| Oct 22, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - October 22, 2009 160-year-old St. Pauls church reaches outBy Julie Druker

Major Julia Atherley-Blight and Rev. Lynda Price at Sunday’s 160th anniversary service at St. Paul’s United Church in Harrowsmith

Members of St. Paul’s United Church in Harrowsmith celebrated the church’s 160th anniversary this last weekend with a Friday night bluegrass/country and gospel concert by many well-known local talents, a Saturday night raffle and roast beef dinner and a special Sunday service. Their guest speaker was Major Julia Atherley-Blight from the Royal Military College in Kingston, an engineer with the Canadian Armed Forces and a former commander of the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).

Brenda Crawford, one of the event organizers for the anniversary celebrations, explained that the aim of the celebrations was “to keep the generations connected to one another while making an effort to attract younger generations and encouraging new families to become part of the 160-year-old church.”

Originally built in 1849 as the Wesley Methodist Church, the building was replaced by the existing limestone structure in 1919. The original building was converted to a church hall until it was torn down and replaced by the existing manse.

In 1925 when the Methodist, Congregationalist and Presbyterian churches amalgamated to form the United Church of Canada, St Paul’s became part of a three-point pastoral charge which included the churches in Hartington and Holleford.

In 1968 when the two latter churches closed, Harrowsmith joined with Trinity United in Verona to form the Harrowsmith-Verona Pastoral Charge, which remains today.

The 160th anniversary celebrations, according to Reverend Lynda Price, are “to celebrate the fact that in a time when many churches are closing, St. Paul’s is continuing to thrive and grow.”

She credits St. Paul’s survival with its continued efforts to reach out to the community. She explained, “We’ve been working very hard recently to get outside of the church’s walls and have changed our direction by trying to offer much more outreach to the community.”

As an example, she outlined a recent agreement reached between St. Paul’s and the Southern Frontenac Community Services Corporation (SFCSC), located at the Rural VISIONS Centre in Sydenham. SFCSC will be using St. Paul’s manse as a new satellite location for their current food bank program and are also is the process of developing a new Seniors Centre in the manse, where they plan to offer an Adult Day program along with other seniors programming.

Debra Andrews, executive director of SFCSC, explained, "Our partnership with St. Paul's has been ideal and we've been working together closely to develop funding proposals and to generate new ideas for the proposed centre in the manse. As we are forming our steering committee we've been asking seniors what programs they might like to see offered and, based on that feedback, we will come up with a program."

Rev. Lynda Price continued, “ We’re very excited. It’s a win-win situation for everyone: the church, SFCSC and the whole community.” She added, “I firmly believe that if you stay only within the walls of your church that you are failing in your Christian duty.”

Hundreds of church and community members came out to enjoy the Friday night concert, the Saturday evening meal, and Sunday's service.

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