Pictou United Church - a Brief History

The Pictou United Church congregation came into being in 1925, at the time of Church Union. The former Methodist Church on Water Street became the first Pictou United Church, with its members drawn from the Presbyterian and Methodist congregations in the town, Rev. F.J.Armitage was our first minister and served the congregation from (1925 to 1933).

In 1936, during the ministry of the Rev. Gerald Rogers (1933 to 1939), the church on Water Street was destroyed by fire. The congregation acquired the former Knox Presbyterian Church, which had been built in 1848 on the corner of High street and James Street. (The site of this church is now the eastern part of the present church parking area). Besides the church, the property included an attached building which served for Sunday School rooms and Church Hall.

In 1963, due to significant growth of the congregation, a recommendation to erect a new church on the west side of James Street was approved. The new church was built and the opening dedication service was held June 28th, 1964.

On the tenth anniversary of the dedication of the new church in 1974, a service was held which included the burning of the mortgage and the dedication of the new Casavant pipe organ.

A great deal of growth and development has taken place in the life of the congregation and in the church. After the organ was dedicated, stained glass memorial windows were added between 1974 and 1985; a new steel roof and an elevator were installed; new carpeting, an enhanced sound system, updated office and computer equipment, a sanctuary keyboard and many other innovations have been introduced. Over the years, we have installed an upstairs accessible washroom, renovated the kitchen and redecorated the parlour and library, Major insulation projects have taken place in recent years: the opening up of the Narthex/coat room; the installation of curtains over the Organ pit and in the Narthex have helped decrease heat loss; and in 2015 we saw the dedication of a newly renovated church hall and upgraded heat-pump and propane heating system.

Our Ministry of Music has been enriched through the years by our choir under the talented leadership and support of numerous directors and organists. The ongoing commitment of Sunday School leaders and teachers, Elders and other Church Board workers, choir members, and so many others, are an integral part of our ongoing life and ministry and are deserving of the highest commendation .

Other highlights include the 2002 visit of the Bishop of Bhopal, India, Bishop Laxman & Mrs. Kamtu Maida; the 2004 adoption of policies and guidelines concerning the covenant of marriage and life-long partnerships; the 2006 five-week Celebrate Stewardship program; and in 2015 our commitment to an ongoing refugee ministry took form with the establishment of CAiRN (Communities Assisting Refugees Now). In February2016, we welcomed the Casim family and in 2017 celebrated the arrival of the Albarri & AlaaEddin families.

The year 2009 saw the beginning of our annual Advent Christmas Outreach projects - "CAN-struction"; "Box-It-Up"; "Sleigh Hunger"; "A Tree-mendous Advent-Christmas". Over the years, we have built a variety of structures out of cans and boxes of food products: Christmas trees, Santa's sleigh, a manger and candy canes. We have weighed food donations and we have invited the congregation to tangibly live hope, joy, peace and love; the result being over 5000 items donated to the local food bank and other Community organizations from within the group including everything from a campfire, to a Halloween party, heart healthy theme, spiritual reflection, celebrating each season to strutting our own version of fashion!

Topical studies and other educational events and programs are offered on an ongoing basis; meeting not only the needs of our congregation but always open to the wider community participation.

Pictou United has joined with the four other Town of Pictou churches in offering community Ecumenical worship services and events. In 2013, Pictou's first community garden, "Seeds of Hope", was dedicated and in 2014 "Soup's-On", a free community luncheon was established, two of the many projects and activities which draw on the gifts and people resources of our Town churches.

In 2017, efforts were begun to convert our north lawn into a Contemplative Garden area to provide an outdoor meeting space and a place of solitude for those requiring a relaxed and inviting setting. Plans include plants andshrubbery, a walk way, seating and a small gazebo.

There continue to be many projects, programs and activities that are a part of the life of faith that is Pictou United, creating a place of welcome for all: Chocoholics Event, Home for the Holidays, Eat Play Leave, New Scotland Days, Christmas Tea & Sale, Harvest Roast Beef Dinner, Ten Thousand Villages Festival Sale, Chicken Burger Luncheons, 'Grab & Go' School Lunch Program, musical concerts, monthly coffee hours and Second Cup Sundays... the list grows and grows. The life and ministry of Pictou United is grounded in faith and in our worship gatherings; innovative; challenging, comforting, disturbing, inspiring, nourishing - sending us out into our community and our world to live out our vision and mission.

Over the congregations’ history, we have been blessed by those who have remembered the congregation and its ministries through special bequests or naming that their church be a recipient of memorial donations or other forms of gifts.

As we give thanks for the faith-filled history of Pictou United Church we look forward to the challenges and opportunities of being God's people in our community and in our world.

Ministers of Pictou United Church

Rev. F.J. Armitage (1924-1933)
Rev. Gerald Rogers (1933-1936)
Rev. A. E. MacKenzie (1939-1945)
Rev. Gordon S. Fraser (1946-1948)
Rev. John W. Grant (1948)
Rev. Aubrey H. Moore (1949-1954)
Rev. Norman Estey (1955-1961)
Rev. Russell MacLeod (1961-1966)
Rev. John Roberts (1966-1971)
Rev. Hugh Farquhar (1971-1981)
Rev. G. Curtis McDonald (1982-1992)
*Rev. Dr. Reg Dunn
*Rev. Peter Stuart MacDonald
*various times of supply from 1981-1992
Rev. Gordon MacLean (1992-1998
Rev. Debbie Aitken (1998-1999)
Rev. Mary-Beth Moriarity