The Liscomb Methodist Church

The Liscomb Methodist Church was the first of its kind in the Liscomb area, a community that prior to 1892, was strictly Anglican.

In 1892, Will and Annie McDiarmid, returned home to Liscomb after several years living in the United States, during which time, they were introduced to Methodism. Until 1892, the Church of England was the only religious influence in the Liscomb area, although some discontent was beginning to be felt among congregants. Upon the McDiarmids’ arrival, they encouraged some of their relatives and friends to embrace Methodism. In December of 1894, the community was visited by Methodist minister C.A. Munro, who reportedly was met by opposition from the Anglicans. By the following year, however, fortnightly Methodist services had begun, and fourteen people joined the movement. Worship was held in a small hall.   

On October 1st, 1895, for the sum of five dollars, Henry and Maria Redmond deeded five-eighths of an acre next to the hall to the Trustees of the Methodist Congregation at Liscomb: James Hemlow, Esq., James Hemlow, Jr., William Hemlow, William A. McDiarmid, and John Redmond.  The intent was to build a permanent church. During the winter of 1895-96, evangelistic services were held by Munro, who had been appointed to the Stormont circuit (which included the Liscomb area). Munro was succeeded by J.A. Hart in 1896, when burials also began in the cemetery. In May 1897, Henry and Maria Redmond deeded an additional quarter acre to the trustees, and by November, the trustees had borrowed $1,000 at 9% interest from the Dominion Building and Loan Association. On January 5th, 1898, The Wesleyan reported that the congregation had raised over $1,000 themselves, “even though at a cost of much self-denial,” but that they were immediately in need of $200 more, and that the church was within two weeks of completion. 

The Liscomb Methodist Church was dedicated on January 30th, 1898. Rev. D.W. Johnson, president of the Nova Scotia conference, was the speaker, and about 230 people were in attendance. The February 9th, 1898 issue of The Wesleyan reported that the church was built from a “neat modern plan from Rhodes and Curry,” an Amherst-based architectural and construction firm. John Mills of Port Hawkesbury was the builder. The church was approximately 12 x 10 metres (40' x 33') with a classroom on one side measuring approximately 6 x 3.7 metres (20' x 12').  The sanctuary could seat 175 comfortably and 50 more by opening the folding doors to the classroom. If necessary, about 300 could be accommodated. Despite setbacks, the small congregation had succeeded in building the church and affirming their faith. As one congregant explained in The Wesleyan, “What with an exceptionally poor fishing summer among our people, disappointments for finance, and a host of smaller trials, our people have had a trying, yet it may be hoped, a profitable experience during the year.”

The original steeple of the Methodist church, with an open, airy bell tower, was very beautiful but did not prove sturdy enough to withstand the winds the Atlantic could deliver. It reportedly blew down on the night of the Halifax Explosion, December 6th, 1917. A replacement steeple was constructed, this time of a less open design, but it too succumbed years later to strong winds, and was not replaced.

On June 10th, 1925, Nova Scotia’s Methodist congregations became part of the United Church of Canada, and Liscomb reportedly was one of the last to join. By 1945, the congregation was facing difficulties and applied for permission to tear down the 1898 building and construct a new smaller church. The minutes of the United Church of Canada’s Pictou Presbytery from October 2nd, 1945 recorded that permission was given and a grant from the Hunter Building Fund would be recommended. Byron Laing recorded that on November 29th, 1945, the original church was removed by contract to Percy Nauffts for $495; only the chimney was left standing.

Wilfred Baker, Frank Robar, and Everett W. Baker constructed the second church on the site, using much of the material from the original structure. The United Churchman reported in the October 23rd, 1946 issue that a dedication service was held on September 29th for the new St. John’s United Church, Liscomb.  

Due to population decline, the difficult decision was made to close St. John’s United Church in Liscomb on October 16th, 2000. The building was subsequently demolished and a memorial stone with images of both churches now marks the site.