Julie Druker | Sep 18, 2013

In a special service held on September 15, members of the Land O' Lakes Emmanuel United Church remembered and celebrated the many decades they shared together at the Cloyne United Church. The church represents the last of the four properties to be sold by the Land O’ Lakes Emmanuel Pastoral Charge. A decision was made by the congregation in May of 2011 to sell all of their buildings and to relocate to a new, single central site, which at this time is yet to be determined. In December 2011 the Harlowe church was sold, as was the Flinton manse in February 2012, followed by the Flinton Riverside church in June 2012.

Reverend Judith M. Evenden headed up the often very emotional service and she opened with the words, “We are here today to commemorate a church building that has been a place of sanctuary for many, many years. We are here to give thanks to those who built, maintained, renovated and nurtured this place as a place of worship and other activities. We are here to remember, to tell stories and sing songs of praise....and to pray with words and in silence that the many memories of this place will never be forgotten.”

Thirty-eight-year member of the church congregation, Louise Hogg, also spoke and reflected on the church's rich history, which was gleaned partly from the book, “The Oxen and the Axe”, and from the wealth of memories of various members of the congregation. I have included some of that history here.

On December 17, 1872, a one-half acre of land, a parsonage lot, was purchased for $25 from Charles MacDonald by trustees of the Methodist Church. Construction began on the church 11 years later in 1883 when Reverend Howard organized work bees and volunteers cut logs on the north shore of Marble Lake. The logs were then taken to John Perry's water-powered saw mill. On Nov. 8, 1884, a mortgage of $100 was signed by trustees. The next year another eighth of an acre of land was purchased and six years later, on November 20, 1901, a new mortgage of $200 was held by the Methodist Church and given to trustees of the parsonage and to three trustees at Harlowe.

Hogg said that information about the church in the early 1900s was “pretty sketchy” due to the fact that all church records were lost as a result of a lightning strike on the minister’s study. In 1951 one minister was appointed to take care of the churches at Cloyne, Harlowe, Flinton, Northbrook and Kaladar. The minister resided at the Flinton parsonage. Then, in 1965 the Cloyne parsonage was sold and converted into two apartments. In the late 1960s the Kaladar and Cloyne churches were closed and in 1967 the congregations of Cloyne, Northbrook and Kaladar combined to worship at the Northbrook site, which is now the home of their clothing boutique. The Cloyne church did remain open during this time in the summer months only for cottagers, but soon after congregants felt the need for the church to remain open on a regular basis due to the increasing number of congregants in the Cloyne and surrounding area. In 1977 the Northbrook church was closed and the Cloyne church reopened with volunteers redoing the pews, insulating and re-paneling the main sanctuary, lowering its ceiling, re-enforcing and redoing the floors, and building its main floor cabinets. As the number of children attending the church began to increase, an addition was added that included a Sunday school space, a kitchen and washroom facilities, a choir loft and a space for the organist. The addition project was headed up by Stan Patterson and a number of local volunteers also assisted. Later the new stained glass windows were built and installed and a new steel roof was added. An expansion at the front of the church was also added later and the bell tower was improved.

Reverend Hugh Rose, who helped with the summer supply at the church, spoke of his first time attending the church with his wife 49 years ago. He recalled being “welcomed so completely”, especially by Gerald and Bernice Wise and Ora Wickware. He stressed that “This congregation has always had the gift of making people feel so very welcome.” Members of the congregation then had a chance to share some of their personal memories of the church, after which Rev. Evenden played a video she made commemorating the building and its many members.

Special guests who also presided at the service were Michelle Brotherton, president of the Bay of Quinte Conference, and Ruth Wood, chair of the Four Winds Presbytery, who both spoke of the importance of the people who make up the church community, and who wherever they may find themselves, are what make the heart and soul of the church community. Long-time organist at the church, Mary Ann Tryon, also played at the service.

Following the service Reverend Evenden said that the day had been a long time coming. “Somehow though, it still does not feel real yet.” She and her group are actively looking to purchase a new site to worship. In the meantime services will be held weekly on Sundays at the Northbrook Lions Hall at 10 a.m. after September 22 until a new location can be found.

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