History of St. John's United Church,
The Methodist Church first came to the Elmvale area in 1871,
the year in which the Hillsdale and Penetang Mission was formed. The first Methodist
Church was built near the centre of Flos Township and was known as the Field's Church. It
was burned in the big fire of 1881.
|The first regular Methodist services began in
Elmvale in the autumn of 1881 in a building on the corner of Stone and Yonge. The building
is gone now, but many remember it as the old Lynn Funeral Home.
||A frame church and shed were erected on the east
side of Paterson Street at a cost of $1500.00. It was opened and dedicated in October,
1883, by Rev. J. E. Howell of Owen Sound and Rev. W. Richard of Dalston.
|On July 31, 1907, a ceremony was held to lay the
corner stone for a new Methodist Church on the corner of Yonge and Houden Streets.
According to the financial statement of 1908-1909, the total cost of the new church and
shed amounted to $8,527.92. A few interesting statistics taken from the same year's
statement: Minister's salary, $506.60, wood and coal, $23.36, organist, $35.00, caretaker,
$20.00. Disaster befell the church on Good Friday, in 1913, when a fifty-mile per hour
gale swept across Ontario. The force of the hurricane damaged the roof of the church. It
was repaired and by 1914, or 1915, the St. John's Church was free of debt.
In 1913, the Methodist frame Church on
Paterson Street was sold to the Roman Catholic Church. It has been torn down and now is
replaced by the Elmvale Fire Hall.
On June 10, 1925, the Elmvale charge became part of the
United Church of Canada along with the Methodist Church, the Congregational Churches, and
most of the Presbyterian Churches in Church Union.
|On Sunday, July 29, 1956, ground was broken for
the addition of a larger church school. The corner stone was laid on Sunday, September
30th. Rev. A. G. Reynolds conducted the Service, Mr. F. Webster laid the corner stone, and
Rev. S. E. Lewis of Collier Church, Barrie, represented the Presbytery of Simcoe. By the
time the building was finished, the cost rose to approximately $56,000.
Elmvale and Allenwood
In 1965, an historic event occurred in the
United Churches in this area. The two former congregations of Allenwood and Elmvale formed
a new congregation and inherited the St. John's building. The first service of the newly
formed congregation was held on October 24, 1965. The vacated Allenwood Church was sold to
the Roman Catholics in 1968.
In 1974, more renovations were completed to St. John's. The
old pews were taken out and new ones installed with cushions. The wainscotting was taken
off the walls and the walls were all plastered, the two doors at the back were removed and
a new archway was put in, the ceiling was sandblasted and repainted. New panelling was put
in around the chancel, a new pulpit made, new lights were installed and wall to wall
carpet was installed.
At this time it was decided to try to send an equal amount to
the underprivileged countries of the world. Thus, a world relief fund was set up. Some of
the projects have been: Relief Fund for Earthquake Victims in Guatemala, two Super Gifts
to the United Church World Development Fund, a gift to Keith and Jo Jamieson to buy parts
for Landrovers in India. In 1977 a walk-a-thon was held to raise money for the Ontario
Mission of the Deaf and Rev. Bob Rumball came to St. John's to accept a cheque for $2500
to be used to educate an Indian student in Medical School in India. In 1979, there was an
exciting joint project between St. John's United and Collier Street United Church in
Barrie. A Massey Ferguson 255 tractor was bought and sent to Zaire. The tractor was taken
to Hamilton, where it was taken apart and crated for the voyage to Zaire. In Africa it was
reassembled and put to work on a demonstration farm.
St. John's Fellowship Hall
St. John's Fellowship Hall is the culmination of a vision of a new and
inviting entrance to the Sanctuary that would make it more accessible and
the dedication and commitment of numerous volunteers under the direction of
Sam Langman and the Finance and Property Committee. The Official Board
instructed the Committee to research, design and build a new entrance. On
September 18th, 1986, the footings for the Fellowship Hall were laid.
Time, materials and countless hours donated by many eager volunteers who
endured the work bees, the dust, the fund raising and the laughter saw the
completion of the Fellowship Hall with the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to
officially open its doors on April 26th, 1987. Prior to this, the Fellowship
Hall was used for the first time on April 5th for after Church coffee and
conversation much to the delight of the congregation who enjoyed the newly
decorated entrance complete with carpet, curtains and a beautiful stained
glass window above the doors.
Before and after Church, the "fellowship" of St. John's is quite
evident in the many conversations and stories shared among this caring
congregation in St. John's Fellowship Hall.