Keswick Ridge United Church

Bible, with torn pages, from Keswick Ridge United Church in New Brunswick.
Bible, Keswick Ridge United Church | NB
  • Nomination: Keswick Ridge United Church | NB
  • Category: Place
  • Nominated By: Jack Walsworth, Clerk of Session, Keswick Ridge United Church
  • Year Nominated: 2018/2019

The Keswick Ridge United Church can trace its roots back to the descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims and early Puritans, many of them Loyalists, who originated from Massachusetts and neighbouring colonies during the years 1762 -1784. These early people established settlements along the Saint John River at the present-day communities called Sheffield and Maugerville, New Brunswick. In 1763 they established a Congregational Church in Sheffield. About 1802, some families of these early settlers decided to relocate about thirty kilometers from Sheffield and Maugerville, upstream along the Saint John River, to a higher elevation and where land was fertile: the Keswick Ridge area. They established a “Congregational Society of Keswick Ridge”, which conducted worship services and prayed to the glory of God in the homes of the society members for almost a quarter of a century. A bible was presented to the Congregational Society of Keswick Ridge on October 17, 1822 by the Bible Association of Fredericton, New Brunswick. On August 26, 1826, The Rev. Archibald McCallum presented Articles of Faith and a Covenant from the parent Congregational Church (in Sheffield, NB) to the faithful on Keswick Ridge. Thus was the Keswick Ridge Congregational Church established in 1826. This congregation was the second established Congregational Church within the province of New Brunswick (N.B.), second only to that in Sheffield. Immediately, the settlers in Keswick Ridge went to work planning a building for worship services and to support community activities. It was built on donated land from one of the early families and was located directly across the road (i.e. N.B. Route 616) from the present day church building.

The Congregational Church grew throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In 1846 a Union of Congregational Churches was formed. Churches were from the Canadian Maritime Provinces as well as from Quebec, Ontario, New England and Great Britain. The Church on the Keswick Ridge was one member of this union. Delegates from each member-church attended annual Union meetings. The Congregational Church of Keswick Ridge hosted a number of such Union meetings over the years. Consequently, the Church on Keswick Ridge served an active role in the spiritual and historical development of the Congregational Church within the Maritime Provinces.

Keswick Ridge United Church during the winter thaw.

The congregation at Keswick Ridge continued to grow over the fifty years following its establishment in 1826. It was active within the region. In 1875-1876, the congregation built a 300-seat facility to accommodate the growing number of local worshipers and to host meetings of the Union Congregational Churches. The new place of worship was built by Mr. Henry Estey, across the road (N.B. Route 616), and is situated at the present-day location of the church building. A new parsonage was also built in 1876 on the property next to the new, church building. The new (and present-day) church building features a white building with a tall, white spire that dominates the head of the Ridge and may be seen for miles around. The new church building was dedicated on January 28, 1877 by The Rev. Joseph Barker of Sheffield. A picture of the new, magnificent building (c. 1900’s) can be seen in Ref. 1 of Section 3 of this Application; adjacent is a picture showing the present-day church.

The Congregational Church of Keswick Ridge fostered and developed several people in the ministry of our Lord, Jesus Christ. They represent collectively a strong spiritual significance within The United Church of Canada. In particular, we wish to highlight The Rev. Dr. Arthur B. B. Moore, who in 1971 was elected as Moderator in the United Church of Canada. While there were many devoted and exemplary people who ministered to the community on Keswick Ridge over our 190+ year history, the Church is especially proud of our native son Arthur Moore who, as Moderator, held a position of historical significance in the United Church of Canada.

Group of people at Keswick Ridge United Church.

We would like to highlight that this site, The Keswick Ridge United Church, hosted a significant and meaningful event in September 2016 on the ridge: One hundred and ninety (190) years of continuous worship to God and service to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Under the leadership of the Sunday School Superintendent, Mrs. Susan Fearon, the children and youth of the Sunday School together with other members of the congregation presented a well received, historical enactment of the life and development of the Church on Keswick Ridge. A special Service of Worship was celebrated and led by The Rev. A. David Luker. The church sanctuary was filled to capacity with many from the community attending. A special outreach ministry was also established to commemorate 190 years in ministry and service of the Church to the community.

The complete, detailed, 36-page Nomination document may be obtained upon request from the Office of the General Archivist of the United Church of Canada.