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Church Grove Cemetery Church, Melvern Square, NS

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At first sight, the little white building in the Church Grove Cemetery may not seem very significant. The small rectangular edifice stands close to the Stronach Mountain Road, its dark framed windows looking out at the graves that surround it.  The church may be small in stature, however, it boasts a history as rich as any of its larger counterparts.  It once held one of the few Covenanter congregations in Canada.

The Covenanters were members of the Church of Scotland until the late 17th century, when the church recognized King William III as head of state in England and Scotland.  Some members felt that Christ was the only legitimate head of both church and state and they left the Presbyterian Church to form the Covenanter Church.  The practices of the Covenanters reflected their belief in following Christ alone.  They felt the Bible was the supreme law and any actions or practices not commanded by scripture were forbidden in the church.  Hymns were not sung because they were not in the Bible. Only Psalms were allowed to be sung, without the benefit of musical instruments.  They also sat to sing and stood to pray.

In 1851, Rev. Robert Stewart came from Ireland to the community of Wilmot and Melvern Square, preaching in the local schoolhouse.  In 1853-54 the Covenanter Congregation was officially organized and David Cruikshanks and Daniel Morrison were named elders.  The church building was completed in 1855.  In 1878, Rev. Stewart while keeping his home in Melvern Square, travelled to the United States and joined the Presbyterian Church.  In 1892 he rejoined the Covenanter Church and returned to Melvern Square.  His home congregation would not stay Covenanters much longer and they joined the Presbyterian Church of Canada in 1893.  The Presbyterians in this part of the valley were eventually absorbed into other congregations and the Covenanter Church was no longer in use.  The little white church became part of the Melvern Square Cemetery Company and in 1976 it was renamed the Church Grove Cemetery Company.

Rev. Stewart died in 1899 and is buried in the cemetery, behind the church.  His wife, the former Margaret Morrison of Wilmot, passed away in 1937 and is buried in Louisiana, USA.

The church still stands in spite of its infrequent use, due to the dedication of a handful of volunteers, who down through the years, made sure the property was cared for and that same dedication is being carried out today by the present volunteers.  The church has not changed in the past 150 years, with the exception of plastic rain gutters that were installed in recent years to protect the aging structure from the elements.

The church has never had electricity installed and a square hole in the back wall once housed a wood stove, which was the only source of heat for the congregation.

One outstanding feature of the church that stands out is the beautiful pulpit.  It is made out of solid mahogany and is ornately carved and is beautifully detailed.  Apparently, in 1855, a parishioner had the pulpit delivered by ship from Saint John, NB, to the port of Margaretsville and hauled down over the mountain to the church in an ox driven cart.

Our little church has a great deal of history behind its origin.



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