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Leaves Shadow

History of St. George United Church

Methodist Church

In 1831 a Methodist circuit rider, Rev. G. Ferguson, rode through bush country to call on a few early settlers, and the first Methodist service was conducted at Rykerts Schoolhouse, northeast of the village. A preaching plan, dated 1850, was headed ''Dumfries Circuit Wesleyan Methodist Preacher's Plan'', and listed appointments in twelve places, including St. George, Sheffield, Branchton, Tranquillity, German's School, Steel's School, West's and Harrisburg.

A frame church was erected at the site of what is now the United Church Cemetery in about 1840. It was a large frame building which, seated about 400 people, with men and women sitting on opposite sides of the sanctuary. In 1867, the first organ was placed in the Methodist Church, and plans for a new building were begun.

On Sept. 10th, 1869 the foundation stone of the Wesleyan Methodist Church was laid. It was built in the heart of the village on a lot given by Brother R. Snowball, on Main Street where the Legion Hall now stands. It was of stone and white brick, and was 70 ft. by 44 ft. wide, with a gallery on three sides and orchestra in the rear.  A revivalist ''Camp Meeting'' was held on the farm owned by Mr. George Cornell in the same year, and Revival Services were held during the pastorate of the Rev. D. E. Brownell in 1874.

Pew stewards were appointed and rent received for the family pews until the practice ended in 1919.

Among the early Recording Stewards and Board members were many familiar family names – Nixon, Wait, Howell, Kitchen, German, Wood, Rosebrugh, Sager, Lawrason, Robb, Cardy, Charlton.

By the time of Union in 1925 the church was flourishing.  The Epworth league had 88 members and the Sunday School was thriving and had an orchestra.  The W.M.S. (Woman’s Missionary Society) has 64 members.  They supported a girl in Kitimat, B.C., and sent canned fruit to the Deaconess’ Home in Hamilton.  Forty-one pairs of hand knitted mittens and $15 in cash were sent to an Indian Institute in Sardis, B.C.

Presbyterian Church

Before church union in 1925 there is almost a century of history of Presbyteriattism in St. George.

After 1830 ministers came directly from Scotland. In 1832 Rev. Proudfoot and Rev. Christie conducted the first Presbyterian services in the St. George area in a little log schoolhouse one mile west of the village.

In 1834 a frame building (cost $650) was erected where the Pioneer Cemetery now stands. There were 12 members. In 4 years’ time they had 24 members and regular attendance of 80-100 for worship.  

In 1838 Rev. James Roy became the first minister. Rev. Roy died in 1852 when he fell from his horse. For 8 years they had no pastor until Rev. Robert Hume worked faithfully for a period of 24 years.

In 1861 a new brick church was erected, and a red brick manse was built across from the church. This church was built on land owned by the Howell family and the inner walls of their house were built using the white bricks from the old church. The old velour collection bags with their long handles were saved and are now in our Memorial Room. The first organist was Miss R. Rudell.

In 1885 Rev. W. S. McTavish was inducted as pastor.  The work of the women widened to a Ladies' Aid Society, a Women's Foreign Missionary Society, and a Gordon Mission Band. Rev. McTavish resigned in 1895 and was followed by Rev. D. Y. Ross, M.A.

In 1897 the Book of Praise was introduced.

In 1904 the 70th anniversary was celebrated. And in early 1905 initial plans laid for the present church building. In December 1905 Rev. Ross, who was greatly loved by his congregation died. Hence, a memorial window was placed in his memory.

In 1906 Rev. D.H. Marshall, M.A. was inducted as pastor. In July 1907, the cornerstone. of the present church was laid by the Honorable William Patterson, Minister of Customs, Ottawa.

On February 9, 1908, the new church opened and was dedicated by former pastor Rev, W. S. McTavish. The home presently occupied by the Andre family on Main Street stood originally on the church site. The house was occupied by Dr. Robinson, veterinarian, and his family. It was moved to its present site and the church sheds from the white church were moved to the Beverly St. site.

For 17 years, before church union, Rev. D.H. Marshall, Rev. C.D. Farquharson and Rev. A. Patterson occupied the pulpit. Rev. Marshall remained as pastor until 1912 and was personally involved with the building of the church and the burning of the mortgage. Rev. Farquharson came on graduation from Knox College Toronto and enjoyed 8 years in St. George. In 1920 Rev. A.O. Patterson was inducted and he remained until 1925, and church union. The original manse was sold and the church purchased the red brick manse on west Street. Rev. Patterson was instrumental in organizing the summer union services which continued for over seventy years.

United Church

The Union was finally consummated on June 10, 1925, a great communion service was held in an arena in Toronto with 7,646 worshippers receiving communion and Church Union was hallowed. Rev. George Pidgeon, Moderator of the Presbyterian Assembly, was elected Moderator. All Methodists and all Congregationalists entered the Union. The Presbyterian Church entered Union as a church with 17% of the congregations remaining out.

Rev. H.F. Deller was called to St. George in 1925. The United Church congregation worshipped in the former Methodist Church (Main St.) until 1929. In November the congregation moved to the renovated and newly decorated former Presbyterian Church (Beverly St.). The pipe organ was removed, repaired and installed in the United Church at a cost of $285.00. The Methodist Church which was erected in 1869 was taken over by Sunny Hill Dairy and in 1964 the St. George Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion purchased and renovated the building, but in October 1967 fire destroyed the 98 year old church.

Rev. J.L. Small was called in 1926 and remained as minister for 8 years. Summer services were held jointly with the Baptists. 73 men and women went into the armed services from St. George United Church homes. Six made the supreme sacrifice: James Broddy, Calder Cleland, Edward Hodson, Jackson Nixon, William Reid and Stuart Shantz.

In 1931 Junior Congregation was started and later a nursery.

In 1934 Rev. Moyer was called to our congregation. He came from Smithville.

Rev. McIntosh came in 1941 and remained until 1947. The organ was rebuilt by Franklin Legge Organ Co., Toronto and dedicated in 1943. 1n 1946 the church sanctuary was decorated. New chairs were purchased for the Sunday School which had enrollment of 230.

Rev. Eugene Beech came in July 1947 when membership totaled 343 with 205 families on the role. Choir gowns of black silk with white collars were donated and a storage cupboard installed in the choir room.

ln 1951 new lights were installed in the sanctuary and dedicated in memory of Dr. E. J. Gordon by his family. Rev. Beech terminated his ministry in December 1951. Rev. Pike was interim minister and while the parsonage was vacant it was renovated. The cost was $7,500.00 Rev. Arthur Gardner accepted a call in 1952 and was inducted in July. A vacation school was started and continued each summer for a number of years. The ''Every Family'' plan for subscribing to the United Church observer was begun. A new oil furnace was installed and banquet tables made.

In 1955 the church sanctuary was decorated and a new red carpet laid.

In July 1957 Rev. H.C. Vaclavik, B. Comm., B. Th. began his ministry with us. Plans were made for the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Presbyterian and Methodist churches. Former ministers Rev. Marshall, Rev. Farquharson (conducted the morning service) and Rev. Vaclavik (conducted the evening service), and Miss Adera Campbell, organist and choir director lead in the ministry of music.

Rev. Albert Elliott was called in 1961 and inducted in July. In 1962 the Inaugural Service of the United Church Women (UCW) was held. The new curriculum was introduced in the Sunday School.

September 22, 1963 - Ground breaking service for the new Christian Education Building. Rev. Elliott, Bill Taylor and Mrs. Geraldine Parkhill officiated. Mr. Herbert German broke the ground. In December the date stone laying service was held following Sunday morning worship. Rev. Elliott, Mr. Bill Taylor, Sr. and Mr. Doug Farrell took part. In 1963 a house was bequeathed to the congregation by the late Mrs. Fred Garnett to be used as a manse in memory of her late former husband Harry Freeman. It was completely renovated, and open house held on November 20, 1963. Our former manse was sold.

On February 16, 1964, the Christian Education Building was dedicated by Dr. O.P Hessie, President of Hamilton Conference. Dr. Hessie delivered the sermon and Mrs. Sandra Gray led the choir in musical numbers appropriate to the occasion. Greetings from Presbytery were brought by Rev. A.I. Waters.

A Centennial Service of worship was held on June 19, 1967 when many organizations and service clubs worshipped together. The combined choirs of the 3 churches sang ''The Centennial Anthem''. Rev. Gordon Hoult succeeded Rev. Elliott in 1967. A community Fellowship Group was formed and met for many years. The Couples Club had a program of fellowship and service and a Pancake Supper was a special event.  In 1969 they had a booth at the International Ploughing Match. Money raised provided green velvet curtains for the C.E. building. There were many special programs for young people of different age groups: C.G.I.T., Explorers, Mission Band, Baby Band, Cradle Roll Department, Tuxis Boys, Trail Rangers, Cubs, Tyro Boys and Young Peoples Union. Most of the groups held weekly meetings. The ''Open Door'' newsletter was published in 1967 and continued for many years.

1969 - A new structure for the Official Board was set up. The four commissions were: Ministry & Worship, Stewardship, Maintenance, and Christian Education, with a chairperson for each commission.

1970 - The mortgage on the Christian Education Building was burned. A new parking lot was purchased and graveled and the driveway at the west side was paved.

1972 -The 140th Anniversary was celebrated. New hymn books were dedicated and P.A. system installed. The first photo directory was printed with a history resume.

1973 - Rev. Hoult was the captain of the young people who were the crew for the musical ''Anchors Aweigh''. This presentation was enjoyed by young and old. The ''Meals on Wheels'' project was launched in our villiage and continued for many years with the other churches taking their turn.

1974 -Two of our young people, Janet Bush and Glen Grandine, decided to go into full time church work and we are proud of their commitment. Junior choir members appeared on Tiny Talent Time, CHCH--TV Hamilton. Weekly services were held at Sunnyside Nursing Home.

1975 -To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada an outdoor service was held at Cockshutt Park in Brantford. Many from the St. George area attended. An electric organ was presented by the Quilter’s Group for use in the church parlor.

1976 - The ''Singing Christmas Tree'' was first presented by the choir and was an outstanding success. The tree was built of wood and designed to fill the choir loft. It was covered with greenery and· Christmas lights were placed among the evergreen. Choir members stood on the various levels and presented the Christmas music. This presentation was very effective and was repeated for 2 or 3 years under the direction of Ray Dawdy, our organist, and other musicians. It was great to be part of those presentations.

1977 - 145th Anniversary ''Singspiration'' a musical presentation with the combined choirs from the Baptist & United Churches was enjoyed. Rev. Earla Currey was interim minister at that time.

1978 - Rev. Penrose began his pastorate. Sermons were taped and delivered to shut ins weekly.

I 979 - The Sunday School presented the Operetta “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat”. The UCW baked pies for the Lions Horse Show as a fundraiser.  The Sr. Choir presented ''Country Capers'' a musical which was weII received.

1980 - We had a special service for the 200th birthday of World Sunday School. Rev. Philip Smith was our interim minister .

1981 -The Youth Choir presented a skit "Cool in the Furnace''. Through a bequest the Bell Tower was renovated to provide a room for our historical memorabilia. Rev. Sly was called to our congregation.

1982 - Our 150th Anniversary guest speaker was the Moderator, Rev. Clarke McDonald. Music was presented by the New Hamburg Bell Ringers and guest soloists. The Brant Belle-A-Dears, a ladies choral group; put on an evening of music. Another special event was a musical with singers and actors (our own ladies and men) "Blessings & Blossoms" a program of local talent. 1982 was the 20th anniversary of United Church Women and our UCW hosted Erie Presbytery UCW Annual Meeting. This was an afternoon and evening meeting with a banquet at suppertime.

1983 - The stained-glass window ''The Prodigal Son'' was dedicated in memory of Mr. & Mrs. Hugh Mitten. Rev. A. E. Elliott was named Minister Emeritus.

1984 - The women of our church enjoyed a ''Mother and Daughter Banquet''. A new gas furnace was installed at the manse.

1985 - It was the 60th  Anniversary of the United Church of Canada and our own 153rd Anniversary. We hosted Canada World Youth Participants.

1986 - Rev. Wm. Gibb and Rev. Gordon HouIt served as interim ministers. The ''Odd & Sods'' group was started.

1987 - The UCW disbanded however, the women continued to be involved in all aspects of church organizations. A new Constitution was accepted by the Official Board. We held our first annual auction sale and new front steps and sidewalk were laid.

1988 - First ecumenical Advent Candlelight Service. The roof on the C.E. Building was replaced with a steel peaked roof. Mr. Jerry Jackson, a former member, was guest speaker for anniversary.

1989 -Thirty new members joined our congregation through Baptism, Confirmation and Transfer. New roof paid for and east driveway re-graded, new gas line laid and drams repaired. Joint ecumenical services were held during Holy Week. A spring concert by the Brant Belle-A-Dear's and Brant Men of Song was enjoyed.

1990 - New pews were installed in the sanctuary with funding through memorial donations. A plaque on the rear wall names all the persons in whose memory they were given. Service of Dedication and Homecoming was held in October.

1991 - Anniversary Choir Reunion. Frank & Adera Holton provided the music and Sharon Wittich was guest soloist. Rev. E. Royle was chairperson of our Presbytery.

1992 - 160th Anniversary. The original slate roof of the sanctuary was removed and replaced with steel. We received an award from “Friends of World Heritage Grassroots'' for preserving our church building. Cheryl Spragg became our new organist and choir director. We had a new photo directory printed, new green service books were dedicated, and a cookbook was printed.

1993 - Visitation to all church families. New burgundy Senior Choir gowns were purchased. The Jr. Choir under the direction of Cheryl Spragg placed first in Kiwanis Music Festival. A Foodgrain project was undertaken with other urban and rural churches.

1994 - Fellowship Committee presented a lovely vase and gift certificate for a rose bush to Harold and Isabel Brubacher in recognition of their outstanding service as the church custidians.

1995 - Ian Clark began his time with us as our new organist and choir director.  Rev. Lisa Deurloo began her ministry with us. Her first service was in August She and her husband have an 18 month old son Pieter.

1996 - Rev. Glen McPherson was our interim minister while Rev. Deurloo was on maternity leave (May-July 1996). Our picnic was held at the Hunter Hoodless Homestead. Pre-authorized Givings were begun (P.A.R.) and Bridge & Euchre Luncheons were begun. The June 9th Anniversary service was led by Rev. Cecil and ·Mrs. Wittich.

1997 - The Youth Group (ChYPS) decorated their own room and sold perogies to help pay for their summer camp.  An Interfaith Bible Study Group started meeting on Monday mornings under the leadership of Betty Howell and Colleen Stolp. The Church picnic was held at Five Oaks, and a tri-chruch Vacation Bible School was held.

1998 - Rev. Lisa Deurloo left to take up a full-time position with the Canadian Armed Forces. Rev Mary Bish began her two-year interim ministry, a special ministry designed to take the congregation through a time of change. A Food Grains lunch was held raising money to plant corn at Ross Ilett's farm.

1999 - A new constitution was completed, combining the Session and the Board in to a Church Council. Vaughn Stewart was guest speaker at a ''Jubilee'' worship service. A ''Hats Off to Spring” fashion show was held.

2000 - The Village Play School began a daycare operation in the lower basement with Cindy Neily and Carol Payne in charge. We held a beef dinner in April and a Resource Library was established with books and tapes for loan.  Jeff Wright went to Nicaragua. We said our goodbyes to Rev. Mary Bish, Interim Minister, and welcomed Rev. Allan Warren to our congregation. A Christmas Cantata, ''Love's Pure Light'' was presented. Monthly Euchre & Bridge Luncheons began. We recognized the 75th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada and 150 copies of the new hymnary, ''Voices United'' were placed in the sanctuary.

2001 - Fourteen persons joined our church and the Christ Candle was donated by Phyllis Lydan. The Sunday School, whose average attendance was 20-30, put on a Christmas pageant on Dec. 9th and on Dec. 16th we held our first Blue Christmas Service. A Christmas Cantata "Let Us Adore· Him'' was presented. We had a float in the Santa Claus Parade. On Good Friday and December 30th, joint services were held with the Anglican and Baptist congregations. A Moms & Tots group met every Thursday morning. Doug Stephens built dollies for chair storage under the stage. Guests for our 169th  Anniversary service were the Eden United Church Bell Choir (bells & music). Other events throughout the year included an outdoor service at Five Oaks Centre with a picnic and games, a car rally, pancake supper, progressive supper and a bowling event.

2002 - The best image our church family is expressed through parents and children heading off in different directions with varied activities and interests i.e.: Sparks, Pathfinders, Meals on Wheels, a Seniors' Drop-in Centre, Bridge & Euchre Luncheons, Youth Dances, Diabetes Education, Bible Study, Sunday School, Choir, and regular Sunday worship.

The Honorable Jane Stewart spoke at our 170th Anniversary.  Also an outdoor service and picnic was held at Five Oaks. The congregation is working towards kitchen upgrades, accessibility, and restoration of the stained glass windows. Fundraisers have been a Vintage Hat Fashion Show & Dessert event, Apple Fest and roast beef dinners, and Hot Dog Sundays are very popular. Under Carol Steedman's leadership an anniversary Special Cookbook was printed and sold out. Brenda (Tansley) Smith is the Sunday School coordinator and Karen Mitchell plans special events. One of the greatest  concerns is the deterioration of the stained glass windows and the need for restoration.

We are grateful that the Buchanan family has offered to support this endeavour in memory of their parents, Harold & Flossie Buchanan. The decision was made to sell the manse. We support two foster children as well as several Mission & Outreach concerns. The old, original Methodist Church Bible has been restored and presented by Bob Taylor.

2003 - In June we said goodbye to Office Administrator Betty McEwan and organist Gordon Allgeier, whose gift of music we have enjoyed for over 7 years. A September hayride and corn roast at the Jones' farm was enjoyed by many. Other special events included a Chili/Movie night and a Progressive Dinner in February. Upgrading to the kitchen was completed and the plaque recognizing funding in memory of the late Ross Sager was dedicated on April 20, 2003. In October four new members were inducted.   The ''Beads of Hope'' campaign was presented by the Mission & Outreach Committee and Jessie Barker created a beautiful banner bearing the logo. The Advent wreath was created by Amy Jones and on Dec. 14th, the choir presented a Cantata. On Christmas Eve we held a traditional service and joined in the community service on Dec. 28th at the Anglican Church. Shut-ins and those in hospital received a visit and a Christmas plant and were offered communion. Heather Adams looked after the Nursery schedule, Brenda Smith was Sunday School Coordinator (recruits teachers and hall monitors), with Karen Mitchell in charge of special events (Christmas Pageant and hot dog Sundays). We supported the food bank and Nova Vita.

2004 - In January we had a special time to recognize our area firefighters and congratulate them on the great service they provide. An Easter sunrise service took place at Mr. & Mrs. Lorne Fair's home and it was well attended.  Rev. Mary Bish was our guest for the 172nd Anniversary and our annual picnic was held at the Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Homestead; In July a Baptism Service was held and 7 children were christened. In September a special service was held recognizing the Women's Institute for their contribution in many areas of the community. On October 3 we celebrated World Wide Communion and later m the month we held Part II of Visioning Day. On November 7th the service included: Baptism of seven children. On November 14 we had a Scout Parade recognizing the Scouts and Guides. Advent began on November 28 and the first candle was lit on the Advent wreath created by Amy Bradley. Dec. 8 was White Gift Sunday and the following Sunday the choir presented a Cantata. Christmas Eve Service included communion. We commenced sharing our building with Grace Free Reform Church as we live out our desire to be a ''warm and welcoming community of faith''. The play “Our Choirs the Pitts'' was a great time of fellowship and laughter. The Christmas Bazaar took on a new look and attendance was overwhelming. Jennifer Mullin supplied as organist from Feb. to May and Adera Holton and Susan Campbell were organists in the interim until Brien Thurston started in October. The parking lot has been improved and access through the west entrance is being controlled. We  had a speaker from Food Grains project and food donations and monetary donations were received. Brenda McDonald was hired as custodian and is doing s superb job. Cliff Jones will be Chairperson of Church Council in 2005 and June Hibbert volunteered to be Vice-Chair.

2005 - Eight families Joined the church during the year and we continue to invite friends and neighbours to special events and worship services. A Bible Study group averaged 11 in attendance for a 10-week study. The teens began a Confirmation Class focusing on the Bible which started with the ''Journey to Bethlehem'' at Five Oaks and ended on Easter Sunday. Our St. George Players put on a lively show entitled ''Is There a Doctor in the House?'' We were disappointed that we could not hold our traditional roast beef suppers but congratulate the folks who put extra effort into the Christmas Country Market. The relationship with Providence Free Reform Church has worked well. They are now using the sanctuary for two services on Sunday and some classrooms on Tuesday for Bible Study. We welcomed Shirley Rushton as our new church secretary.

2006 - With eight young people joining our church on Easter Sunday it was a wonderful service to begin another year. The 175th Anniversary committee met monthly to plan a host of events for the coming year (2007). September, we welcomed Richard Phillips as organist and choir director. Our thanks go to Susan Campbell and Adera Holton for filling in as interim organists during the spring and summer months.  Family pictures for the Photo Directory were taken and the aprons and t-shirts sporting our ''Let Your Light Shine'' logo were sold at the ''Remember When'' fall bazaar. We want to make sure that the whole community knows we are celebrating 175 years of faith and hope, as our banner on the front of the church says ''175 Years & Beyond ..... " The fire escape from the second floor of the C.E. Building was completed. In December the Council went to an enjoyable evening at Rev. Art Tobey's farm to see the Christmas decorations. A new sound system was installed in the Fellowship Hall.

2007 -- We supported a children's soccer team and donated a new communion set to the Burford congregation whose church was burned. Our organ received some necessary repairs and an organ recital by Shawn Grenke was held in March. Scott Woods, Canadian Fiddle Champion, presented a lively evening of fiddle music, and "A Day in Paradise (just slightly east of Eden)'', written by Eleanor Wood, was performed by St. George United Community Players. A new floor was laid in the Memorial Room, and the display cases were refinished. Lois Burke retired after six years as our secretary of Church Council, and Brad Adams took her place. A fireproof safe was purchased to keep old records and archives protected from sun or fire. Restoration of the Rose Window has been completed in time for re-dedication at our Anniversary Service. A mural depicting the history of our congregation has been created by Doris Bishop and Isabel Brubacher and mounted on the wall of the sanctuary vestibule, and a beautiful signature quilt has been designed by Jessie Barker and hung on the wall of the sanctuary.

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