History of St. Andrew’s United

A New “Preaching Place” in Georgetown

written by Jack Reed

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Jack Reed joined the Church in 1958 and became very active in many aspects of church functions. Later he wrote the Church’s history and with the help of Doug Magwood and Doug’s daughter Colleen, a booklet was issued at the Church’s 40th Anniversary in November 1998.

This page is dedicated to Jack and his family for the enormous amount of time they have spent on the Church’s history, that we may have it for future generations to come.

The following is a very condensed version of the original issue, for a suggested donation of $5.00 to the Church, contact us and we will mail a copy to you.

St. Andrew’s In the Beginning…

It all began with an exploratory meeting on Monday June 9, 1958, here in Georgetown:

“The first Annual Meeting of the St. Andrew’s United Church, Georgetown, constituted February 15, 1959, was held in the portable building at the property Mountainview Road and Sinclair Avenue, Georgetown on January 25, 1960. The meeting was chaired by Rev. Dr. Charles Donald. Thirty three members were in attendance.”

So begins the official history of St. Andrew’s, as the words above were taken from the church minute book. But to hold an Annual Meeting, something must have gone before. What had gone before was approximately a year of planning, followed by five months of services in Harrison Public School on Rexway Drive.

St. Andrew’s was conceived in the womb of St. John’s United Church, as a group of newcomers from the Delrex subdivision was encouraged to begin a new congregation in the east end of town. Rev. Morgan McFarlane, minister of St. John’s, conducted the exploratory meeting on Monday, June 9, 1958. Present were thirteen “members and adherents of St. John’s who were resident in that part of Georgetown east of Rexway. Rev. McFarlane explained that the premises at St. John’s were overcrowded, and that the Board of Session felt that the time was opportune to investigate the possibility of forming a new Church and Sunday School in the Delrex community. He said that the (Halton) Extension Council of the United Church had an option on two and a half acres of land, at a price of approximately $17,000.”

After much discussion, the decision was made to conduct a door-to-door canvass of the area. A Steering committee of five people, Milton Armstrong, Frank Bishop, Kelvin C. Brown, Gordon Hallitt, and Gaston Fantuz, was formed to carry out the preliminary work. Thanks to the excellent minutes kept by Frank Bishop, we have a complete record of that early planning period. Kelvin C. Brown chaired the steering committee.

Things moved quickly! Three days later, Halton United Church Extension Council agreed to buy the land on the south-east corner of Sinclair Avenue and Mountainview Road, plus five lots on Pennington Crescent for the future use of the new congregation. The new church would carry a mortgage of $8,000 …with interest of $300 due yearly. Eventually, two of the lots would be given to St. Andrew’s – one for the manse, and one to be sold to help finance the new sanctuary in 1984.

Rex Heslop, the developer of Rexdale in West Toronto, had purchased several farms on Georgetown’s eastern boundary in 1954. By 1958, he and his wife Delma and their two children –Marilyn and Rex Jr. – had moved into their brand oldstandrews_smlnew spacious home on Heslop Court. Rex wanted a church in his new subdivision, and became a strong supporter of the steering committee’s plans. Thus we find the Committee meeting in his office on June 23, 1958. The group had grandiose ideas, and a provisional building committee was formed to carry out a preliminary investigation into church design, seeking the assistance of the United Church Committee on Church Architecture. It was suggested that a suitable size would be a sanctuary to seat approximately four hundred, and an attempt should be made to put a price on the different stages of construction – basement – Sunday School – sanctuary. You must agree that this committee of three, Pearce Porter, Gus Fantuz, and Ted Evans had their work cut out for them! Thus was born the dream of a permanent church at the corner of Sinclair and Mountainview!

Like Topsy, the steering committee’s work grew as it met throughout the Summer and Fall of 1958 with the Board of Home Missions, the Halton Presbytery, the Halton Church Extension Council, and the Georgetown Public School Board. The Home Missions Board provided a student minister, Miss Eleanor Carr, to help with the door-to-door canvass in August. The School Board provided space in the corridors of Harrison Public School for Church and Sunday School services at a cost of $10.00 per Sunday. Chairs, a pulpit, the organ, and all other materials would have to be brought in each Sunday, and be removed by 4:30 P.M.

Halton Presbytery appointed as week-end supply to the new ‘preaching place’ in Georgetown, Mr. Alexander Blandford, B.A., a member of Woolastook Presbytery, New Brunswick. At that time, he was doing post-graduate work at the University of Toronto. Mr. Blandford’s salary was to be $20.00 per week, plus expenses.

Dr. E. Crossley Hunter, B.A., B.D., former minister of Trinity United Church in Toronto, agreed to be the guest speaker for the first service. Everything was in readiness for the new preaching place in Georgetown.

It was proposed by Mrs. M.P. Bishop, that since the opening services were to be held on St. Andrew’s Day, it was appropriate that the new church be called St. Andrew’s United Church. This was unanimously approved by the Steering Committee on November 11, 1958.

The Big Day was Sunday, November 30, 1958 – the very first service for St. Andrew’s United! The following account of the occasion appeared in the Georgetown Herald, the local newspaper.

The newly -formed St. Andrew’s United Church held its first church and Sunday School services November 30th in Harrison Public School, which will be used as temporary quarters until a church building is erected at the Mountainview Road and Sinclair Ave. corner. The church is Georgetown’s second United Church, and will serve the eastern area of town.

Detained by car trouble, Alexander Blandford, who will be student minister, was unable to arrive in time for Sunday’s service at which Dr. Crossley Hunter, Toronto, was guest minister. A congregation of over 100 heard Dr. Hunter express his pleasure at the local “pioneers” who have embarked on the challenging work of building a new church. Miss Margaret McFarlane, daughter of Rev. Morgan McFarlane, of St. John’s United, who is supervising pastor, was organist. The choir, directed by Mrs. Kelvin Brown, sang as an anthem:”Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us.”

Sunday’s church school attendance in all departments totalled over 90 boys and girls.

Heading the committee which is organizing the new church are Kelvin Brown, 15 Gibbons Place, as chairman, and Frank Bishop, 39 Norton Cresc., secretary. Mr. Blandford, a native of Australia, has been in Canada 4 1/2 years, during which time he has received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. Last winter he served in the Alberta – Alma charge in New Brunswick. At present he is studying at the University of Toronto, and next year intends continuing his theological course at Emmanuel College, Toronto.

Of all those who attended that initial service, I believe that only three couples are still active in St. Andrew’s – Marg and Glen Emerson, Lew and Sheila Ward, Ina and Jack Reed.

Young couples regularly pushed their baby carriages to the church nursery at the home of George and Helen Ventry. Veda and Milt Armstrong hosted the kindergarten class. Both homes were on Rexway Drive, near Harrison School. Since there was no gymnasium, the congregation met in the halls of the school. The student minister, Alex Blandford, stood at the corner where the two halls met near the Principal’s
office. Rev. Morgan McFarlane’s daughter, Margaret, played the hymns on a portable organ. It was a humble beginning for the young congregation, but hope and enthusiasm were high!

The Charter Roll…

The Charter Roll was opened on January 18, 1959, and contained the names of sixty-eight members. The last name to appear on the roll was that of Clara Wodhams. Clara, and husband, Norm, were faithful workers at St. Andrew’s until they moved to Goderich a few years ago.

On February 15, 1959, St. Andrew’s was constituted as a congregation and pastoral charge in a service at St. John’s United with Rev. Moir A. J. Waters, chairman of Halton Presbytery … and the Steering Committee’s work was done!

The new Official Board of St. Andrew’s took over, and immediately gave thanks to those who had worked so diligently to bring the new preaching place to reality:

These were:

  • Rev. Morgan McFarlane, St. John’s, who continued to be supervising pastor of St. Andrew’s, during the terms of the student ministers,
  • the members of the Steering Committee,
  • Halton Presbytery and Extension Council,
  • the Board of Home Missions, and
  • the congregation of St. John’s, which had donated $500 to the new church.

The Session of St. John’s, who presented a pulpit bible to St. Andrew’s on February 1, 1959, inscribed with the following words:

“On the occasion of St. John’s United Church saying farewell and praying God’s blessing upon a goodly number of members who went out from us to help organize the new congregation, St. Andrew’s Church in the Delrex Subdivision.”

The Portable Church…

During the summer months of 1959, the congregation worshipped in the Cedarvale School gymnasium, as they wished to continue to build on the strength they had achieved at Harrison School.

The summer of 1959 was a busy one at the corner of Sinclair and Mountainview!

The portable church was built by Zorge Construction in the Summer of 1959. These A-frame buildings were erected all over Canada by the Home Missions Board of the United Church of Canada. They could be seen in Oakville, Kitchener, P. E. I, and Manitoba. The Zorge Brothers , John and Fred , who were strong supporters of St. Andrew’s, helped to design the building. In 1959, there was little development south of Sargent Road. The little, white frame church stood alone in the fields of the former Cam Sinclair farm.

The dedication of the portable church was held on September 16, 1959, with Rev. Dr. Charles Donald B.A., B.D., D.D. conducting the service along with members of Halton Presbytery. Rev. Dr. Donald was a retired minister who had served as a missionary to India from 1915 to 1931. He and his wife, Fannie, drove up from Oakville each Sunday to take an active role in the life of St. Andrew’s. We were spoiled by Dr. Donald’s great sermons, as he called upon his many experiences in India to preach the gospel.

Rev. Dr. Charles Donald preaches first sermon in the portable church September 16, 1959

One of our very faithful members, David Taylor, worked on the construction of the portable church. David remembers some of the adventures involved in building the church. “We had many adventures during the construction, and one little incident which I would like to forget was on the day before the dedication service was held in the new portable building. We were cleaning up, and putting the final touches to the building when I splashed white paint over the Reverend Donald’s very elaborate gown, which he had hung in the small office. I snuck it into the washroom to scrub it with varsol. Next morning, as we stood for the processional. I noticed people were sniffing the Reverend Doctor as he passed down the aisle. I’m telling this now, as I hope the statute of limitations will protect me against any libel by next of kin.”

U.C.W. Begins…

On January 10, 1962, the inaugural meeting of the St. Andrew’s U.C.W. was held in the Board Room of the church, with Rev. Ewart Madden presiding. There were 35 ladies present. Ella Allan read the slate of officers. The President was Mrs.. B Maier; the Vice-Presidents were Mrs. Ella Allan and Mrs. Veda Armstrong. Ina Reed was to be in charge of ordering flowers. Alice Greenaway was publicity convenor. Mrs. Florence Baker was to be presbytery representative, along with Mrs. Madden. Mrs. Sheila Ward moved that the slate of officers be accepted.

This was the beginning of many years of faithful service by the U.C.W. of St. Andrew’s. As one looks back over their minute books and scrap books, the strength of this organization is evident. They held fashion shows, ice-cream socials, whist parties, bus trips, pot-luck suppers, rummage sales, bazaars, and even “hard-times” parties.Some oft-mentioned names from those early years are: Mrs. G. Rea, Mrs. N. Wodhams, Mrs. M. Brigden, Mrs. G. Rodgers, Mrs. T. Rogers, Mrs. R. Ackroyd, Mrs. A. Holder, Mrs. D. Baker, Mrs. A. Skilling, Mrs. D. Taylor, and Mrs. K. McLeish. With a history like this it’s no wonder that the U.C.W. is still active today.

 

Starting the new Church…

Another sanctuary building committee was formed under the leadership of Arlene Callaghan in 1983, and Doug Magwood in 1984. The 1983 committee decided upon the needs of the congregation. The 1984 committee carriechurch 84d out the plans to build the church. Under the leadership of Rev. Bandy, the church was able to secure financing from a variety of sources including: sale of debentures, bank loan, United Church of Canada mortgage, grant from Dufferin-Peel Extension, and local offerings. The architectural firm of Brown, Beck, and Ross was hired to draw up the plans for the sanctuary. D. Bourke Construction, Maple, Ontario tendered the lowest price and won the contract to construct St. Andrew’s. The sanctuary was built during the Summer and Fall of 1984, with completion in early 1985.

The members of those 1983/84 sanctuary building committees were: Bruce Allworth, Ron Fuller, Anne Marie Goetz, Elaine Hannah, Ron Lovegrove, Doreen Merrill, Lorne MacLeod, Dick Shannon, Jack Pickup, Bill King, Linda King, Bert Burns, Al Martin, and Jack Robertson. Our treasurer at that time was Jim Burwell, who had been through a similar building program in Clarkson. Jim was of great assistance in budgeting and providing strong leadership on the Finance committee and the Charge Council from 1982 to 1993.

 

St. Andrew’s finally had its real church…

St. Andrew’s finally had its real church, with a pulpit, communion table, tri-chair, baptismal font and cross. With its comfortable offices, vestry room, and kitchenette, the new church on ground level was a dream come true for long time members. The dedication service was conducted by Rev. Dr. T.G. Bandy on April 28, 1985.

To the left, with the cross, is the Christian development building, and going towards the right in the center is the lower office area. The round building to the right is the Sanctuary.

The sudden departure of Rev. Joe Smiley in the Fall of 1995 left St. Andrew’s reeling! Some members left the church, but most weathered the storm of controversy and distrust. Fortunately, St. Andrew’s had two members who could step into the pulpit and lead the congregation. Rev. Wendy Hansuld, originally a candidate for the ministry from St. Andrew’s, willingly accepted the challenge of preaching in her home church. Sue Cowan, an unordained minister and long-time soprano soloist in the choir agreed to preach some Sundays as well. The congregations of both St. Andrew’s and Ballinafad were well served by these two preachers until Dufferin-Peel Presbytery appointed a retired minister, Rev. Dr. Howard Pentland, to the role of interim minister. Howard had many years of experience in his ministry, having served in a number of charges throughout Canada.

Howard spoke to the congregation with candour and sincerity like a grandfather urging on his grandchildren to a greater and better life. Howard was Dr. Donald re-visited, but without the snow-white hair! He particularly liked to tell the children’s story, and usually did so with ease and conviction. However, Howard had the trustees checking the fire insurance policy and the fire extinguishers on the Sunday he had the children running around the church with Victoria Day sparklers ablaze in their hands! Grant Greenaway was afraid their light might shine a little too brightly!

On the Upward Track Again

During the Spring and Summer of 1996, a Pastoral Relations Committee from St. Andrew’s and Ballinafad searched for a new minister. Rev. Ross Leckie accepted a call, and began his ministry in October of 1996. Ross, his wife Rev.Jean Leckie, and their three children Laura, Karen, and John moved here from North Bay. With a family back in the manse on Pennington, repairs and upgrading were necessary! The manse committee, led by Joan Lovegrove, did an excellent job of making the manse more liveable for the Leckie family. Ron Lovegrove and Dave Krout from Ballinafad did a great deal of work in the manse, saving the congregation the costs of a contractor.

Jean, Laura, Karen, and John have been very active in the life of the church as well, helping with the Sunday School, Junior Choir, and C.G.I.T.

Ross immediately got to work visiting families in their homes and leading the various committees in their work. With aging congregations interspersed with young families from new subdivisions, leading St. Andrew’s-Ballinafad is not an easy job! There is a constant need to balance the old with the new! There are funerals and baptisms, weddings and confirmations! And, as usual at St. Andrew’s, there is always the need for money! St. Andrew’s came into this world kicking and scratching for funds. Here we are forty years later, still kicking and scratching, but very much alive!

Under the leadership of Rev. Leckie, the work of the various committees of the Official Board has been revitalized. New faces are gradually replacing those of members who have moved away. Things are on an upward swing again in the late 90’s.

No history of St. Andrew’s would be complete without mention being made of our “support staff”. The facilities have to be maintained on a daily, on-going basis. Our first caretaker, Bob Bradley, was a member of the church Board who looked after the portable church as if it were his own home. Over the last two decades, Fred Porter and his family have diligently and competently maintained St. Andrew’s at a very high standard of care.

Another stalwart of the church’s operation has been our Charge Secretary, Nancy Thompson. Nancy has carried out her responsibilities with tremendous dedication and energy. At the same time she, along with her husband, Graeme, are faithful, hard-working members of the congregation. Although both staff positions of custodian and secretary are part-time positions, both Fred and Nancy have always carried out their responsibilities with enviable professionalism and efficiency.

Travel down any street in the eastern end of the town and local areas, and you’ll find families whose lives have been touched by St. Andrew’s United Church! If we had not been there, who knows what might have happened. But St. Andrew’s WAS there! There to make a difference in the lives of so many people over the past forty years! May it continue to do so for years to come, so that when the celebration for one hundred and forty years is held, people will say” ‘ That new preaching place in Georgetown‘ builded better than they knew!”

We can be proud of our accomplishments over the past forty years. St. Andrew’s has a church building all on one floor which is the envy of many in Georgetown. Our manse is in excellent condition, and debt free. Our Christian Education Hall is well maintained and in constant use. Materially, St. Andrew’s has done well!

Harder to measure is the impact that St. Andrew’s has had on the community over the past forty years. Perhaps the best way to gauge our success is to look at the number of families in the Georgetown area who have, over the years, made use of our services.

Many things have happened at St. Andrew’s over the last forty years. It ‘s been a long, winding trail out of St. John’s , to Harrison Public School in 1958, to the portable church, and finally to the comfortable warmth of St. Andrew’s in 1998. Many people have come and gone. But the warmth of friendly people who welcomed us to that first service so long ago has survived all the changes, and continues to be one of our strongest assets. Rod Goetz said it well in his 1984 report as Chairperson of the Official Board. “When our family joined St. Andrew’s in 1980, we were inspired by the church…not the building, but the people…I hope the spirit of our church will remain the same.”

One symbol of the church of 1959 remains. For in the north end of the “portable” was a lighted cross, visible from the street. As one rounded the corner at Sinclair, the cross of St. Andrew’s “in the field” was always visible. That early cross has been re-created on the north and east sides of the Christian Education Centre, in the flowerbeds, and of course in the sanctuary of our new church. Let us never lose sight of it! For it is a symbol of our faith in Jesus Christ and his people – the people of St. Andrew’s.

Another sanctuary building committee was formed under the leadership of Arlene Callaghan in 1983, and Doug Magwood in 1984. The 1983 committee decided upon the needs of the congregation. The 1984 committee carried out the plans to build the church. Under the leadership of Rev. Bandy, the church was able to secure financing from a variety of sources including: sale of debentures, bank loan, United Church of Canada mortgage, grant from Dufferin-Peel Extension, and local offerings. The architectural firm of Brown, Beck, and Ross was hired to draw up the plans for the sanctuary. D. Bourke Construction, Maple, Ontario tendered the lowest price and won the contract to construct St. Andrew’s. The sanctuary was built during the Summer and Fall of 1984, with completion in early 1985.

The members of those 1983/84 sanctuary building committees were: Bruce Allworth, Ron Fuller, Anne Marie Goetz, Elaine Hannah, Ron Lovegrove, Doreen Merrill, Lorne MacLeod, Dick Shannon, Jack Pickup, Bill King, Linda King, Bert Burns, Al Martin, and Jack Robertson. Our treasurer at that time was Jim Burwell, who had been through a similar building program in Clarkson. Jim was of great assistance in budgeting and providing strong leadership on the Finance committee and the Charge Council from 1982 to 1993.

 

The Next Chapter in the History of St. Andrew’s

In 2003 Rev. Ross and Jean Leckie said farewell to the St. Andrew’s community after 7 years of faithful service to the church. In 2003-2004 we were served by a supply minister from the United States by the name of Kent Fromer. Kent continued to keep St. Andrew’s alive and well as St. Andrew’s searched for a new permanent minister.

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In September 2004 Rev. Grant Williams began his ministry with St. Andrew’s. In short time Grant got to work and revitalizing the congregation and bring new ideas to our community. Grant offered leadership to a new Small Group faith study called Alpha, he offered leadership for new and improved Stewardship campaign and he developed a leadership team to run a Vacation Bible School Program during the summers. Each year St. Andrew’s offers a program for  more than 100 children and youth in the community. This is one of the most successful Outreach programs in the community.DSCN3039

 

 Also, during Grant’s tenure he helped to develop a new blended style of worship service. Regularly on Sunday mornings we offer Multimedia presentations and a wider range of contemporary and traditional music. We also regularly have a variety of instruments, including guitars and drums.

 

Throughout the 2000’s we developed a plan for building a new Senior’s affordable housing building on the property. Since 2000 a planning committee worked hard and determined that there was a need for Senior’s affordable housing. In 2008, we received the final local municipal and government approvals, as well as the Grant money to proceed with the building construction. In May of 2009 the ground was broken and the building was finally being built. The building was opened to the first residents in December of 2010.

 

 At the same time as the new Senior’s building was built, the St. Andrew’s congregation decided it was time to update some areas in the church building. A committee was struck and we renovated the kitchen, lower hall and all our Sunday school classrooms. All of the work was completed by dozens of volunteers in the congregation. The work was coordinated by Rev. Grant Williams, who happened to have a background in building construction and renovations. This proved to be valuable as it saved the congregation thousands of dollars in fundraising.

 

In the year 2010 Grant went on a Sabbatical leave and the pulpit was filled by a very capable Intern minister by the name of Alexa Gilmour. Alexa was the first of four student ministers to have served St. Andrew’s. St. Andrew’s now sees itself as a teaching congregation and a place of learning for future ministers. Other Student ministers include Anita Rowland in 2011-2012, Brenda McCurdy in 2013 and Sula Anne Kosacky. Each of these student ministers have helped the congregation continue to grow and thrive in Georgetown.