Covenanter church remembered in recent donation

Joan LeBlanc
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An elder of the Jolicure United Church, Mrs. Emily Dixon, at left, accepts a framed drawing of the former Jolicure Covenanter Church, presented by retired long-time minister Eldon Hay during a church service on Sunday. The original Covenanter Church was constructed in 1833 and used for about 50 years for regular worship. By 1943 it was no longer in existence. PHOTO CONTRIBUTED.

JOLICURE, NB – One of the regions’ earliest churches in the Tantramar region was remembered and honoured recently.

At a church service on Sunday, April 27, a drawing of the old Jolicure Covenanter Church which had been created by Lori Bell Hawkins, was donated to the Jolicure United Church. During the service, retired United Church minister Eldon Hay made the presentation, which was accepted on behalf of the congregation by long-time church elder/organist Emily Dixon.

Hay said on the weekend that the photo had been commissioned some years ago, but only recently was it properly framed for hanging.

“When I was writing my book on the Covenanter churches I had asked Lori to do this drawing for me and over the years have kept it in my office. But recently I realized that the proper place for it was in the present Jolicure United Church,” he said recently.

Hay had been a part-time minister for the Jolicure congregation for many years, retiring about 18 months ago.

During the church service Hay gave a presentation on the history of the early Covenanter Church, which was constructed in 1833 and used as a local place of worship for Covenanter congregations until the mid 1850s. The building stood vacant for many years and by 1943 was no longer in existence.

“During the service I talk about the history of the Old Presbyterian Cemetery in Jolicure, which was established around 1833. At that time there were Mi’kmaq in the area and some Acadians as well as the Anglophone people, and before the church was built that same year there were people buried there. Not unusual, particularly in this part of the world, for people to use a corner of their land to bury their loved ones. It must have belonged to the Copp family because they later gave the land and the church was built there,” he said.

The Jolicure Covenanter Church was built under the auspices of Rev. Alexander Clarke, who travelled throughout the Tantramar area from Amherst to minister to devoted Covenanters.

“It was built by the people of the locality, chiefly by two families; the Brownwell and Copp families. It was never a very big congregation; in fact it was always very small,” Hay explained.

He noted a description of the early church which had been given to him in a letter written by the late Mrs. Lena Copp Jones.

“Near our farm was an old, unused Presbyterian Church that served as a good place for we children to play ‘church’. It had pews made of wide, hand-hewn boards painted gray, as was the floor. There were doors on the pews that had latches on them, possibly to keep toddlers in. At the far back there was a dais on which was a small pulpit; there was a wooden bench against the back wall…” he said.

Hay also spoke about the Old Jolicure Cemetery, which church members are currently working to have refurbished, lauding the work of various local residents who have worked over the past 40 years to keep the cemetery in good shape.

The drawing of the old original church now hangs in the current Jolicure United Church, where, Hay believes, is the appropriate place for it.

“The Covenanter Church and the people who worshipped in it, played important roles in the establishment of this community those many years ago and it’s important for people who worship here today to be able to see this picture of it,” he said.


Organizations: Jolicure United Church, Jolicure Covenanter Church, Presbyterian Church

Geographic location: Tantramar, Amherst

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