St. George’s, Parish of Carleton and St. Jude’s, Parish of Victoria, are two of Saint John’s landmark churches.
St. George’s Church predates our first Bishop John Medley by half a century and is the product of the evangelical revival of the 18th century. The present structure, built in 1821, has a distinctive clock tower that presides over the deep west side and overlooks the busy harbour.
St. Jude’s was planted during the time of Bishop Medley and has its roots in the Anglo-Catholic renewal that swept through the Anglican Church in the 19th century. It dwells up the hill from St. George’s, next to Queens Square and overlooking the Digby ferry terminal.
St Jude’s Church
This brief Historical Sketch documenting the early years, struggles, challenges gives us a strong sense of our history.
The information here is a compilation of Newspaper articles as well as parishioner and clergy contributions…
The original structure of St. Jude’s Church was opened for divine service in April 1861 and consecrated by Archbishop John Medley on May 7, 1861. The first service was conducted by the Reverend John Armstrong—first Rector of the Parish.
The Daily The Record for July 10, 1895, has the following item on page 8: LAYING THE CORNER STONE—”The corner stone of St. Jude’s Church, Carleton, will be laid
tomorrow with Masonic ceremonies. The members of the Grand Lodge and the subordinate lodges are to assemble at the Masonic Hall at 2:30 and they will proceed to Carleton headed by the 62nd band. Grand Master Walker will conduct the ceremony at about 3:30 and speeches will follow. Rev. Mr. Barnes is rector of the church and he and others will make remarks. The Carleton band will all be present and it is expected that a large number will witness the ceremony. After the exercises the lades of the church will hold a strawberry tea on the church grounds”
The Daily Sun, Thursday Morning, July 11, 1895, edition on page 2 has the following article: JUDE’S CHURCH , CARLETON, Some 35 years ago, when shipbuilding and milling were prominent industries on the west side of the harbor it became evident to members of the Church of England on that side that it was desirable to divide the then parish of Carleton, and the parish of Victoria was set off, the dividing line being Rodney street. A handsome church called St. Jude’s was built at an expense of $5000 to $7000 with sittings for about 400 persons, and the Rev. John Armstrong, father of the late esteemed Rev. Geo. Armstrong, rector of St. Mark’s (Stone) Church, and of the late esteemed Rev. Win. Armstrong, rector of St. James’s Church, and grandfather of the Rev. W.B. Armstrong and Lieut. Col. JR. Armstrong of this city, was elected rector. On his decease the Rev. Maurice Swabey, who will be remembered by many, became rector, and during his incumbency a commodious school house was erected. After his resignation and return to England the parish continued with varying fortunes, under the care of the Rev. Messrs. Parnther, Crisp and Hudgell, the falling off of the industries above mentioned somewhat reducing the number of the congregation. On the morning of Sunday, Feb 5, 1893, during the rectorship of the Rev. Mr. Hudgell, the church, which was a well known and beautiful landmark, and particularly noticeable on entering the harbor, was destroyed by fire.
Excerpt from The Daily Telegraph, Monday February 6, 1893: ST. JUDE’S CHURCH BURNED The fire breaks out a short time before the morning service and within two hours is a smouldering mass of ruins. The school room, adjoining and other property near by, narrowly escape destruction. The Insurance St. Jude’s Episcopal Church, Carleton, was totally destroyed by fire yesterday [the loss is about $10,000.] The church is insured for $2,200 in the Liverpool, London & Globe company.
A short while before the morning service would have commenced the alarm was given, and inside of an hour nothing remained of the edifice but a heap of ruins. Mr. Arthur Coster, the organist of the church, who lives near by, went into the edifice about 10:30 o’ Clock to distribute the books for the use of the choir. He heard a particular hissing Gawking upwards saw a tongue of flame shoot from the ceiling in the southwest corner of the church. A hasty investigation made him aware that the entire vestry was in flames and running out he gave the alarm to neighbours and the fire bells were soon ringing. The firemen responded as quickly as possible but owing to the condition of the streets the engines and hose carts were a considerable time in getting to the scene of the fire.
THE NEW ST. JUDE’S Church was opened for Divine Service on Sunday, August 16, 1896. The preacher at the morning service was the Rev. John Medley Withycombe, B.A. Rector-elect.
NOV 1, 1896, All Saint’s Day, the second Bishop of Fredericton, The Right Reverend Hollingworth Tully Kingdon, D.D. consecrated the second St. Jude’s in the morning. That afternoon, the Rev. J.M. Withycombe was instituted and inducted as rector of the parish. In January 1898 the present bell was secured through S.L. Brittian the Senior Warden.
In the years that followed, while the building saw many changes; a refitted organ, the development of offices, linking the church building to the Hall, and a memorial window; the clergy and congregation have served God in the Community. Many served their country in the two World Wars. In addition, the Parish has a strong connection to the Scouting Movement as well as the Masons and the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.
In the early 1990’s, the church was raised and a basement was established. A sealed box was found in the cornerstone and when it was opened many interesting items were found; including English Coins and newspapers dated 1895. Most importantly, there is a notation of a blessing as follows: And now may the blessing of God Almighty, The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Rest upon this Church and on all who shall worship therein, and in this place may He give peace, for evermore. Signed this eleventh day of July A.D. 1895—W.H. Barnes, Rector
150th Anniversary of St. Jude’s Church
When Rob asked me to say a few words tonight…my mind immediately went back to my first reaction when I realized that St. Jude’s would be celebrating 150 years of worship in this Church…Wow I said…I am half the age of the Church plus one year, and I am still actively involved. I have so many fond memories of growing up in St. Jude’s, I could possibly talk half the day on that subject, but I’ll not. On 28th July, 1935 at the age of 3 months almost to the day, I was baptized by Rev. N.P. Fairweather here in St. Jude’s. This has been my Church all my life, although there were times that life’s journey interrupted my attendance. However, like my father and mother, my heart has always been here. It’s not just the building but the Church family and the commitment that took place for me at a very early age. In the early 1920’s my parents chose to build a home at 221 St. John Street, ..it would be an exaggeration to say a stone’s throw away, but it is approximately 600 meters across Queen Square to that home. Dad as a young man, living on a farm with his parents & 5 brothers, had bought land in Damascus, Kings County, N.B., and from that land he cut trees, took them to the sawmill, later picking up the lumber and by horse and wagon, he brought it to Saint John Street where he built a double tentament house. Guess he knew he was having a large family. There, they raised 2 boys and 8 girls who were all actively involved in the church life. My parents were happy to become worshippers at St. Jude’s Church where it was handy for the children to go off to church and Sunday school. They made sure that we were all baptized; went to Sunday School’ the girls joined JA and GA and the boys joined Cubs & Scouts; we were all confirmed; sand in the church choirs and most of us became Sunday School teachers. I am happy to say that I was George Connors Sunday school teacher when he was 9 years old…and Oh what a cutie!!!! As my sisters & I got older we joined the Ladies Guild, the Altar Guild and the WA. I loved sitting in the upstairs room learning to quilt and was fortunate enough at that time to have Heather Masson’s and Lynn Evan’s mother Leah there to teach me. Great memories!!!! There are so many memories it was hard to pick just one to share with you today.
My father was a devout Christian. He worked on the vestry and was a Warden at St. Jude’s for many years; I still have the gold watch presented to him in 1973 for his dedicated service. As children we would see him coming across Queen Square with his tool box and we would know he was going to the church to repair or fix something, and many times caught up to him to go along. We would help clean the church sometimes, and the floor in the church was covered with linoleum which had to be washed and waxed, we even knew all the mouse holes going down to the earthy basement below. Part of Dad’s tithing was also to give of his talents to the church in various ways. Five or six years ago as I sat here alone before a Wednesday mid-week communion service. A memory flashed back in my mind of Dad when he took each kneeling bench out and began cutting them in half. You can imagine to a child this would make quite an impression (and if I was here with Dad my sister Barbara was probably here too, as we didn’t travel too far from one another). As he shortened each bench he hinged it up under the pew in front with pieces of metal 1 inch wide x 2 1/2 inches long that he punched round holes in earlier in his workshop…I thought, it was right about here where I am sitting, so to my curiosity, I got down on my knees and yes those pieces of metal are still there today at about the 5th row on the left… still serving the purpose intended some 60 plus years ago. You can see they were very frugal in those days, no money to waste. Some of you may recall he was repairing the steeple and fell straight down on his hands & knees outside the front door breaking his ankle and both wrists. He got some well-deserved pampering then. My early teachings in St. Jude’s instilled in me a strong relationship with God that would last forever, (must have been the good Minister and Sunday school teachers we had, as I never forgot the message, that Jesus died for me and loves me unconditionally till the day I die.)
It’s sad in today’s world that church is not a big part of young people’s lives…We were fortunate in our young lives that church was part of our social life as well as our spiritual life. We brought friends to the church with us, and on Friday & Saturday evenings we played badminton in the hall, and if Rev. Ernie McCordick’s wife Nellie was there, we might even make a pan of fudge and couldn’t wait for it to harden. Those were the days!! Music has played a big role all through my life and I believe it all stemmed from my experiences here at St. Jude’s. At 7 years old I sang my first solo in church and still enjoy coming to choir with our fabulous director Mr. David Ripley. He keeps it all fresh, exciting & interesting to work on pieces of Music while still having fun. I’m sure it was here at St. Jude’s that I became a bit of a ham resulting from all the famous variety concerts here in the church hall. And believe it or not, when I see this small chair (holding up a very small old wooden child’s chair) I have a flash back of sitting in the primary Sunday school rooms, out where Rev. Rob’s office is now. St. Jude’s is a wonderful parish and we have been strong in our traditional services through the years. The people who come to worship here on Sundays are like family, even the ones we don’t see every Sunday from this parish, you still feel connected to each one of them when you meet them somewhere or in the mall shopping.
God has blessed us so that after 150 years we can still worship here with a new song, new faces but always with God’s love abounding under a new direction from Howard and Rob. May God continue to bless us and them here in in St. Jude’s, as we grow stronger in faith in this community.
Gloria (Fillmore) Jennings, October 2011.