HALLELUJAH WEDDING (Bridge St. United Church)
“To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Hallelujah Wedding January 29, 1884.
“Captain Joe Ludgate, former member of Bridge St. Methodist Church, and Captain Nellie Ryerson, who opened the work of the Salvation Army in Belleville
“Ceremony performed by Reverend William Stacey in Bridge St. Church
“Presented by the Salvation Army Belleville Citadel February 5, 1984”
GPS co-ordinates: 44° 09’ 51.62” N 77° 22’ 51.81” W (44.16416667 -77.38083333)
Street location: 60 Bridge Street East at Church Street, Belleville
Historical background: Hallelujah Weddings were one of several distinct methods used by the early Canadian Salvation Army to inject aggressive and innovative (i.e. crowd-pleasing) evangelism into their rituals. The liveliness of these ceremonies appealed those who were bored of tired and jaded mainstream religions, following the advice of founder William Booth to “go to the people with the gospel.” The Army was known to put on a good show. Glory! Hallelujah!
In this particular case, the two-hour wedding of Captain Ludgate and Captain Ryerson attracted more than 1,000 people, each paying admission. Another 4,000 people gathered outside to cheer the couple on their way to a reception at the new city hall.
From the Belleville Salvation Army web site:
“Nellie Ryerson, 18-year-old daughter of a New Jersey preacher, converted to salvationism a mere 13 months earlier at the urging of Capt. Joe Ludgate, with probably not more than eight weeks preparation for officership, was appointed to take command of Belleville Corps with Lieutenant Emma Churchill. The Intelligencer of January 30, 1884 contained a lengthy account of that wedding, oddly enough held at Bridge St. Methodist Church (now Bridge St. United), since the Army of that day was recognized only as a movement, not a church, and officers were not ordained to perform legal marriages. Early friend of the Army, William Stacy, officiated.” (Web site, History of the Salvation Army in Belleville.
Click BELOW for a more complete history:
The plaque is mounted inside the church and is accessible only during church open hours.