Two Rivers Pastoral Charge was officially formed on September 1, 1998 when Summerville United Church and Bayswater Union Church, Long Reach United Church, and Westfield United Church came together to form a new Pastoral Charge in the United Church of Canada. As all of churches were situated on either the Wolastoq (St. John) River or the Kennebecasis River, the name for the new charge became Two Rivers Pastoral Charge. Members of each church worked together prayerfully and diligently to form the necessary committees and groups, and shared in the work of the new Pastoral Charge. In 2014, when neighbouring St. Giles United Church closed, many of their families were warmly welcomed to Westfield United Church.
Two Rivers Pastoral Charge has been blessed with remarkable leadership. Rev. Barbara Bryce was the first minister of Two Rivers Pastoral Charge, moving in to the manse at Long Reach and providing leadership as the changes to the committees and governance structure were worked out. Rev. Bryce remained with us until 2000, when she accepted a call to Ormstown, Quebec. The next year, Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Stevenson was called as our minister, beginning on July 1, 2001. Rev. Elizabeth, with her deep faith, boundless energy, and positive action; and brought a great sense of stability and belonging to our young charge. In 2017, with Rev. Elizabeth’s encouragement and guidance, Two Rivers Pastoral Charge became an Affirming Ministry of the United Church of Canada. Rev. Elizabeth retired on June 30, 2017 after 16 years in ministry with Two Rivers Pastoral Charge. Rev. Kate Jones was the next minister to answer our call to ministry, and she began with us on July 1, 2018. Rev. Kate brings with her a steadfast faith, a wealth of knowledge, a deep appreciation and enjoyment of the outdoors, and a wonderful personality.
As well as becoming an Affirming Ministry, there have been changes in the Pastoral Charge over the years. The Long Reach United Church building was expanded to add the River Room – a space for meetings and Sunday School, as well as a kitchenette and washroom – with construction finishing in 2013. In 2009, Session supported the Peninsula congregations in making the difficult and courageous decision to have only one service each Sunday, alternating between Summerville and Long Reach; and to stop using the Bayswater church building. The sanctuary at Westfield United Church was redesigned and painted in 2011, stained glass windows from St. Giles were installed in 2014, the parlour was renovated in 2018, and a scripture verse (Matthew 18:20) was inscribed on the sanctuary wall in 2018.
In 2011, members of Two Rivers Pastoral Charge came together to form a Joint Needs Assessment Committee to determine the needs of the Charge in the years ahead, with a focus on the youth of our communities. A Youth and Young Family Ministry Coordinator position was created, and our young people have subsequently become more involved in our churches. Over the years, this position has been filled by Amanda Francis (2011-2012), Jason Smith (2012-2013), Bette Ashley (2013-2016), and Gabrielle (Gaby) Anderson (2016-present). When Gaby was on maternity leave (2019-2020), the Youth and Young Family Ministry Coordinator position was filled by Tatum Clendenning.
The Manse was located near Long Reach United Church and was built in the early 1900s on property purchased in 1874 by the Wesleyan Mission House. The manse was home to all the clergy until 2017, when a decision was made to sell the manse and provide the minister with a housing allowance instead.
Our Church in the World Committee has been very active over the years selling Fair Trade products, Olive Wood products from Palestine, supporting local outreach, and by supporting the Mission and Service Fund of the United Church of Canada each year. We have had individuals and groups embark on mission work in Guatemala, El Salvador, Thailand, India, and Cuba, among other countries. In 2006 our ministry called us towards refugee sponsorship. Unfortunately, our initial sponsorship plans fell through; however in 2015 we successfully sponsored the Sibaei family from Syria. This family of six arrived in February 2016, settled happily in Saint John, and soon welcomed another baby. With our continued support, they have settled in schools, learned English, and have become active members of the community.
Two Rivers Pastoral Charge has worked to help the local communities by sponsoring Scouts Canada and Girl Guides of Canada, supporting Food Banks, Clothing Depots, Christmas Families, as well as offering personal time with Soup Kitchens, Romero House & Van, Coverdale Center for Women, and Grace Presbyterian Overnight housing. Our choirs have travelled to Nursing Homes and given concerts sharing their beautiful music with everyone. The women’s groups in our churches have worked in our churches and in our communities, providing wonderful dinners, teas, quilting, concerts, and many other endeavours.
With the prayers and actions of all our members and adherents, Two Rivers Pastoral Charge will continue to dream dreams and plan for the future. God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God!
(Written by Marilyn Patstone, 2019)