December 1, 1910
Pentecostalism in Newfoundland and Labrador is related to the phenomenon of the Pentecostal Movement which developed global proportions at the turn of the twentieth century. The message was brought to Newfoundland by Alice Belle Garrigus (1858-1949), an unmarried public schoolteacher from Rockville, Connecticut.
Garrigus arrived in Newfoundland on December 1, 1910 and, on the afternoon of Easter Sunday 1911, opened Bethesda Mission on New Gower Street in St. John’s, the Newfoundland capital.
The spark which was fanned into the flame of Pentecost in Newfoundland was fueled by the efforts of Victoria Booth-Clibborn Demarest (1889-1982). In 1919 she conducted revival meetings in a Methodist church in St. John’s. One report states that 2,000 people experienced salvation during this crusade. Many of these eventually began to fellowship with Bethesda Mission.
From this initial effort, the Pentecostal message was carried to various parts of the island, and later to Labrador. Entire volumes can be written of the pioneers and the call to evangelize that characterized the early days of the Pentecostal Movement in Britain’s oldest colony and Canada’s newest province.
December 8, 1925
November 13, 1930
1927 Eugene Vaters
In 1927 Eugene Vaters (1898-1984) became the denomination’s General Superintendent, a position he held for 35 years.The PAONL was comprised of a handful of churches when Vaters took office, but by the time he retired the number of churches had increased to 115. Some of the best-known ministries of the PAONL commenced under Vaters. For example, he initiated Good Tidings, the official magazine, and Religious Book & Bible House (RBBH), the denomination’s retail division. Much of the literature and printing/publishing needs for the PAONL is met by Good Tidings Press, located at 57 Thorburn Road in St. John’s. The site also houses the main offices of the PAONL, the administrative centre for the denomination.
Vaters was succeeded as General Superintendent by A. Stanley Bursey (1906-90) in 1962. Bursey pastored Windsor Pentecostal Church for 24 years and served as the Superintendent of the now-defunct North Western District for 15 years. He served as General Superintendent from 1962 to 1980. During this time the Pentecostal Senior Citizens Home in Clarke’s Beach was built (1966) and the Head Office building at St. John’s was constructed (1970). The number of churches increased from 115 to 156 and there was growth in overseas missionary endeavours.
The PAONL, as a unified fellowship of believers, thanks God for the privilege of being part of a worldwide movement begun on the Day of Pentecost. We aim to represent Him faithfully until Jesus returns for His Church.
*For further information on The Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador, see Burton K. Janes, History of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland (St. John’s, Newfoundland: Good Tidings Press, 1997).
**For Alice Garrigus’ s 24-chapter autobiography, “Walking In The King’s Highway”, click here.