Bethel Bible Chapel, New Richmond, QC

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History

Bethel Bible Chapel began in the “Scotch settlement” of Black Cape/New Richmond, some of whose inhabitants were United Empire Loyalists. This was the site of perhaps the largest of the English assemblies on the Gaspé coast. The assembly began at Black Cape in 1889, following consecutive periods of “revival and blessing” during the previous year under the ministry of J. B. McCaffery and Elijah S. Lyman followed by W. C. Johnston, R. Harvie and B. C. Greenman. The following account of its beginnings was published in The Home Evangel for November 1929:

Over forty years ago Brn. McCaffery and Lyman visited this place and found the field “white ready to harvest.” The people in general were in bondage to the law of God, but were totally strangers to His saving Grace. Of religion they had enough, yet one could hardly find any one who knew they were saved and rejoicing in that knowledge, and able to say, "I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day," along the coast line of about 200 miles.

Light had come into the world, but still the people were "sitting in darkness and the shadow of death" or else "walking in the sparks of their own kindling" with the awful end before them of "lying down in sorrow."

But God in His rich grace showed mercy to the people, sending His faithful servants along, who announced the Glad Tidings of a full, free, and Eternal salvation, through faith in the finished  work of Christ!  

Many of them heard this good news for the first time, and with hearts prepared of God they  believed God, took Him at His word and soon were rejoicing in the knowledge of sins forgiven (Rom. 10:13). Furthermore, they knew that they possessed eternal life, as John records in his first Epistle, Chap. 5:13, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God: that you may know that ye have eternal life." No more thinking, or hoping, or feeling, but KNOWING and HAVING.

Practically all in the community are Scotch. They decided, therefore, that it was only right to go and hear what these new preachers had to say, and judge from the Book of books if these things were so. The result was as it always has been when anyone with an honest heart has desired to know the mind of God, "many believed." The McColms, McKenzies, Campbells, Fairservices, Steeles, Hendersons, McCrae’s, Burtons, Jamiesons, McLellans, and others, all accepted of God's salvation on God’s terms without money and without price, and soon afterwards built the hall you see in the picture. There they praised, worshipped, and served the God who had so graciously saved them and sought to witness of Jesus and His love to others, till their travelling days were done.

Two Halls were eventually built, one in Black Cape and the other in nearby New Richmond. The first was on land donated by the McLellans, the second on that given by the Fallows family, the latter being known as Fallows Hall.

Over the years, several workers settled at Black Cape to carry on the work. Alex Stuart from New Brunswick, who had initially visited the assembly in 1920, was apparently the first full-time worker here. Others followed, including the Moirs with their three daughters and then Alex’s son, Sam Stewart and wife Margaret (Wray), who arrived in the fall of 1930 immediately following their marriage that September. Six years later, they moved on to New Carlisle and then to Grand Cascapedia, spending a total of thirteen years on the Gaspé coast.

In 1937, following their own marriage, Alex Irvine and wife Edith (Jones) arrived to spend the next four decades as resident workers at Black Cape. The author had the distinct privilege of meeting the Irvines “on-site” in the early 1970s, sometime before the Gospel Hall was demolished in the summer of 1974. Due to health problems, the Irvines moved to Nova Scotia in 1978 where, after four coronaries in which his heart was badly damaged, our brother passed away the following year at the age of 76. Other commended workers that I am aware of who subsequently served here or elsewhere among the assemblies on the southern Gaspé coast include Milton Lovering, Victor Harrington and Jim Mitchell together with their wives. Jim Mitchell’s wife, Claudette Jacques, was a student of mine in the 1970s at Bethel Bible Institute in late 1990. Phil Baxter and wife Carol were commended to the work here in the spring of 1991.

Perhaps the assembly’s “claim to fame” was the annual Bible conference, a spiritual highlight of the year, held in early summer. The last one to be conducted at the Black Cape Gospel Chapel was in 1973, prior to its demolition. Beginning Friday evening and continuing throughout the Lord’s Day, “either in the Gospel Hall or in another hall in New Richmond, seven miles away,” visiting speakers took the platform. Most of the early preachers, many of them well-known Brethren of that era, came by train. Following the conference, they would often visit the other assemblies up and down the coast.

Bethel Bible Chapel in New Richmond, newly-constructed, opened in 1975 and continues to the present time, having become a bilingual work as of 2001 when the first French Canadians were welcomed at the Lord’s Supper. The annual conferences continue here to the present time.

AKA

  • Black Cape Gospel Hall (OB) 1889-1975
  • Bethel Bible Chapel (OB) 1975-1994; 1997-2021
  • New Richmond Bible Chapel (OB) 1994-1997

Locations

  • 116-A Veteran St. 1998-2021+

Correspondents

  • David Livingston Campbell (1876-1955) @ Carey's Hill +1936-1950+;
  • Blair Fairservice (b. 1891 Black Cape, QC - d. 1992 BC, QC) @ Carey's Hill +1954-1980+;
  • Kelvin R. Carmichael +1982-1986+
  • Phil Baxter 1994-1997
  • Daniel Dugas 2004-2021+

Other Leadership

Alumni

Visiting Ministry

Sources

  • Strout, Richard. The Early History of English Brethren Assemblies in the Gaspé
  • AAB's 1904, 1927, 1936, 1943, 1948, 1950, 1954-2020;