Imagine boarding a time machine for a trip back to the past—to the year 1845 to be exact. You wouldn’t find Canada on a map of the world because it didn’t exist yet. Confederation wouldn’t take place for another 22 years.
Elsewhere in the world. English nurse Florence Nightingale founded modern nursing; author Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was published; and the U.S. Civil War was yet to be fought.
A Church is Born
Here in Fredericton, a handful of people had been meeting at one another’s homes for worship and study. Known as “Free Christian Baptists” they were determined to establish a church—and they did just that, meeting on August 15, 1845 to organize the Fredericton Free Baptist Church.
In the beginning the church was small in number, maybe 10 to 12 in all, but they made up for that in their tenacity and determination. They moved quickly to see their church grow, and within months erected the first house of worship, which was situated at 229 Brunswick Street.
Unfortunately, their determination was short-lived. The first pastor had a circuit of churches and did not reside in the city, so Sunday worship services were not held regularly. When several members moved from the city, those who remained became discouraged, and for a time the church lost its visibility. A revival of interest took place in the mid-1850’s, and the church was reorganized at that time.
When the Rev. Ezekiel McLeod became the first full-time pastor in 1858, the church came into its own and began to experience steady growth. Soon there was a pressing need for a new house of worship.
Under Rev. McLeod’s leadership, in 1861 the congregation erected a much more spacious worship centre at the corner of George and York streets. For more than 100 years, generations of people worshipped at George Street, and the church became known in the city as the “friendly church on the corner.”
By the 1960’s the George Street building had become inadequate to meet the needs of the congregation. Several options were explored to expand the property, but eventually plans turned to the construction of a new building.
The Church Today
The current building was erected on the corner of Connaught and Northumberland Streets and was dedicated on February 14, 1965.
Along with a new building, the church was also given a new name: Grace Memorial Baptist Church, honouring the memory of Grace Matheson, a member of the congregation who served as a missionary in India for more than 44 years.
The most thrilling part of our rich history is the story of many who have found life, purpose and freedom through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
We hope you will consider becoming a part of what He is doing here, and take advantage of the activities and opportunities we offer. We are convinced that you will find Grace Memorial Church an exciting, challenging, helpful place for you and your family.