A Short History of Trinity Bay South Corps
Many Salvation Army corps in outport Newfoundland can trace their beginning with local residents who visited St. John’s for commercial or work reasons, attended a Salvation Army meeting while there, and returned home to start a corps in their own community. According to collected information, Dildo-New Harbour Corps was established in the very same manner. In 1892, a local resident by the name of Samuel Pretty journeyed to St. John’s and returned home to start the Army in the small fishing village of Dildo.
It all began in a fish shop on Dildo beach. On Sundays the sounds of singing, hand-clapping, and the beat of an Army drum could be heard through the thin walls of the old fish shop. The noisy, up-beat, almost irreverent form of worship drew attention to itself. Soon more people were drawn to this free and lively style of worship as its popularity spread throughout the small community and into the neighbouring town of New Harbour. Many of the early followers were converted even before the corps was officially established. In just over a year enough support had been won for the Eastern Canada Division (which included Newfoundland) to decide that Dildo-New Harbour should be recognized as the 24th corps to be opened on the island. On Tuesday, December 5th, 1893, in a balmy 57 degrees Fahrenheit (Environment Canada), Brigadier John Read arrived on Dildo beach to officially open the corps and appoint the first officer, Captain Emma Mercer.
With a corps leader in place, events moved even faster. A citadel was built to hold services, and later it would also serve as a school for the children of Salvationists. Dildo-New Harbour Corps was on the march! As the congregation continued to grow, a larger barracks was needed for worship, so in 1905 a beautiful building, finished with varnished yellow pine on the inside, was constructed at the total cost of $700.
The corps continued to prosper and meet the spiritual and social needs of the people it served. A brass band was soon added to the corps providing music for the Sunday meetings and open-air services during the summer. This outreach attracted even more attention to the growing church and after the services many would follow the flag back to the barracks for another lively salvation meeting.
In 1955 the third citadel was built to accommodate a still-growing congregation. This was a modern building with central heating and washroom facilities! There was plenty of room in the basement for Sunday school, Home League meetings, and a band room. The corps boundaries also expanded during this time to include church members from, South Dildo, Whitbourne, Blaketown, Old Shop and Hopeall. No longer was it only a Dildo and New Harbour following. This growth called for a more inclusive name – Trinity Bay South Corps. The building served the growing congregation for almost half a century, and even though an extension had been added, by the year 2000 it became obvious that a newer facility was needed.
The present citadel was officially opened on May 18, 2002. The new building, all on one level, provides a spacious foyer, multi-purpose room, administration offices, meeting/prayer rooms, and a larger sanctuary for worship. The handful of humble believers who met in the old fish shop in 1892 planted a church that developed into a corps of vibrant and committed Salvationists. Indeed, the Lord has blessed and prospered the corps and it continues to play a very important part in the lives of many residents in Trinity Bay South.