History of St. George United Church

Early History

Methodism was first on the scene in 1831 followed by Presbyterianism the next year and finally in 1925 Union was achieved and the St. George United Church has been active ever since.

In those very early days when Methodism held sway, residents -- settlers if you will --around the Village of St. George were eager for religious experience and spiritual guidance.

So it was that in 1831, a circuit rider rode through bush country along a trail only a horse could follow, called on a few settlers, asked them to meet for a church service at Tykerts Schoolhouse, about a mile northeast of St. George, and the first Methodist services commenced in the district. A frame church was erected at the site of what is now the United Church Cemetery in about 1840. In 1867 with Rev. James Harris as pastor, the first organ was placed in the church. In 1869 the foundation stone of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, on Main Street, was laid and 10 years later came dedication of a new stone and white brick church.

The circuit rider mentioned earlier was Rev. G. Ferguson and his field of labour extended into the County of Waterloo. The St. George Circuit included St. George, Sheffield, Branchton, Tranquliity, Germans, Steel's, West's, and Harrisburg. Between 1867 and 1925, revival meetings and Camp meetings characterized early Canadian Methodism and, as far as the church itself was concerned, it seated 400, the men and women sitting on opposite sides of the sanctuary. Following Rev. James Harris there were a number of preachers with some conducting Union Evangelistic services around 1900.

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

It was in 1832 that the first divine service was conducted by Rev. William Proudfoot and two years later the first church was built on the site of Presbyterian Cemetary on High Street. In 1838 Rev. James Roy became the first pastor of St. George Church and in 1860, during the ministry of Rev. Robt. Hume, M.A., a new brick church was dedicated.

In 1864 the United Presbyterian Hymn Book was added to the Psalms in the service of praise. Two precentors had directed the singing. The first was R.Turnbull and later R. Rudell. Still later when an organ was introduced, the first organist was Miss R. Rudell. From 1885, when Rev. W.S. McTavish was pastor, up until the time of Union, there was great enthusiasm and the church prospered. The work of the women which had consisted mainly of choir, Sunday or Sabbath School and social gatherings, was greatly extended to encompass a Ladies' Aid Society, Women's Foreign Missionary Society and a Gordon Mission Band. In 1897, during the ministry of the much-loved Rev. D.Y. Ross, M.A., the Book of Praise was introduced.

In September 1904, the 70th anniversary of the organization of the St. George Presbyterian Church congregation was celebrated, and early in 1905, plans were taking shape for the building of the present church on Beverly Street. Two years later, when Rev. D.H. Marshall was pastor, the cornerstone of the Beverly Street church was laid by Hon. Wm Patterson, Federal Minister of Customs. A year later, the new church was opened and dedicated by the former pastor Rev. W.S. Mctavish. Miss Neil McKenzie who became Mrs. Cuthert Burt, was the first organist. In the last 17 years before Union, three ministers Rev. D.H. Marshall, Rev. C.D. Farquharson and Rev. A.0. Patterson occupied the Presbyterian Church pulpit, and each one contributed a great deal to the progress of the church and the welfare of its congregation.

THEN CAME UNION!

As early as 1902, Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists were talking Union across Canada. When it 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. The new Council following Union in 1925, included the moderator of the Presbyterian Assembly, Dr. George Pidgeon. For all practical purposes, it may be said all Methodists and all Congregationalists entered Union. The Presbyterian Church entered Union as a church, with 17/o of the congregation remaining outside Union.

In 1925, Rev. H.F. Deller became minister of the St.George United Church. It was a time of adjustment for both of the uniting churches, when they met to consider the methods of procedure, and elect the Session and boards of the church. The United Church congregation worshipped in the former Methodist Church on Main Street until 1929. In November of that year closing and opening services were held when the congregation moved to the renovated and newly decorated former Presbyterian Church on Beverly Street. The pipe organ was removed from the Methodist Church repaired and installed in the United Church. 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 1967 fire destroyed the 98-year-old church. which now remains just a memory.

APPOINTED IN 1929

The first official board appointed in 1929 follows: Chairman--Rev. J.L. Small.

Session--Messrs J. Cardy, F. Greenfield, T.R. Henderson, W.J. Little, E. Patrick, F.S. Robb, N.P. Sager and J.S. Switzer.

Stewards: H.C. Nixon, MPP, Chairman: Miss Morris, Secretary; Mrs. Addison, Mrs. Cornell, Mrs. Malcolm, Mr. Durham, Mr. Green, Mr. Homing, Mr. Howell, L. Kitchen, J.D. Malcolm, P. McPhatter, W. McGregor, H. Richards, W. Robb and J.A. Wait. Treasurer--J.W. Wait

Trustee Board: Chairman--J. D. Malcolm; Secretary-Treasurer: A.E. Green, and Messrs G. Durham, H. German, W. Howell, W.J. Little and H.R. Nixon. President. Women's Missionary Society--Mrs.J.L Small: President Ladies Aid Society--Mrs. A.W. Green; President of Choir--Mrs. E. Timanus; Representative of Cemetery Board and Chapel Steward--H.R. Nixon; Representative of Sunday School--R.E.W. Lawrason; President of Young People--Roger Howell, and Representative of Trustee Board-- Wm. N.Howell.

Ministers since 1925

Rev. H.F. Deller, 1925; Rev.J.L. Small, 1926; Rev. E.S. Moyer, 1994; Rev. W.D. McIntosh, 1941; Rev. E.L. Beech, 1947; Rev.. W.H. Pike, 1952; Rev.A.F. Gardner, ,1952; Rev E.C. Vaclavik,. 1957; Rev, A.E. Elliott, 1961, Rev.G.H. Hoult, 1967, Rev. Earla Currey, 1977 , Rev. Norman Penrose, 1980, Rev Phil Smith, 1981, Rev. Douglas Sly, Rev. Ernie Royle, and Rev. Lisa Deurloo

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