Nelson United Church , as we know it today, was first built in 1908/09 as Trinity Methodist, replacing a wooden structure at Josephine and Silica. Two fires, in 1915 and 1967 (where only the choir gowns survived both), tested the resolve of the congregations but each time they rebuilt and improved the structure.
The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925 with Trinity Methodist and St. Paul's Presbyterian becoming United Churches. In 1955, they merged into Trinity St. Paul's United and a new congregation, Fairview United was born. These two merged in 1995 to form Nelson United Church.
Our church and pipe organ were rededicated March 1969 after the second fire.
Saturday, March 7 and 8, 2009 — Centennial Weekend
The History Time Line of our churches circles the Church Hall, loaded with photographs and events that span more than 100 years!
The weekend was a great success, gathering a generation of members from the various congregations for an Open House at the Church and dinner and entertainment in the evening. Sunday Morning Worship was highlighted by the the reflection by Rev. Hilary Bitten, President of Kootenay Presbytery, and the creation of a time capsule.
Rev. Hilde Seal, President of BC Conference, delivered the reflection for the evening Rededication Service of Nelson United Church.
The celebrations continue!
Other Centennial Celebration Events
March 14, 2009 – Organ Concert – "Celebrating the Pipes: The International Year of the Pipe Organ" featuring John Pengelly, Tobias Jenny, and Isabel Cureton.
July 5, 2009 – NUC's 14thAnniversary Sunday (celebrating the union of Fairview and St. Paul's Trinity on July 1st, 1995; Celebration of the Installation of the Bell
And in August:
Robert Kwan, originally from Nelson, BC where he was a member of and organist for Fairview United Church, is a recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where he received the degrees of Doctor of Musical Arts in March 2008 and Master of Music in 2003, both in organ performance. He also holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Victoria and Associate diplomas from the Royal Canadian College of Organists and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Having held appointments at various Anglican and Episcopal churches and chapels in Canada, England and the United States, he is currently the Assistant to the Organist-Choirmaster at a prominant Episcopal church in Westport, Connecticut. In addition to church music, Robert enjoys collaborative work with singers and instrumentalists, as well as working in theatrical settings. Outside of musical life, Robert participates in recreational activities, such as tennis in the summer and curling in the winter.
He will return to Nelson this summer for a workshop and concert.
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As mentioned in the June, 2008 Mustard Seed, 2009 will be the 100th birthday of our building. The foundation stone was laid in 1908 and, as we have recently discovered, the dedication ceremony was held March 7, 1909. Our plan is to have a number of events and activities beginning this fall and culminating with the Sunday service, May 7, 2009.
Folks are researching through our church archives, Touchstone Nelson archives, the Nelson Daily News records and United Church of Canada records for fascinating history.
One of the discoveries was this appeal for funding for the Church furnishings — for the curious in the
crowd, a $10 contribution then is equivalent to about $1,310 today (if interest rates averaged 5%) — compare that to your current budgets.
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Our church bell has come out of decades of storage to be mounted outside our main entrance — thanks to the efforts of Bob Steed, Rich Donaldson and Bryan Reid.
The Church Bell foundered at the Buckeye Bell foundry in 1895 and was purchased by Trinity Methodist Church in 1908 from the E. W. Vanduzen Company of Cincinnati. It is made of bronze. All of the records of the Vanduzen foundry were destroyed in the great Ohio River flood of 1937, so it is impossible to find out anything about its origin from that source.
We know that the first Methodist Church in Nelson was built in 1908/09, destroyed in a fire in 1915 and rebuilt. In 1925 the merger of four Christian denominations formed the United Church of Canada. Our Church Records dating back to the 1925 merger show a transfer of a bell to the United Church in Nelson with a value of $100.
When the church rebuilt in 1917, the bell was stored in the rafters and forgotten about until the building again burned in 1967. The day after the fire, Fred Whitely, Chair of the Church Council, and a firefighter were inspecting the remains while another firefighter tried to cut away smouldering rafters above – not realizing there was a bell resting on them. Fred was about 10 feet away when the bell came crashing down, and fortunately no one was injured. From that point onwards, the bell was moved around from place to place.
The Bell has a very large crack. It is believed that the crack was as a result of the fire in 1915 that destroyed the Methodist Church and the headstock was later destroyed in the fire of the St. Paul's Trinity United Church in 1967. The crack has been repaired and done very well. Experts are surprised at the quality of the repair. Carl Zimmerman of "Bell Talk –The American Bell Association International, Inc." is an expert in Bell History states, "The repair is unusual, because very few welders have the sense to be able to handle cast bronze properly."
The Bell was never installed in the rebuilding of St. Paul's Trinity United Church and had remained in storage since the time of the fire.
It was placed beside the front entrance to Nelson United Church as part of the Centenial Celebrations and was rededicated on August 30, 2009.