Chignecto Covenanters

Chignecto Covenanters: A Regional History of Reformed Presbyterianism in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, 1827-195

Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Chignecto Covenanters
    Book Description:

    Drawing on unpublished stories, minutes, and reminiscences of Chignecto clergymen, Hay delineates Covenanter life, exploring its beliefs and traditions, leadership, relations with other Presbyterian bodies, and the causes of the movement's collapse. He focuses on two key figures in the movement, Reverend Alexander Clarke, an Irish missionary who established Reformed Presbyterian congregations in the area, and Reverend Joseph Howe Brownell, who consolidated the congregations and led them into the Presbyterian Church of Canada in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6620-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Illustrations‚ Maps and Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-6)

    This study aims to be a scholarly account of the Chignecto Covenanters‚ or Reformed Presbyterians. Of course‚ it builds on earlier works‚ three of which are particularly worthy of mention‚ (1) Robert M. More Jr’sAurora Borealis: A History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Canada (Covenanter)‚1820-1967 (Philadelphia‚ 1967) was written when More‚ an American Covenanter‚ was serving the Almonte‚ Ontario‚ Reformed Presbyterian congregation. More surveys the entire Covenanter movement in Canada. (2) “The Reformed Presbyterian Church in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia or The Covenanters in the Lower Provinces” was Frank Archibald’s BD thesis at Pine Hill Divinity...

  7. CHAPTER ONE The Reverend Alexander Clarke: From Ulster to Chignecto
    (pp. 7-16)

    The Clarkes were sent to the Maritimes by the Reformed Presbyterian Synod of Ireland. The Irish synod’s initial strategy was to serve own members living in different parts of the world‚ though it was especially concerned with missionary work in the United Kingdom.¹ In 1820 the synod decided “that it isdesirableto take steps for sending missionaries of our Communion to preach the Gospel in New Brunswick and other places abroad where some of our people are scattered‚ and also in parts of our own country where there may be some individuals who are desirous of hearing the Word...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Irish Reformed Presbyterian Heritage and the Chignecto Covenanter Tradition
    (pp. 17-33)

    The distinctive Covenanter principles that Rev. Alexander Clarke held can be summarized as follows:

    1 Christ is head of both church and state.

    2 Since Christ is not yet recognized as head of state‚ Covenanters

    do not hold public office‚

    do not swear oaths,

    do not vote.

    3 The Bible is the supreme law in state and church; what is not commanded in the Scripture about the worship of God is forbidden. In church services‚ hymns are prohibited; only psalms are sung.

    All musical instruments are excluded from worship.

    All secret societies are forbidden.

    4 Covenanting - public witness -...

  9. CHAPTER THREE Chignecto Covenanter Converts
    (pp. 34-45)

    After the Acadians¹ were expelled from the region in 1755‚ Nova Scotia was hungry for settlers. It was also then safe for settlement‚ or Governor Charles Lawrence proclaimed in 1758‚ looking especially Great Britain and New England. The first group to immigrate after expulsion of the Acadians were the New England planters. Most of those moving to Nova Scotia and the Saint John River Valley came from Massachusetts‚ Rhode Island‚ and (pre-eminently) Connecticut.² The Chignecto region‚ however‚ lagged behind planter settlements in Annapolis County and the Cobequid Basin. Later there was some migration of settlers between Horton/Cornwallis and Cumberland. It...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Alexander Clarke’s Labours and the Watershed of 1847
    (pp. 46-62)

    After his visit to Chignecto in the autumn of 1827‚ Rev. Alexander Clarke moved permanently to the area with his family in 1828.¹ Having settled for a time on the Nova Scotia side of the Northumberland Strait‚ at Coldspring Head‚² Clarke came to realize that he could not support his family working as a missionary alone. As he remarked‚ “I never had a fixed salary ... Our people [were] few and widely scattered. The voluntary subscriptions ... never came up to the independent mark. Hence the necessity to work much with my own hands.”³ In 1835‚ therefore‚ Clarke bought a...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE The American General Synod: Consolidation and Fragmentation
    (pp. 63-88)

    Rev. Alexander Clarke joined the New School General Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (commonly called the General Synod) through its Northern Presbytery on 21 April 1848‚ taking all the Covenanter churches and mission stations in Chignecto with him. Clarke’s February 1848 petition to join the New School Reformed Presbyterians read as follows:

    The petition of Alexander Clarke of Amherst‚ Nova Scotia‚Humbly Showeth‚That‚ twenty years ago‚ petitioner was sent out as a missionary to these provinces by the Reformed Presbyterian Synod of Ireland‚ - that in the present field of his labour‚ petitioner found but...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Revival and Resolution under the Reverend Joseph Howe Brownell
    (pp. 89-102)

    Joseph Howe Brownell was born in the Gulf Shore community of Northport on 18 November 1858‚ the fourth of the eight children of Aaron Davis Brownell and Mary Huston.¹ Physically challenged from birth (“he was club-footed and had to wear special boots without overshoes”),² Brownell “lived with constant pain”³ and probably was “never strong.”⁴ Nonetheless‚ he “was educated in the common school of Northport‚ Pictou Academy‚ the Normal School‚ Truro‚”⁵ and “was a teacher in the public schools of Nova Scotia before entering the ministry.”⁵ His first cousins George W. Brownell and Aaron Finley and his older brother Hiram Huston...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN Covenanter Decline and Fall
    (pp. 103-116)

    Under the progressive leadership of Rev. Joseph Howe Brownell and his associates‚¹ Chignecto Reformed Presbyterianism went out with neither a whimper nor a bang. Its fading away‚ and the manner in which the Little Shemogue congregation became Presbyterian‚ was not without dignity. Looking back from 1905 to 1827‚ however‚ raises the question of the causes of the Covenanter collapse.

    The Covenanters faced stiff competition from the other Protestant dissenting churches - Baptist‚ Methodist‚ and other Presbyterian. Always a minority in Chignecto‚ the Reformed Presbyterians flourished for a time thanks to a unique combination of circumstances: in Little Shemogue‚ there was...

  14. Appendix: Chignecto Covenanter Congregations
    (pp. 119-138)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 139-194)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 195-208)
  17. Index
    (pp. 209-214)