United Roots

Ochre Pit Cove Methodist Church. Built in the 1880's. Photo taken 1919.

Ochre Pit Cove Methodist Church. Built in the 1880's. Photo taken 1919.

Ochre Pit Cove United Church, built in 1938. Photo taken in 1967. Note the original bell tower was removed at some point and replaced with a peaked roof. 

Ochre Pit Cove United Church, built in 1938. Photo taken in 1967. Note the original bell tower was removed at some point and replaced with a peaked roof. 

Methodism arrived in Newfoundland in the form of Reverend Lawrence Coughlan, an Evangelical Anglican who came to Harbour Grace in 1766. With its small meeting structure, passionate revivalism and belief in personal salvation, the mission spoke strongly to impoverished fishermen and their families, who lived, essentially, in indentured servitude to the fish merchants. The sobriety and sense of community that accompanied conversion brought a new found pride to its adherents, much to the chagrin of the merchants who eyed any sort of self organization by the fishermen with suspicion. Regular meeting attendance, refraining from drinking, cards or dancing was required and many of the ruling class found themselves under censure by the Reverend for non-compliance. 

Coughlan was instrumental in the construction of a Methodist Church in Blackhead, Conception Bay in 1769, the first of its kind anywhere in Newfoundland or Canada. He returned to England in 1793, driven out after he refused to sanction a prominent merchant as a godfather on moral grounds. Still, the teaching continued to spread slowly, eventually developing a substantial presence in Conception Bay, Bonavista and St. John's. The first Methodist Church in Ochre Pit Cove was raised 1811, with another built in the 1880’s. 

In 1925 the Methodists in Canada joined with the Congregationalists and most of the Presbyterians to form the United Church of Canada. Newfoundland, although not a part of Canada at the time, joined them as well. Our building in Ochre Pit Cove was built in 1938. Over the years, the United Church veered away from the austere precepts of its evangelical predecessors, and has become known for its progressive and inclusive philosophy. I think they'd be okay with the odd game of cards, a glass good cheer and a bit of dancing - well, maybe a lot of dancing - that might happen at Ochre House today. 

Sources: 
http://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/society/methodist.php
http://www.mun.ca/rels/meth/texts/origins.html

Photos: Robert Halfyard
http://ngb.chebucto.org/Dist_Photo/bdv-0306-ochre-pit-cv-church.shtm
http://www.panoramio.com/user/6299142


 

 

Why Be Here?

Hospitality marketing often talks about escaping or getting away from it all. Maybe we crave adventure, novelty and excitement or maybe we're just looking to relax and leave our worries behind. I wonder, though, if we really need to escape our lives, or if that's even possible. We carry our bodies with us wherever we go. We carry our thoughts and habits, our joys and sorrows. They are what make us tangly, complicated creatures. Life is a messy affair.  Honestly, I believe we can make adventure in our own backyard if we want to. Every moment is inherently new, even if it doesn't always feel that way. Every time we breathe, we change. You don't need to come to here to do that. I'm a terrible marketer. 

If you do come, I hope you come not to escape, but just to be where you are. Take your messy self with you. Be open to your joys and patient with your sorrows. There's room enough for all of it. Welcome to Ochre House. Be here.