of Interest All Souls (the Anglican Mortuary Chapel), the Courthouse, the Loyal Orange Hall and the Roman Catholic Rectory, now a private residence.
* The Master Builder of the church was Ronald Strathie, who also built other structures in Bonavista, including the Alexander Chapel of
* A pipe organ was first installed around 1817. This was replaced in the 1970's by a Baldwin 3-manual electronic organ, which in turn was replaced in May, 2002 by an electronic Rodgers Trillium 787, one of the finest models in Canada. Some of the original pipes have remained in place as a backdrop to the Choir Loft.
* The tower clock was purchased from the Howard Clock Company in New York and was installed by Mr. Strathie. It continues to work well.
* The church towers have long been a landmark for local fishermen returning to port.
* The church seats 1375 people. A photograph taken during the burning of the mortgage service shows how the building looks when filled to capacity. The photograph is in the church porch, to your left as you enter. Currently, the church is only filled to capacity when used for occasions of a special nature, such as ecumenical services, high school graduation ceremonies, and special performances such as Handel’s "Messiah" given by the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra and its Philharmonic Choir, an event held during the Christmas Season of 1996 and attended by people from all over the peninsula. They returned for a second performance in 2008.
* Memorial United is one of the largest wooden churches in Canada.
* The cornerstone contains a box filled with contemporary copies of newspapers, the "Methodist Monthly Greeting," circulating coins, and a list of the officials attending the ceremony.
* It is said that the oddly shaped boxes in Memorial Hall at the back of the church contain the bones of those disinterred during construction of the church!
* The wooden arch above the pulpit was the work of Ralph Strathie, son of the Master Builder, and remains a challenge when time to repaint the lettering.
* The fine stained glass window in the facade was donated by the Swyers Family in memory of those who lost their lives in war; it portrays Christ as the Good Shepherd, and incorporates symbols appropriate to The United Church of Canada.
* The church has a thriving Sunday School, active adult groups - United Church Women and Men’s Fellowship Group - as well as a Junior and Senior Choir, Mime Group, and Messenger Group. Weekly Prayer Services are held Fall through Spring, as are Sunday evening "After Services" following the regular evening worship.
Memorial United Church is dedicated to the memory of the following who made the supreme sacrifice during World War I:
Max Abbott Alexander Reader
G. Max Clarke John Reader
George L. Cuff Fred C. Roper
Harold Cuff Harry Strathie
Ernest Harris Donald Templeman
James H. Little Norman Waye
Their names are engraved below the pulpit. There is also a plaque dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives during later conflicts.
The following is a list of the Ministers who have served this Church since 1916:
1916 - 1923..Rev. Charles Lench
1923 - 1926..Rev. C.R. Blount
1926 - 1934..Rev. S. Bennett
1934 - 1940..Rev. S.I. Murley
1940 - 1947..Rev. J.W. Winsor
1947 - 1951..Rev. Dr. Arthur S. Butt
1951 - 1953..Rev. Thomas R. Mills
1953 - 1957..Rev. William E. Stanford
1957 - 1961..Rev. Frederick W. Bradbury
1961 - 1962..Rev. Calvin Evans
1962 - 1965..Rev. Melvin Ralph
1965 - 1966..Rev. W. R. Bowering
1966 - 1968..Rev. Clarence Stanford
1968 - 1973..Rev. Ambrose E. Newbury
1973 - 1978..Rev. Harvey H. Harris
1978 - 1985..Rev. A. James Hoddinott
1985 - 1986..Rev. Dr. Arthur S. Butt
1986 - 1989..Rev. Ernest Feltham
1989 - 1990..Rev. Albert Trask
1990 - 1992..Rev. Douglas Best
1992 - 1993..Rev. W.R. Bowering
1993 - 1994..Rev. Fred Hickman
1994 - 1995..Rev. Cecil Tiller
1995 - 1996..Rev. Ernest Parsons
1996 - 2004..Elsie E. Pottle, L.P.M.
2004 - 2008..Rev. Tony L. Cole
2008 - 2009..Ben Snook, B.A.(Ed), D.L.M.
2009.............Rev. Amanda Barnes B.A.,M.Div.