“A house upon a hill cannot be hidden.” Such is the case of St. James Church, Long Reach, for it stands upon a hill of good proportions with a panoramic view of the St. John River.
Long Reach is rich in history and tradition. It was on an island opposite the present Church that the first religious service on the St. John River was held. This was in 1611 during the French occupation. It was up “The Reach” that Captain John Gorham sailed when he took possession of the land for Great Britain in 1758. Up Long Reach sailed the Loyalists in 1783 to colonize the shores of the river and to establish the Province of New Brunswick.
On the slopes of the hills are the homes of the inhabitants, descendants of the Loyalists who cleared the farms and started a Mission. The Parish Clergymen from Kingston came when possible to have services in the homes of the people. It is supposed that the large parish and difficulty of travel prompted the building of St. James Church.
The land for the Church was given by Brown Whelpley. Construction was carried out 1841-1843 by local mean and of local materials. Samuel Foster was in charge of Church construction and the builder of the “Three Decker Pulpit’ with the Circular communion Rail. It is of Queen Anne Design and is the only one of its kind in any Anglican Church in this Province. It is believed to be the only one of its type in any Anglican Church in Canada.
Before the Consecration the Bishop required that the sittings should be made free and pew holders signed an agreement, reserving to themselves the right of reserving their seats on the terms of the original sale, if while they lived in the Parish, it should be deemed advisable, with the Bishop, to have pews sold to individuals. That time never carne. The original box pews were replaced by the modern pews in 1915. The panels of the old-time pews now form the wainscot around the interior walls.
The Bible on the Reading Desk has been in use throughout the existence of the Church. It was prescribed by the Church Society in 1843. For eighty years a “Plain Deal Table’ had served as an Altar. In 1926 the present Altar was installed and dedicated. It had previously been in St. Luke’s Church, Young’s Cove. Its history is unknown but it is believed to have been in use in St. Luke’s from 1853.
On October 30, 1845, the Church was consecrated by the Right Reverend John Medley, giving it the name of Saint James Church, Long Reach.
In 1938 a Church Hall was erected just across the road from Saint James Church in memory of Mrs. Frances Smith who had served her Church faithfully and well for many years, and was given the name “Frances Smith Memorial Hall.” This building was destroyed by fire in 1948, and a new building was erected on the site which bears the same name.
Resource: Anglican Parish of Kingston
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