| Sep 18, 2008

Sept 18/08 - Arden's Wesleyan Church Turns 80

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Feature Article - September 18, 2008 Arden Wesleyan Church turns 80By Julie Druker

Pastor Vernon Scott and Ruth Oliver entertain at the Arden Wesleyan Church's 80th anniversary celebration

The Arden and Community Wesleyan Church, formerly known as the Standard Church of Arden, celebrated its 80th Anniversary this past weekend. Approximately 45 members of the community gathered on Friday night for the gospel music of “Clear View“, the local singing Matson family, whose youngest member, three-year-old Kaylee wowed the crowd.

Guest speaker Alvin Lasher of Wilton, pastor of the Arden Church from 1965-67 spoke on Friday night and reminisced about his years spent there. He lived in the parsonage, built in 1961 by Melvin Scott and as a 19-year-old pastor, admitted to being rather “green”.

He recalled just getting out and knocking on people’s doors and always receiving a warm reception.

Pastor Lasher showed the gathering a handmade quilt embroidered with the names of the congregation back then that he and his family received when he left the church, a 40-year-old treasure he has kept since then.

The anniversary celebration continued on Saturday. Pastor Vernon Scott and church members set up a large army tent in the field adjacent to the church where parishioners and locals enjoyed a BBQ, plenty of home-made pies and Verna Cowdy’s famous home made donuts.

Saturday’s outdoor celebration recalled the style and feel of the first historic religious “camp” or “tent” meetings held in Arden, the first of which took place in July of 1926 and lasted for one full week.

Pastor Scott explained, “The meetings would last about a week long and everyone would camp out and there would be a guest speaker. At these meetings people would make a commitment to Christ. It was from this first meeting in 1926 that a nucleus was formed, a group of people who in fact went on to form the Standard Church in Arden”.

The rest of Saturday afternoon was relaxing and informal and proved to be quite a musical gathering as pastor Vernon Scott sang old gospel favorites on the guitar and was joined by Ruth Oliver, also on guitar, and Gordon Wright who rushed home to grab his banjo and his book of 193 original gospel songs.

Later that afternoon, members of Sweet Water, a gospel group from Winchester, Ontario, arrived early for their evening performance. They quickly joined the tent meeting that was underway, carrying over their instruments and playing right along.

Minus the cars, and the plastic chairs, this casual gathering of local folk felt like what some of those meetings from the past must have been like.

Sunday night the celebration continued on with musical guests Heaven Bound and a speech by current Pastor Vernon Scott.

Church member Connie Tryan helped organize the event and both she and the pastor were pleased with the outcome.

The theme for the anniversary was the past, present and future of the church and each guest speaker addressed those ideas.

Pastor Scott explained how “the anniversary celebration is important since it reconnects people to the church and lets us see how many different people in the community in the past and present have been involved with it.”

As an outsider, for me it is the gospel music and the many aged guests that brought it all together, the past, present and the future. Many thanks to Pastor Scott, Connie Tryan and all of the guests and parishioners at the Arden and Community Wesleyan Church and also to all the musicians who joined in and helped to make that Saturday afternoon church meeting a very memorable and enjoyable one.

Anyone interested in looking further into the history of the church should read Bessie Wagar Seiter’s “History of the Standard Church of Arden, Ont., Canada”. A one-time resident of Arden and the youngest daughter of Norman Wagar, a former pastor of the church, Bessie travelled far and wide around Arden and the surrounding area to complete a short but detailed history of the church and its development from the first meetings to what it has become today. Copies are available at the church. Anyone interested in musical events happening at the church is encouraged to visit www.ardenchurch.com.

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