The history of the congregation of Bethany United Church is historically significant. Early residents of Carbonear (ca. 1765), along with others from Mosquito (now Bristols Hope) and Harbour Grace longed for a preacher to fulfill religious duties such as marriages, baptisms, and burials. Ordinary people buried their deceased loved ones themselves, usually in private gardens. Having decided the need for a preacher was very necessary to the growth of the area, local settlers met in November 1765 and drafted a document. This letter was written to George Davis, a local merchant of the day who normally spent part of the year in England, requesting that he seek out a Protestant Minister of the Gospel on his return there so that a preacher might come and reside amongst them. An annual salary of 100 pounds was offered to the prospective preacher.
The request was answered in the form of Lawrence Coughlan, a convert himself who was formerly a Roman Catholic until fifteen years earlier when he converted to Wesley's Methodism in Ireland and would later become an ordained Anglican priest on April 25, 1766. This Irish preacher would come to Carbonear to preach to Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant people, and would lead the new religion that was Methodism to eventually become the strongest in the province.
The first chapel at Carbonear was built in 1766 by a number of proprietors and was used for approximately 22 years. It was used by the new dissenting "Wesleyan Methodist Society" inhabitants and the Anglican inhabitants as well. Although many of these early setters were of the Anglican faith, the majority had already joined the dissenting church. Lawrence Coughlan preached to all: Anglicans, Methodists and Roman Catholics. A book is available called "Blackfoots,"authored by Bert Parsons (available at Bethany United Church in Carbonear) and gives a complete history of the church since its inception in 1766.
Carbonear's oldest cemetery is situated on the North side of Carbonear Harbour, on a hillside slope which overlooks the town. Bordering Church Street, Lemarchant Street, and Masonic Avenue, this cemetery is presently the property of the United Church of Canada. All indications are that all three faiths were performing burials in the ground around the little chapel for a number of years as this was the only burial ground in Carbonear at the time. However, it is believed that burials by the Anglicans and Roman Catholics were also taking place at Harbour Grace and St. John's. Eventually this small chapel as well as the ancient burial ground and appurtenances were ceded to the Methodist Conference. Early records indicate that the Methodists had included this cemetery into their property by 1790.
In 1788, a new church was built to replace the first small chapel but burials continued in this cemetery by all faiths until around the year 1815 when both the Anglican and Roman Catholic congregations built their first churches in the Town of Carbonear and began their own cemeteries.
The markers and headstones of Bethany United Church Cemetery are varied and interesting. Over the passage of the years, grave markers such as wooden crosses have naturally disintegrated and smaller stones such as simple rocks have grown over or become impossible to read. Many of the early gravestones were brought from far away places like the West Country of England (Protestant) and Waterford, Ireland (Roman Catholic). Gravestones were not quarried in Newfoundland until 1830.
Some stones found in the Cemetery are: marble (usually white or grey), granite, slate, fieldstone, iron, and of course simple rock.
Bethany United Church cares for two cemeteries; one is located at Park Avenue on the south side of the town and was begun in 1873. Bethany Cemetery on the north side of the town began in 1765. Both are no longer in use as burial grounds today because a new Carbonear Interfaith Cemetery is now in use; ironically, the residents of three congregations in Carbonear are again sharing the same burial ground more than 240 years after they were doing the same thing when they began, back in 1768.
Hours Open: Year-round
Seasons Open: All Seasons
Time Period Represented: 1766 onward
Visitor Fees: N/A
This cemetery is accessible
Please keep pets leased and clean up after them.