Yarmouth Wesleyan Church

Yarmouth Wesleyan Church

Changing Hearts & Community Through Christ

Wesleyan Church History

The Atlantic District of The Wesleyan Church was previously known as The Alliance of the Reformed Baptist Church of Canada. Our roots go back to the Free Christian Baptist Church, and part of our history in Yarmouth County is recorded in an old Pulpit Bible that was saved when the Free Baptist Church of Beaver River burned February 20, 1879. The Reformed Baptist Churches of Brazil Lake, Port Maitland, and Sandford were organized in 1889, but this historic Bible was given to the Cedar Lake Church when it was built in 1912. It remained there until 1934, when it was removed by Rev. P. J. Trafton, George Porter and Warren Sollows. It was later presented to the Crosby Memorial Chapel by Mr. Fred Sollows.

The Chapel was on the campus of Bethany Bible College, Beacon Street, Yarmouth, established in 1947 when the former Holiness Bible Institute was relocated from Woodstock, N. B. It was built in 1948, dedicated February 2, 1949, and became the center for Reformed Baptist (now Wesleyan) Church work in the town of Yarmouth. Prior to a local church being organized, the preaching was done by faculty members of the College.

The Yarmouth Reformed Baptist Church was first organized under the leadership of Rev. A. D. Cann, a resident of Yarmouth County, on November 26, 1950. Being a College Church and Chapel, hundreds of young men and women who worshipped there have gone into some kind of Christian service.

Bethany Bible College was moved to Sussex, N. B. in June 1965. The land was sold, and most of the buildings moved or demolished to make way for the Beacon United Church. The Chapel and contents, however, were not sold. Some who pastored during that 15 year period were: F. A. Watson, N. E. Trafton, L. K. Mullen, W.E. Green, and B. M. Hicks, most of whom were associated with the College.

Following the move, the Yarmouth Church, with only two resident members left, now came under the auspices of the Home Mission Board. Rev. and Mrs. Karl Gorman, recently returned from South Africa, were asked to reopen the Chapel and establish a permanent work. Services were held there until Easter Sunday, April 10, 1966 when it became necessary to move or tear down the old building. All of the equipment was moved to a rented hall at 468 Main Street, where services were conducted for 2 1/2 years while funds were collected and plans made to build a proper church. The hall was upstairs, diagonally across from the jail, in the old Sweeny's Funeral Home, where the caskets used to be displayed. It is remembered by some as "The Upper Room". One teenager who joined the church there in 1966 was Florence Manning, who later served as Church Secretary for 27 years. In 1967 a baby girl (Cora Gorman) was dedicated to the Lord in that Upper Room, and she has since served the Lord and The Wesleyan Church in Australia, Indonesia, Zambia, and Suriname.

In July 1966 the Reformed Baptist Alliance voted to unite with the Wesleyan Methodist Church of America, which already had a Merger Agreement with the Pilgrim Holiness Church. Subsequently, on June 26, 1968, in the city of Anderson, Indiana, The Wesleyan Church was officially formed. In the meantime, back in Yarmouth, land had been purchased on Brunswick Street and construction began on the FIRST Wesleyan Church in North America (June 27, 1968). The builder was Mr. Andrew Porter.

It was Thanksgiving Sunday, October 13, 1968, that the first services were held downstairs, and Sunday School classrooms utilized. Dedication Services were on November 24, 1968, but it was a year before the congregation could move upstairs and use the new sanctuary and nursery. That area later became the Fellowship Hall, kitchen and offices.

The church experienced remarkable growth. In 1985 it became evident that larger facilities would be needed. The adjoining property was purchased in 1986 to provide room for a new building that would seat 350 and give extra classrooms. The sod-turning ceremony was in September 1987, and the project completed in 1988 with a great Dedication service on May 15. The church broke the 200 barrier in 1990, and the 300 barrier in 1992, making a second morning service necessary. By 1995 the attendance had reached 350 and a third pastor was added to the staff. In 1996 the 400 mark was passed, and a third service, Saturday evening, was added. Total attendance soon reached 500+, making it necessary to consider another building on a larger site. Thirty-two acres of land were purchased at the former Lawndale Dairy property in December 1996.  Ground-breaking for this multi-purpose facility was on July 12, 1998, and construction began soon after. The fourth dedication of a House of Worship in 50 years was held on October 10, 1999 with the Atlantic District Superintendent, Dr. H. C. Wilson as Special Speaker.

We are grateful for all our Pastoral families over the years and for the prayers, sacrificial giving, hard work and commitment to the cause of Christ of a host of men and women working together for the salvation of souls and the glory of God.

Rev. Karl Gorman