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History of St. Ambrose Church
Bay of Islands
St. Ambrose Anglican Church stands as a living emblem of religious life in the Bay of Islands.
Founded in 1866, the church was the first of any denomination built in the area. While the original structure was replaced with a new building in 1954, the legacy of the original St. Ambrose Church lives on.
The generations who have given praise to God at St. Ambrose owe that legacy to one Rev. U. Z. Rule, a missionary who arrived in Birchy Cove (Curling) in 1865.
The following year, Rule began overseeing the construction of St. Ambrose. But, when the herring came in during the fall, the men had to leave the construction.
Consequently, the building wasn't completed until 1867. Once finished, it acted as both a chapel and a school. The first confirmation at St. Ambrose was recorded on August 6 of that year.
A second St. Ambrose Church was built further inland and on the hill, in 1954. It seats 114. In 1996, 130th anniversary celebrations took place including a special service of Thanksgiving, dedication of a cairn on the beach marking the site of the first St. Ambrose Church and dedication of a new church banner, and a big anniversary party for all ages, held on the beach.
The Cemetery is located on a steep incline, next to the Church, and overlooking the Bay. The oldest headstone identified reads:
In Memory of Adelaide, Died January 14, 1869, Aged 11 months, also Catherine, Died July 15, 1880, Children of William and Jane Weller.
Contributed by: Deborah Brake
Co-Coordinator, West Coast District
- April 26,2000.
Page Revised: July 2002 (Don Tate)
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