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Sharbot Lake United Church celebrates 125 yearsby Julie Druker
Photo: Rev. Eric Barr, his wife Phyllis with Rev. Ron Smeaton and his wife Dolores at the 125th Anniversary Service at Sharbot Lake United Church
The wooden pews filled up fast at the United Church in Sharbot for a special ceremony celebrating its 125-year anniversary. Rev. Eric Barr led the service, which included music courtesy of the choir, organist Barb Agnew and guest Sara Lake, and a reading by Sarah Magie. Member of the congregation Dianne Lake spoke about the church’s history based on a history compiled by Allan Miller, Shirley Peruniak and Susan Wing. Lake began by asking the congregation, “Did you hear the bell toll this morning? It is the same bell that tolled 125 years ago to welcome church goers to the new Methodist church in Sharbot Lake.”
The first church was constructed in Sharbot Lake on the site of the present-day Masonic Lodge by Presbyterians in 1880, four years after the K&P railway officially opened. Though there was never an ordained resident minister at the church, students from the Presbyterian Theological College of Queens University were regularly sent out and boarded at the home of Mrs. Melzer Avery (now the post office).
In 1884 a regular Methodist mission was started in Sharbot Lake and records show that the first resident minister appointed was Rev. A.O. Watts. Regular Methodist and Anglican services were held in the building until 1887, when the Methodists built their own church just west of the Sharbot Lake Inn, on land that was donated from the K & P Railway. The lumber for the church was milled at Millies Mill in Oso. The original church was larger than the present United church and every Sunday service included music by a church orchestra and choir.
In 1885 the present day manse was constructed and Rev. Eber Crombie was the first minister to reside there.
The Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches of Canada united in 1925, and it was decided one year later, in 1926, under the leadership of Rev. R. Eagleson, that a new church be built at a cost of $5,000 since the old church on the hill was in need of repair. This is the present day United Church.
It was only much later on, in 1967, that the Parham, Maberly and Sharbot Lake churches became the Centenary Pastoral Church.
Lake finished her history giving thanks to “all who served this church over the last 125 years as ministers, stewards, elders and members.”
Rev. Dr. Ron Smeaton, who served as minister at the church from 1963-1967, gave a message titled “Where the Roads Come Together”. His emphasis was on the idea that “Unity does not imply uniformity.” He recited words form the Gospel of John that read, “There are other sheep I have that are not of this fold and them too I must lead as well.” Smeaton continued, “We need not look like the other sheep, we only have to follow the shepherd. If others follow the shepherd in their own way differently from us, well so be it. In my observation this has not happened yet. And I often wonder why is it that we have to keep repeating the mistakes of the past to everyone’s detriment.” Smeaton ended his message with one of his mottos: “Stand Up, Speak Up, and Shut up” and the idea of having the wisdom to know when to undertake each.
Following the service members of the congregation and the community were invited to share a lunch in the church hall.