Fonds - Cochrane Street United Church (St. John's, Newfoundland) fonds

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Cochrane Street United Church (St. John's, Newfoundland) fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Based on content of records, as well as legal documentation

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Physical description

6 m of textual records

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Biographical history

Cochrane Street United Church, originally a Methodist congregation, began as a Sunday School in 1878 and became a congregation in 1882 with the opening of its first church building at the same site as the present church building. The congregation was administered by the officers and the rules of the St. John's Circuit of the Methodist Church and was bound by the rules and discipline of the Methodist Church. In 1890, the congregation became independent and was known as St. John's East Circuit of the Methodist Church.

The congregation has had two forms of governance since its organization as an independent congregation.

When the congregation became independent in 1890, it was administered by a Quarterly Official Board, made up of a Chairman, Treasurer, Secretary, members of the Board of Stewards, responsible for property and financial matters, and members of the Board of Session, responsible for the spiritual life of the congregation and personnel matters relating to the paid ordained and lay staff. The Minister or Ministers of the congregation were also members of the Quarterly Official Board, as were representatives of men and women's groups, and the Sunday School. A Board of Trustees had authority in legal and financial matters and also were members of the Official Board.

The Official Board met quarterly and held at a least an annual congregational meeting to report on the various aspects of church life. The congregation was also called to meetings by such items as the search for a new minister or major financial or other matters. The Boards of Stewards, Session and Trustees usually met monthly as individual committees or more often as required in order to carry out the day to day work of the church.

In 1914, the church building was destroyed by fire. The new building, on the original site, was opened in 1916. The church administration had the same structure, except that the congregation was now named Cochrane Street Methodist Centennial Church, in recognition of the Centenary of formalized Methodism in St. John's. In 1925, like all other Methodist churches in Newfoundland, Cochrane Street became a member of The United Church of Canada and was known as Cochrane Street Centennial United Church. The Centennial part of the name was no longer in use by the mid-1940's.

In 1987, to better reflect the work and activities of the church, the duties formerly entrusted to the Quarterly Official Board, Stewards, Session and Trustees were given to a new administrative structure, variously known as Board of Management and Board of Directors, and approved at the annual meeting of the congregation in 1987. The work of the Session now fell under Church Life and Worship Committee with its subcommittees of Worship and Sacraments, Pastoral Care, and Christian Education. The Property Committee and the Finance Committee assumed the duties of the Board of Stewards. A Board of Trustees continued to have supervision over legal, insurance and some financial aspects of the congregation. Women and men's groups continued to have representation on the new Board as did a Ministry and Personnel Committee responsible for all aspects of the relationship between employed ordained and lay staff of the congregation and the members of the congregation.

The Board met usually monthly, and reported to the congregation at least annually or at times when the concerns of the congregation needed to be heard, at times of searching for a new minister, or when major issues faced the congregation. The committees and subcommittees met usually monthly or more often as required, and reported through their representatives (usually the chairs of the committees) to the regular meetings of the Board. They also reported at the annual meetings of the congregation, as did all other groups in the congregation, such as the men's and women's organizations.

Throughout the evolution of the congregation, various committees were established for other work, such as carrying out particular projects, studying and reporting on various issues, or searching for a new minister. In 2002, a Committee on Records, Archives and History was approved by the Board to care for the records produced within the congregation as well as help promote the congregation to its members and in the community.

Custodial history

The custody of most of the described records is unknown. Since most United Church records were created and maintained by volunteers, they were often kept in private homes. In the case of this particular congregation, this practice was most fortunate as many of the records that predate the fire which destroyed the church building in 1914 survived. The Archives was established in 2003 at which time it assumed physical control of the church records that had been previously gathered and stored in the church building.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records which document the work and activities of Cochrane Street United Church congregation, its boards and committees and its organizations, with the records starting in 1882.

The records consist of the administrative records of the congregation which include the Quarterly Official Board, the Boards of Session and Stewards, their committees, both standing and ad hoc, and the Board of Management starting in 1987, and its committees. The fonds also includes financial records, comprising of financial statements and reports as well as some audited reports. Also included are vital statistic records dating from the independence of the congregation in 1890 and membership records dating from 1916. Annual reports, many of which were published, are included. Women's and men's groups, youth groups, and Sunday School records are also a part of this fonds.

The records are arranged in the following series: board and committee records (1882-2005); financial records (1935-2004); legal records (1876-1981); baptism, marriage and burial records (1890-2006); membership records (1891-2005); congregational meetings (1930-2003); annual reports (1916-2005, predominant 1948-2005); general correspondence (1979-2003); Sunday School records [1886-198-]; youth groups records [196-]-[199-]; women's groups records (1931-2005); men's groups records [191-]-2001; related records ([19-]-2004).

Notes area

Physical condition

Early Sunday School records are fragile and copies have been produced. The earliest Circuit register is also in fragile condition.

Immediate source of acquisition

The records had been acquired over a number of years in several accessions from church officials and congregation members.


When possible, the records have been arranged according to the administrative structure of the church. Such is the case with the two forms of church governance which this congregation has used. Some records, such as baptism, marriage and burial registers, membership records, congregational meetings, legal records and some financial records overlap the changes in administration of the church and are created independently of the form of administrative structure of the congregation. They are therefore described as separate series.

Other records, such as the youth and women's groups do not demonstrate this difficulty, as changes in administrative structure of these organizations or, or in the case of the women's groups, evolution of the organizations into new organizations resulted in completely new sets of records. These organizations report to the Congregational Board of the time but are not otherwise subject to Board or committee governance.

Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

The deeds of the congregational property are copies. The originals are held by the Registry of Deeds, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Photocopies of the annual congregational meetings have been completed and are stored off-site.

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

The early Sunday School records (1886) are in fragile condition as are the early membership books (1891-1967). These Sunday School records have been photocopied and all users are expected to use the copy.

The membership books must be used under the direct supervision of the Archives staff until a copy can be produced. There are no other restrictions to access to any records currently in the custody of the Church Archives. New transfers will be restricted until described.

In addition, any records containing personal information such as donor information and personnel documents transferred to the Archives, will be restricted, with those restrictions applied according to the Privacy Policies of The United Church of Canada.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

A finding aid is available, both printed and electronic, and contains descriptions to the file level in all series, sub-series, and to the item level in some. A box list is included.

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Accruals are expected on a regular basis.

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Created - May 15, 2013

Language of description

  • English

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