Intro | Pioneers | Division |
Reunited | Celebrate |
Notes | Index
|3. The Reunited Period
In June 1875 the Presbyterians of all Canada became one denomination; and on February 9th, 1876, the two congregations in Simcoe by their own vote and by action of Presbytery at a meeting in St. Andrew's Church, became one under the name of St. Paul's Church, Simcoe. To promote this the elders of both congregations, as well as the pastor of St. Andrew's, had resigned their offices. The Presbytery now appointed an interim session, consisting or Mr. Craigie (Moderator), Mr. Livingstone and Mr. Grant. On Feb. 22nd, the united congregation by unanimous vote elected Mr. McNeil as pastor. The Presbytery met in St. Andrew's church the same day and sustained the call. Mr. McNeil being present accepted it, and was inducted on March 2nd. For the first time in its history the congregation had now two services each Sabbath. They met in Norfolk St. Church till it was sold in January, 1880, then in St. Andrew's Church till the present church was erected.
|The first regular Session of the united church was installed on Oct.
22nd., 1876. The elders were Rev. Geo. Grant, B.A., and John Scott re-elected; and W. P.
Innes, John Cowan, and James Taylor, elected for the first time and now ordained.
years the following were added, -- in 1881, Alex. Campbell and Wm. Burt; in 1886, D. S.
Patterson B.A., W. J. Best, and Thos. Haddow; in 1890, Frank Reid and I. S. Rowart; and in
1902, H. Hoffman and A. Ironside.
Mr. Innes is the only remaining member of the Session of 1876. His experience and sound judgment, his loyalty to the church and its pastors, his evangelical spirit, and his sympathetic manner have made him a tower of strength; while his life-long liberality and his recent benefaction to the church and the town have been consistent with his professed principles.
Mr. McNeil was an exceptionally rousing preacher and a man of conciliatory spirit, and did much to unite the hearts of the people, but he remained in Simcoe only fourteen months after induction, when he left for Scotland, when he sent his resignation of his charge here.
He was succeeded on Oct. 1st., 1878, by the Rev. R. M. Croll, from Claude, Ont. His ten years of pastorate were years of consolidation rather than of expansion; and the erecting of the present church building, as well as the possession of it, did much to amalgamate the two united congregations into one people. This indeed was one reason why the work was undertaken, and the result has proved its wisdom. (Owing to the impossibility of securing a photograph of Mr. Croll in time his portrait is omitted with regret. -- Editor.)
The building of the church was entrusted to the following strong committee, -- John
Jackson (Chairman), W. P. Innes (Secretary-Treasurer), Judge Livingstone, Wm. Todd, Wm.
Sutton, Jas. McBurney, J. G. Matheson, J. T. Chadwick, and P. W. McGregor;
while George Jackson, by appointment of the committee, superintended the work. The
Committee was vigorously supported by the ladies, who undertook the furnishing of the
church and the finishing of the school-room; and who worked with a will and a harmony and
an ability that has always characterized their efforts. Part of their work was a sale that
netted over $500.
The church was fittingly dedicated on Feb. 14th, 1886, and cost about $11,000. This was met by subscriptions, by the sale of the former churches and manse, and by monies raised by the ladies, leaving a debt of $1,500 which was removed in 1891.
The present incumbent, the Rev. W. J. Dey M.A., who came from Ershine Church, Hamilton, was inducted on Jan. 9th, 1890; and the 17 years since then have been years of quiet growth and undisturbed harmony and good will. The membership has steadily increased till the 92 of 1890 is now over 200, and the members have been walking worthily.
The debt of $1,500 was placed on the collection plate on a Sabbath in November, 1891; a pipe organ was introduced in 1895, and other improvements and additions were made from time to time amounting to $900; and last year (1905) an exceptionally fine manse was erected at a cost of nearly $4,000, all of which was provided for at the time except $667, and the most of it paid. The initial contributors to the manse fund were Mrs. Wartley in 1894 and John Jackson in 1898. The Ladies' Aid added to this fund from year to year; and in January 1895, led by a munificent offer from Mr. Innes, the managers and congregation resolved upon building; and the manse was occupied Dec. 13th following.
The sub-committee of managers that built the manse were J. B. Jackson (Chairman), W. L. Innes (Secretary), A. McKnight (Treasurer), L. C. Gibson, and H. Hoffman; and credit is due them for their efficiency and care, especially to the chairman whose time and matured experience were so abundantly bestowed upon the work, with his usual steady vigor and kindly purpose.
The missionary spirit of the congregation has kept pace with the congregation's growth and financial ability. This is shown by the interest manifested in its missionary organizations and in its contributions. The latter have increased till the $100 of 1890 became $700 in 1904; and recently there have been large benefactions not sent through the congregational treasurers.
All the usual departments of activity are found in St. Paul's Church, each led by faithful and efficient officers, and sustained by loyal and willing workers.
None it will deem it invidious it mention be made of Frank Reid, who for 16 years has been the Superintendent of the Sabbath School, and who as elder, manager, treasurer for seven years, usher, and occupant of other offices has shown untiring vigilance and capability; or of David Boyd who for eighteen years continuously has been the painstaking and enthusiastic Librarian of the Sabbath School, working so quietly and smoothly that the congregation and even the School barely know they have a Librarian; and whose services can always be relied upon for the business side of the church's social functions.
Nor will we omit George Williamson, who for long years did so much as leader and member of the choir, to promote its efficiency, and social solidarity; and who as manager and treasurer has given ungrudgingly much personal attention to details of church business.
It is fitting also that mention should be made of a life-long member who was suddenly called away as these pages were being completed for the press -- Mrs. Joseph Jackson, daughter of the late Rev. Martin Livingstone. Mrs. Jackson came to the congregation in her early girlhood and became a communicant forty years ago. During all that time she freely gave the congregation the benefit of her exceptional musical abilities, as organist, choir leader, and soloist; as well as being an enthusiastic worker in the Sabbath School of her earlier days; in the Ladies' Aid Society, the Women's Foreign Missionary Society, and the Boys Mission Band. Her bright and genial courtesy ever helped to bring the members of the congregation into greater intimacy with one another.
In the long history of the church there are many others of the past and of the present who have perhaps never held office, but who form of a truth "a noble army, men and boys, the matron and the maid," loyal, faithful soldiers of the Captain of their Salvation, whose names may not appear here, but are in the book of life.
Looking back over all these years of gracious care and guidance, may we not have hope and faith for the future, that the God of our fathers who has led us and blessed us all the way, will be our Guide forever?