Anglican Parish of St. Peter

Traditional Anglicanism for Today's World


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Parish History

 

What sort of buildings do we construct in the early 21st century? It seems we build rather large homes - if we can afford them. As for public buildings, shopping malls and hockey rinks predominate. It hasn't always been so.

St. Peter's Church was constructed in 1837 and opened for worship around Christmas time in 1838. St. Peter's, uniquely, has been in use for the worship of God the Holy Trinity ever since. It is the oldest church building, of any denomination, in the Fredericton area which has been in continual use since its opening over 160 years ago. You might say that when we state that we are "open for business" we really mean it.

But this raises the question of "what business"? Homes are now built for the sole enjoyment of one nuclear family, malls are built for the sole calculation of generating income and hockey rinks are dedicated to one sport for those who are so interested and who can afford the associated costs. St. Peter's was built for the public worship of Almighty God. Open to all, built at great cost for the time and at considerable sacrifice, St. Peter's witnesses to an age of different priorities. In the midst of subsistence farming, at a time of economic hardship and just after the first Loyalist generation had passed away, St. Peter's was constructed. The local population, including a significant contingent of the Black community, worked and erected St Peter's Church.

In contrast to present structures devoted to leisure, money or sport, St. Peter's was built for one purpose only - the worship of Almighty God according to the liturgy of the Anglican Church, the Book of Common Prayer. The building was not multipurpose and certainly not utilitarian by any stretch of the imagination. It was used once a week for roughly two hours. That was all. Yet our predecessors in the Faith in this place understood public Common Prayer as so important that they erected this place of worship in the wilderness of Colonial New Brunswick solely for the praise, adoration and supplication of their God. As such, St. Peter's physical presence in our midst stands as a mighty testament to the priorities of our ancestors. It serves as a challenge to our time. Do we share their priorities? Do we understand and agree with the importance they attached to public worship? Do we contemplate our Creator and His Son's love and seek His Spirit in this place as they did? Do we reflect on the place of Faith in public spaces and debates that St. Peter's early construction and presence implies? Do we understand the privilege and share the pleasures of entering into the heritage of their labours. May we think on these matters and avail ourselves of the opportunity they have provided to enter, rest and pray.