Bethel Gospel Chapel, Montreal, QC

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History

Bethel Gospel Chapel Montreal existed as early as 1900. At the outset it was known as the Montreal Gospel Hall on Saint Antoine Street. Later it was referred to simply as the Saint Antoine Street or the Atwater meeting, both streets being located near downtown Montreal. By 1958 and likely before, the name had been changed to Bethel Gospel Hall. It was still so designated as late as 1974 according to a letter written by Arnold Reynolds. The current property in Westmount was purchased in 1972 when that on Saint Antoine Street was demolished.

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We learn from George Dixon’s booklet, Looking Backward, Pressing Forward, that Mr. and Mrs. Henry Frost, following their return from China and service with the China Inland Mission, gave a helping hand at this assembly. The same source informs us of one missionary, Miss Mary Ridley, sent out from this assembly in 1902 to serve in China. She was still on the field as late as 1940. Several reports along with pictures of this servant of the Lord appear in the pages of Asian Giants Awake by Dr. Frederick Tatford. In 1952 she is referred to in a letter from William Rae to Dr. Arthur Hill, dated March 1st, as “our aged sister Ridley, missionary to China of long ago.’ In a handwritten letter from Miss Ridley herself, dated February 18 of the same year and sent from Penticton, BC, she confesses her “writing is horrible but am not well these days.” She passed into the presence of the Lord shortly thereafter.

Persons associated with Bethel at one time or another include, among others, George and Edith Dixon who arrived at the St. Antoine meeting in 1925 and ultimately fellowshipped at Rosemount. In 1978, brother Dixon could look back on 54 years of service to the Lord’s people in Quebec. Others who over time were part of this meeting include Meril Moore, Thomas Dawson, Cyril Bynoe, C. Nurse, E. Simons, Joseph Dumka, Herbert and John Huggins.

Civil pastors included Thomas Saunders (1956-1957) who also served as the second General Secretary of the CBCPQ 1956-1959. McDonald Simpson (1957-1958) who, having passed away in mid-1958, was followed by Randolph Simpson (1958-1966); John Huggins and Carl Worrell (1967-). Carl Worrell, author of the following paragraphs which appeared in the Precious Seed magazine in 2007, had arrived in 1957.

In the early years of the twentieth century a number of immigrants arriving from the United Kingdom who had met in simple fashion to worship the Lord in the 'Old Country', started to meet in the same way in the storefront of a building situated at 2481 St. Antoine St., Montreal. They were known as 'Plymouth Brethren' and their meeting place as the 'Gospel Hall'. This was actually one of the first assemblies in the province of Quebec. They met for breaking of bread and gospel preaching and over a period of time their numbers increased. They started a Sunday School on Sunday afternoons which attracted some of the children of the neighborhood.

Just as believers came to Montreal from Britain, so too did some arrive from the West Indies, via Nova Scotia, and joined the testimony. Over time other Afro-Canadians became Christians and came into the fellowship of the assembly. A good number of the British brethren soon set up another testimony in another part of the city. The name 'Bethel' was added and Bethel Gospel Hall became predominantly West lndian. The numbers were small but the brethren were faithful; it was not congenial to meet, during the bitterly cold winter months.

In the 1940's and 50's, through person to person witnessing and special gospel efforts, many folks of African descent were saved, baptized and added to the assembly. One outstanding evangelist who held meetings at Bethel was Mr. B. M. Nottage, one of the four well-known Nottage brothers from the Bahamas. The brothers were instrumental in building up many assemblies in the USA. Brother Nottage's labours bore much fruit; many professed faith in Christ under his ministry.

The late 1950's brought many more young believers from the West lndian islands augmenting the number in the assembly. Youth activities also drew many to the testimony.

Montreal was the venue of the 1967 World's Fair, better known as Expo '67. To prepare for this event many properties were expropriated by local government to construct an expressway. The rented assembly building was one of them. At this time the Lord provided space in a local community centre where the testimony was temporarily housed for five years.

The city of Westmount, within Montreal, is one of the most affluent municipalities in Quebec. It has been the place where many prominent businessmen and politicians lived. A quaint church building was erected there by a group of Baptists well over a hundred years ago for their meetings. They sold it to another group and the building changed hands a few times by groups whose numbers had grown too large for the building. Bethel had been looking for a building of its own for a long time. ln the spring of 1972 this church building, located at 4250 de Maisonneuve Boulevard West, in Westmount, became available. Bethel purchased it and it became Bethel Gospel Chapel; the change of name had to do purely with government dealings.

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This edifice, a three-storey structure, accommodates 250 people in the main auditorium where the floor is gently sloped and the pews curved. There is also a large balcony. While renovations were in progress the assembly met at the Welcome Hall Mission. Renovations included suitable facilities for serving food at what has become an annual three-day Thanksgiving Conference, the first of which was held in 1973. The trusses - which are of timber were reinforced with steel. To provide more space, particularly for youth activities, a basement was excavated in the early 1990s. There are Sunday School classrooms, a nursery and caretaker living quarters. The acoustics are excellent. Absolutely no alterations can be made to the façade of the building as it is deemed a heritage building.

The Lord has richly blessed the assembly throughout the years. Those who, with the help of the Holy Spirit, directed the assembly in its early days have all passed into the presence of the Lord. The present leadership continues to follow the New Testament pattern and trust this will continue unto the appearing of our blessed Lord.

AKA

  • Montreal Gospel Hall (OB) 1900-1960+
  • St. Antoine St. Gospel Hall / Atwater Meeting (OB) 1900-1936+; (OB AA) +1943-1961+
  • Bethel Gospel Hall (OB-AA) 1961-1978
  • Bethel Gospel Chapel (OB-AA) 1978-2020+

Locations

  • 289 St. Antoine St. +1904+
  • 525 St. Antoine St. +1927+
  • 2481 St. Antoine St. +1933-1967
  • 2035 Coursol St. 1968-1972
  • 4250 Maisonneuve Blvd. @ Westmount 1973-2020+

Correspondents

  • James Peter Keith (1894-1982) +1927+
  • James I. Duguid +1927+
  • Thomas Saunders +1936+
  • McDonald Simpson +1943-1958
  • R. Simpson 1959-1967
  • Carl H. Worrell, Sr. @ Brossard 1968-2020+
  • Clarence Nurse +2020+

Alumni

Sources

AAB's

  • Dawe & Son, London, England List of Some Meetings in the British Isles and Regions Beyond: 1904
  • Faithful Words Publishing, St. Louis, Missouri Assembly Address Book: 1927
  • Pickering & Inglis Directory of Some Assemblies in the British Isles: 1933
  • Light & Liberty Publishing Assembly Address Book: 1936
  • Walterick Publishers Assembly Address Books: 1943, 1948, 1950, 1954-1956, 1958-1980, 1982-1983, 1985-1987, 1989-2000, 2003-2004, 2006-2008
  • ECS Ministries (Emmaus International) Assembly Address Books: 2009-2010, 2013-2014, 2016, 2018, 2020

Other