Welcome to St. Mary's Pastoral Charge!

Our Mission Statement
"To express the Good News of the Gospel as a faith community, desiring to follow Christ and proclaim Him to the world!"

Our Vision Statement
"We will carry out our mission by seeking to be a welcoming community of faith, a place where all people can experience friendship, spiritual growth, fulfillment and faith in Jesus Christ through worship, study, fellowship, service to the community and mission to the world at large."
(See Pastoral Charge Vision Post)

Our Minister Derek G. Elsworth
Pictured with his wife Amanda and children Joshua, Zachary & Julia

Our Church Contact Information
RR#1 Aspen
Guysborough County, NS
B0H 1E0
P/F 902-833-2920

Weekly Activities

JAM Sessions (Our Charge’s Program of Adult Fellowship and Exploration of the Christian Faith)... women’s bible study 10am at Mary Ann Cameron’s in Sherbrooke on Thursdays. Men’s group meets Thursdays, 7pm at St. John’s in Sherbrooke.

JAM Club – Jesus And Me (Our Charge’s Program for children and all ages Sunday School)... 2pm, every second Sunday at Kirk... will resume January 14! Final JAM Club before summer, Sunday, June 3, 2pm, Pirate Party! Dress like a pirate!

Youth Group (Our Charge’s Program for youth, grade seven and up).... 7:30pm every second Friday at Kirk... will resume January 26!

UCW... will meet at Claire McKeen’s on June 7, 7pm. There will be no meetings held in July or August.

Kirk Board... will meet following worship on Sunday, June 10.

St. John’s Board... will meet following worship on Sunday, June 10.

A Meeting... of the M&P Committee will be held, 6:30pm at Kirk in Glenelg on Wednesday, June 13, followed by the Pastoral Charge Board at 7pm.

A Memorial Hymn Sing... will be held at St. John’s United Church, Sherbrooke, on Saturday, June 16, at 7pm. All are invited and welcome! If you would like to honour the memory of someone, please contact Joan Barnhill, 522- 2654. A charitable tax receipt will be issued for all donations. Your support is greatly appreciated!

The Living Room... join us in a relaxed, living room/cafe atmosphere, for contemporary worship, prayer, praise, and time for just being together as community! Held in the lower hall of St. John’s United Church, Sherbrooke... Saturday, June 23, 6:30pm!

Combined Worship Service... Sunday, June 24, 11am at Kirk in Glenelg, celebrating Kirk’s 140th Anniversary and our faith community! The sacrament of Holy Communion will be shared. A time of food and fellowship will follow the service. Everyone invited and welcome!


A Word From The Minister

Dear Friends,
It is my privilege and pleasure to welcome you to the website of St. Mary's Pastoral Charge!
You will find here our Monthly Worship Schedule as well as the dates and times for various events in the life and work of the church. Whether you are new to the area, have been attending regularly, or maybe you have not attended for some time, know that you are welcome! We would love to have you join us!
Since arriving here on November 19, 2006, my family and I have been blessed to experience the warm welcome and loving support of the people of St. Mary’s.
This pastoral charge has been on a journey. A wonderful journey built on a foundation of hope, marked by deep faith in God, love for one another, and a abiding commitment to work, witness and worship. Together they have experienced the joys of the mountain top and have persevered through the difficulties of the valley. Throughout, God has been present and His Spirit has been evident, and yet, God never stops calling us to new things, new experiences, new journeys.
And so, we continue to journey together, full of hope, grounded in faith, committed to our mission of "Expressing the Good News of the Gospel as a faith community, desiring to follow Christ and proclaim Him to the world!"
God is with us, leading the way... exciting things are happening, thanks be to God!

In Christ’s Service,
Derek G. Elsworth

Monthly Worship Schedule

Monthly Worship Schedule for 2018

Sundays in January

9:30am St. John's, Sherbrooke
11:00am Kirk, Glenelg
6:30pm Bethany, East River - St. Mary's

Sundays in February

9:30am Kirk, Glenelg
11:00am Bethany, East River - St. Mary's
7:00pm St. John's, Sherbrooke

Sundays in March

9:30am Bethany, East River - St. Mary's
11:00am St. John's, Sherbrooke
7:00pm Kirk, Glenelg

Sundays in April

9:30am St. John's, Sherbrooke
11:00am Kirk, Glenelg
6:30pm Bethany, East River - St. Mary's

Sundays in May

9:30am, Kirk, Glenelg
11:00am, Bethany, East River - St. Mary's
7:00pm, St. John's, Sherbrooke

Sundays in June

9:30am, Bethany, East River - St. Mary's
11:00am, St. John's, Sherbrooke
7:00pm, Kirk, Glenelg 

Sundays in July

St. Mary’s Pastoral Charge will be worshipping with our Presbyterian brothers and sisters.
Service times are 10am in Glenelg and 11:15am in Blue Mountain.

Sundays in August

9:30am, Kirk, Glenelg
11am, Bethany, East River - St. Mary's
7pm, St. John's, Sherbrooke

Sundays in September

9:30am, Bethany, East River - St. Mary's
11:00am, St. John's, Sherbrooke
7:00pm, Kirk, Glenelg

Sundays in October

9:30am, St. John's, Sherbrooke
11:00am, Kirk, Glenelg
6:30pm, Bethany, East River - St. Mary's

Sundays in November

9:30am, Kirk, Glenelg
11:00am, Bethany, East River - St. Mary's
7:00pm, St. John's, Sherbrooke

Sundays in December

9:30am, Bethany, East River - St. Mary's
11:00am, St. John's, Sherbrooke
7:00pm, Kirk, Glenelg

Note: This is a general guide. Please check your bulletin, phone 833-2920, visit us on facebook or see "News & Events" at our website for changes, special services and weekly programs.

Please join us ~ All are welcome!

Pastoral Charge Vision

St. Mary’s Pastoral Charge
The United Church of Canada

Our Mission Statement is...
“To Express the Good News of the gospel as a faith community desiring to follow Christ and proclaim Him to the world.”

Our Vision Statement is...
“We will carry out our mission by seeking to be a welcoming community of faith, a place where all people can experience friendship, spiritual growth, fulfillment and faith in Jesus Christ through worship, study, fellowship, service to the community and mission to the world at large.”

Worship: We will ensure that our worship is authentic, centered on and pleasing to God. Our worship will strive to touch hearts, stir longings for a whole, healthy life and help people to discover hope. It will be meaningful, uplifting and relevant to everyday life. It will be simple, stirring and inspirational, with hymns and songs in which all can participate, and prayers, preaching and sacraments that help us discover the love and promise of God, the grace and compassion of Christ and the healing and hope of the Holy Spirit. Worship should be a time for all to encounter and experience God. Our worship space will be inviting, clean and accessible. It will be warm and welcoming. We will be warm and welcoming to one another and to new people, providing a place for growth and development, community and belonging, a place where people can share, be encouraged, have fun and discover a sense of purpose and power in their lives.

Christian Education: We recognize that we are called to continue growing in our knowledge of God and that faith is a life long, learning commitment. This means reading and studying the scriptures, reflecting, praying and meeting together to be challenged and encouraged as we share our spiritual journey. We are committed to developing, offering and participating in an array of Christian education and small group opportunities which will teach the ways of salvation, increase faith and spiritual maturity in the believer, help us to lead lives which are pleasing to God and equip all followers of Christ to do good works.   

Fellowship: The Bible commands and encourages us to seek fellowship with each other so we can grow, develop and mature as believers. Fellowship is first and foremost a relationship, rather than an activity. Interpersonal relationships are desperately needed to keep our faith alive and growing. We will be intentional in providing many opportunities for fellowship and make a conscious effort to get to know one another, foster relationships and establish strong ties.     

Mission: As individuals and as a congregation, we are committed to community service, assisting those in need and seeking justice for all of God’s creation. As a congregation we will identify and undertake one needed local mission initiative and do it well. We will continue to generously support world missions through The United Church of Canada’s Mission and Service Fund.


Our Community

Guysborough County occupies the south-eastern section of mainland Nova Scotia, being bounded on the North by Antigonish and Pictou Counties, on the west by Halifax County, on the south by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by Chedabucto Bay and the Strait of Canso. The county has an area of 1,049,491 acres and is the second largest county in the province. The county is divided into two Municipalities, Guysborough to the east and St. Mary's to the west along with two towns, Canso, east by Chedabucto Bay and Mulgrave on the Strait of Canso. The majority of the pastoral charge is located in the Municipality of St. Mary’s, which was incorporated in 1870. Bethany United Church in East River - St. Mary's is located just past the county line in the Municipality of the County of Pictou. The general area has a population of 2,500 people and is largely rural, with farming, forestry and fishing being the traditional industries. Tourism also is a major factor to the economy, and the historic Sherbrooke Village draws thousands of visitors from around the world each year.

For detailed history visit:
Phyllis Blakeley's "The History And Development of Sherbrooke In Guysborough County, Nova Scotia".

St. Mary’s River

Picture borrowed from Sherbrooke Now website:
Information taken from the Municipality website:


Our History

The Presbyterian heritage began in this community about 1810, when the great Nova Scotian Presbyterian pioneer Rev. James MacGregor was the first minister to preach in the St. Mary’s River Valley area. He came to Upper Crossroads during one of his missionary tours through Eastern Nova Scotia. He followed the riverbed upstream from Sherbrooke. The first wheeled vehicles were used to convey the ministers from the community Garden of Eden to the St. Mary’s Valley. In 1818, Rev. Alexander Lewis came to preach in the area. He was succeeded in 1838 by Rev. John Campbell. Eventually, St. Mary’s Pastoral Charge formed with congregations in Sherbrooke, Glenelg and Caledonia. In 1861, with the influx of gold, Sherbrooke became a separate charge, keeping Rev. Campbell as their minister, with Glenelg and Caledonia calling Rev. Charles Pitblado in 1865. Records indicate that there was a separate congregation in East River, with ministry, shared with Barney’s River and Lochaber, by Rev. D. McGillvary from 1833-1835, Rev. Donald McConochy, 1835-1839, Rev. Hugh MacKenzie, 1842-1845 and Rev. Alex Campbell 1846-1863. Then East River joined the St. Mary’s Pastoral Charge with Glenelg and Caledonia. Rev. Pitblado was minister until 1872, then Rev. Robert Cumming from 1875-1881 under whose ministry the Glenelg Church, now Kirk Memorial, was built, being dedicated on February 5, 1878. Rev. John Ferry served from 1884-1887, Rev. Andrew Boyd from 1889-1892, Rev. John MacFarlane, 1893-1901 and Rev. Alexander Stirling from 1901-1904. In 1903, Caledonia became a separate congregation. In 1906, Rev. William Macdonald was called to the charge, being succeeded in 1913 by Rev. Joseph Howe Kirk.

Methodism in the area began around 1808 when the pioneer preacher James Mann formed a class at Guysborough. Mr. and Mrs. William McDiarmid who had moved to Liscomb from The United States, began a congregation there in 1892. The first clergyman, Rev. Clayton A. Munroe served the area from 1894 to 1896, when Rev. J. A. Hart took over the pastorate. The church in Liscomb, St. John’s, was dedicated on January 30, 1898 under his ministry. Rev. A. Lund succeeded Rev. Hart. A new church was dedicated on September 29, 1946.

On June 10, 1925 the Congregationalist, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches in Canada united and became The United Church of Canada.

Individual congregations voted whether to join union or not. In this area, the part of the congregation which had the highest number of votes remained in the existing church building while the other part of the congregation would build a new church. The Presbyterians in Sherbrooke kept their church, with those who had voted to become United building the present church of St. John’s. It was dedicated on November 13, 1927. In East River, those Presbyterians who voted to become United met in the Lodge Building until they built the present church of Bethany in 1956. In Liscomb, the Methodist Church voted to become United. In Calendonia, the new United congregation held services in the old schoolhouse. In Glenelg the majority voted to become United, with those wishing to remain Presbyterian building a new church right next door.

St. Mary’s Pastoral Charge then consisted of three points, including East River, Glenelg and Caledonia.

The present manse was built in Aspen in 1936.

Another charge consisted of the St. John’s congregations of Sherbrooke and Liscomb, under the ministry of Rev. Donald Fraser, Rev. J. A. MacKenzie and Rev. M. Linton until 1927 and then Rev. H. Hamilton until 1930. Rev. A. H. Dyment served from 1930 until 1933, Rev. J. G. Russell, 1933-1938, Rev. William Roger 1938-1942, Rev. Alexander Firth 1942-1943, and Rev. Alexander W. Robertson 1943-1948. Sherbrooke and Liscomb then joined the St. Mary’s Pastoral Charge.

The United Church congregations in Loch Katrine, Lochaber and Country Harbour also shared in the ministry of this charge for a period between 1973 and 1978, under the name Loch Haven Pastoral Charge.

The difficult decision was made to close the Caledonia congregation in 1969 and the Liscomb church on October 16, 2000, due to the decline in population within those communities.

Today, the charge includes St. John’s United in Sherbrooke, Kirk Memorial United in Glenelg and Bethany United in East River - St. Mary’s.

Ministers who have served the St. Mary’s Pastoral Charge since 1925, as The United Church of Canada, include;

Rev. Joseph Howe Kirk 1913-1935
Rev. Thomas Humphrey 1935-1938
Rev. Thomas N. Mitchell 1938-1941
Rev. Warren Dickson 1941-1944
Rev. J. F. Rowley 1944-1946
Rev. James W. Howe 1946-1949
Rev. Phillips B. Chisholm 1949-1951
Rev. Ralph Webber 1951-1955
Rev. Lloyd Salsman 1955-1958
Rev. Jack D. Hicks 1958-1962
Rev. Robert Stevens 1962-1966
Rev. John Powell 1966-1969
Rev. Waldo Grandy 1969-1975
Rev. Gordon Fraser 1975-1977
Rev. Harry Disher 1977-1981
Rev. Keith Lewis 1981-1987
Rev. Stephen Mills 1987-1990
Rev. George Micklethwaite 1990-1996
Rev. Ross Hamilton 1996-1999
Rev. James Forbes 1999-2001
Rev. Cornelia van Bentum 2001-2005
Annika Sangster (Diaconal) 2005-2006
Rev. Derek G. Elsworth 2006-Present


Our Three Churches

"Kirk, Glenelg"

"Bethany, East River St. Mary's"

"St. John's, Sherbrooke"


The United Church of Canada

St. Mary's Pastoral Charge is a member of the Pictou Presbytery of Maritime Conference and is part of The United Church of Canada, which is Canada's largest Protestant denomination. In the United Church, we follow the Reformation principle of  "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity." St. Mary's Pastoral Charge generally celebrates a more historic faith, but you will find each United Church congregation has their own unique character.  We are truly blessed to be part of such a rich and diverse denomination!

The Crest

The crest is the official signature of The United Church of Canada, placed on legal documents, ordination and commissioning certificates, and licences to perform the sacraments. Designed by the Rev. Dr. Victor T. Mooney (a treasurer of the United Church), it was officially adopted in 1944 by the 11th General Council. For our church members, this insignia is a spiritual and historic reminder. Its oval shape is derived from the outline of a fish, a symbol of identity by early Christians. The initials of the words "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour" spell the Greek word for fish.

The crest is designed in the form of a St. Andrew's Cross with an insignia in each of the four corners. The "X" at the centre, the first letter of the Greek word for Christ, is a traditional symbol for Christ. In the four corners of the crest are symbols, three of which are particularly associated with the three communions—Congregational, Methodist, and Presbyterian—that united to form The United Church of Canada in 1925.

The open Bible represents the Congregational Churches with their emphasis upon God's truth that makes people free. From this communion we have a heritage of liberty in prophesying, love of spiritual freedom, awareness of the creative power of the Holy Spirit, and clear witness for civic justice.

The dove is emblematic of the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:10) whose transforming power has been a distinctive mark of Methodism. Here our heritage is one of evangelical zeal, concern for human redemption, warmth of Christian fellowship, the testimony of spiritual experience, and the ministry of sacred song.

The burning bush is the symbol of Presbyterianism. It refers to the bush that burned and was not consumed (Exodus 3:2), and symbolizes the indestructibility of the church. From Presbyterianism we have received a heritage of high regard for the dignity in worship, the education of all people, the authority of scripture, and the church as the Body of Christ.

The symbols alpha and omega in the lower quarter are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. They symbolize the eternal living God, in the fullness of creation (Revelation 1:8).

The Latin words ut omnes unum sint that surround the symbols on the crest mean That all may be one and are taken from John 17:21. They are a reminder that we are both a "united" and "uniting" church.

In 1980, a French translation of The United Church of Canada—L'Église Unie du Canada—was authorized by General Council to be added to the crest.

In 2012, General Council acknowledged the presence and spirituality of Aboriginal peoples in the United Church by revising the church’s crest. The crest changes include incorporating the four colours of the Aboriginal medicine wheel (yellow as a symbol of life and Asian people, black as a symbol of the south and dark-skinned people of the world, red as a symbol of the west and Aboriginal peoples, and white as the colour of the north and white-skinned people) and adding the Mohawk phrase “Akwe Nia’Tetewá:neren,” which means “all my relations.”

A New Creed

We are not alone,
We live in God's world.

We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:
to celebrate God's presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.

We are not alone.

Thanks be to God.

Information taken from the United Church website: