Erie Street Church

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The first Methodist Church services and Sunday school were held in the log cabin of John Scane who settled on the Ridge Road, in 1822. He brought a number of Bibles from England and his thoughts were to preach the gospel and administer to the sick and dying; two of these Bibles dating back to August 10, 1764, are the prized possessions of the family of the late Charles Scane. Travelling ministers visited the district and held services. There was no regular minister until a Rev. Ferguson Wesleyn began holding meetings once a month in the school-house, built on Levi Cornwall's place near Thos. Scane's place about 1828.

The Methodists were organized and held meetings in the settlement in 1852. There were three divisions in the Methodist denomination: (1) The Wesleyn Methodists, (2) The Episcopal Methodists, and (3) The new Connection who were never strong enough to have a church of their own.

The Episcopal Methodist first held services in the Presbyterian Church every two weeks at 7 p.m. In 1876 they built a brick church on the corner of York and Albert Streets. Mr. John C. Smith sung in this choir and his cousin Mr. Fred Lutz was the choir leader. In 1889 this church was sold to the town for $1,500 and was used for a public hall until destroyed by fire. After this church was sold the congregation held services in a hall on Ebenezer Street, where Mr. Vester is living at the present time.

The three denominations -- the Wesleyn Methodists, the Episcopal Methodists, and the United Brethren -- decided to unite, but it was sometime before the three congregations really agreed to worship together as one in the Eire Street church which was built in 1875. The site for the church was given by John Mitton, Ridgetown at first was included in the Morpeth charge. In the Ridgetown circuit were Morpeth, Troy, Townline, Duart, and Aldborough. Mr. Woodsworth was the minister at the time the church was built, and the membership numbered 189. Rev. D. Ives was the preacher at the dedication of the church. An appeal was made for funds and the whole debt was $300 over subscribed, although much of the money subscribed was never paid. During Mr. German's pastorate the church was in debt and the congregation again asked Mr. Woodsworth back to clear off the indebtedness.

The first record of a Sunday school in Ridgetown was a Union School organized in 1857 by Charles Grant Sr. In 1869 during the pastorate of Rev. W. Chapman, a school was organized in the Methodist Church; the first superintendent was Charles Elford and the first organist Amelia Page. Other Superintendents were D.A. Maxwell who was a public school teacher, M. Flemington, L. Wilson, C.P. Simpson, S. Sinclair, J.R. Gundy, L.J. Reycraft, W.R. Ellison, I.B. Robinson, T.J. Scane, Dr. E.W. Irwin, and the present Superintendent in 1948 is Angus Johnson. The present Secretary, Mr. M.W. Street has held the position for the past thirty-two years.

The Ladies' Aid was organized in the pastorate of Rev. R.W. Woodsworth, with the Pastor's wife the first President. Since Union in 1925, the name Ladies' Aid has been changed to the Woman's Association. In 1929 a new pipe-organ was installed at an expense of $5,000 and the old organ. The congregation made a contribution of $500 and the Woman's Association paid for the balance. Organ Chimes, valued at $500, were presented by Mrs. W.J. Taylor, Mrs. Wm. Merrifield and Mrs. Alex Rockey, Mrs. George Mickle holds the record for service in the Women's Association, having served 18 years as president.

The Women’s Missionary Society was organized in 1889 by Mrs Joseph Graham. This organization leads the church in Missionary education, besides yearly a splendid amount of money for missions,

The evening auxiliary was organized in 1925 with Margaret McArthur the first President. The Mission Band is of great interest to the children, The choir plays an important part in the worship service, At the dedication Service Mrs. H.Catton was organist, and Professor Tupper was choir leader. Succeeding organists have been Mrs. W.E. Smith, Professor Wright, Mrs. J.B. Smith, Mrs. Hummel, R. Moore, Miss Rowe and Mr. Sales. Other leaders have been D. Teer, J. Martin, Mr. R.C. Young, R. Pierce, J.C. Smith, G. Badin, Mr. J.C. Smith has 50 years of service to his credit. On his 25th anniversary the congregation presented him with a medal for faithful service, Mrs. Lou Hummel has the distinction of having been organist nor thirty years.

The Young Peoples Society dates back to 1895 when Henry Wilkinson was President, Succeeding him was Lou J. Raycraft, S.J. Jefferies, W.E. Gundy, Miss Lena Young, Roy Hunter, Frank Raycraft, Miss Anne Newcomb, J.C. Smith, W.R. Ellison, E.C. Beebe, Morley White, Mrs. H. Laitch, H.A. Cousins, John Crawford, Alex Mackay, Fred Osborne, Ward Turner and Audry Kourtz.

The Church celebrated its Diamond Jubilee services in June 1935, with special services for three Sundays. The speakers were Rev. F.E. Clysdale, Rev. George Weir, Rev. A.E. Doan, and Rev. D. James Endicoott. Special services and social gatherings were held during the week ending on June 24th with a Congregational Reunion, Tea meeting and concert. The Rev. E.J. Roulston was the pastor at that time.

In the year 1925 the three denominations, Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational united to form the United Church of Canada,

At the 65th Anniversary several gifts were dedicated to former faithful members:

Ministers previous to the building of the present church: Richard Philps (1852-3); Joseph Hugil (1854); Wm. Diagnan (1855-7); Abraham Dayman (1856-60); Thos. Hanna (1861-3); William Hawke (1867-8), Wm. Chapman (1869-70); J.L. Kerr (1871-3); R.W. Woodsworth (1874-6), assistant W.P. French.

Ministers since the church was built: R.W. Woodsworth (1875-7); J.W. German (1878-9) R.W. Woodsworth (1880-2), assistant Hugh Locke; J.R. Gundy (1883-4), assistant Edwin McCallum; Benjamin Clement (1885-7); James Graham (1888-90); E.B. Lancelay (1891-3); Joseph Philip (1894-7); Stephen Bond (1898-1900); Jasper Wilson (1901-4); J.S. Book (1905-8); A.J. Langford (1909-11); J.E. Holmes (1912-15); W.G. McAllister (1916-19); Emmanual Medd (1920-22); A.E. Doan (1923-6); George Weir, associate from Mount Zion Presbyterian Church (1925). Following Union, F.E. Clysdale (1927-9); W.G. Buell (1930-1); Rev. E.J. Roulston (1932-43); A. Hone (1944-51); Rev. R.W. Young (1951-1958); Rev. G.E. Morrow (1958- ).

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Transcribed from the records of Mrs. Geo. S. Brien, Rural Ridgetown Women's Institute.
2004-10-29