Wellington Street United Church (1876-2011)

Mission Statement

“We gather in this spiritual home to renew our Christian faith through praise, worship and fellowship. In caring and love, we reach out to all God’s people.”

History of Wellington Street United Church 1875 – 2011

On September 3rd, 1875, at a joint meeting between North Street, Dundas Street and Clarence Street Methodist Churches, the decision was made to build a new church.  A committee was formed and they found a suitable lot at the southeast corner of Wellington and Grey Streets.  The first official Board of Trustees of the new church on September 20th, 1875 made the decision to purchase the lot.

Construction of the church began in the spring of 1876. The Board of Trustees purchased an adjoining lot to build a manse. In September 1876, Colonel Lewis donated the stained-glass Rose Window to be placed above the front doors. On December 15th, 1876, Wellington Street Methodist Church officially opened. Reverend J. Kay was the first of 28 ministers to serve at the church.

Wellington Street Church (whether as a Methodist or United Church) provided the starting point for significant events for other denominations or welcomed other churches to become part of the Wellington family when their doors were closed.  The first Salvation Army officers in London received their commission at a service held in Wellington Street Methodist Church in 1881; in 1887, the members of the Horton Street Christian Church merged with Wellington Street after the closing of their charge; Wellington sponsored the High Street Mission in 1908 (later became Calvary United Church); in the spring of 1989, the Erskine United Church congregation joined Wellington.

Music was always a important part of the church life and Wellington United had an orchestra for several years.  The choir provided music every Sunday and on special occasions for the entire history of the church.  In 1890, a new pipe organ was installed. It was rebuilt in 1956 when cathedral chimes were added.  Many additions were made to the church, including the largest which was the addition of the Sunday School in 1914 to accommodate approximately 500 students.

In 1925, the United Church of Canada formed as a result of the merger of the Methodist and Congregational churches and many Presbyterian Churches in Canada.

Throughout the years, Wellington Street was blessed with excellent spiritual leaders. Each minister brought their own unique style of worship and commitment.

Over the years, many groups carried out the church’s mission not only within its walls but into the community and the world at large.  Some of the groups were Ladies’ Aide, Christian Endeavour, Women’s Missionary Society, Canadian Girls in Training (CGIT), Boys’ Club, Faith Auxiliary, Cubs and Scouts, Men’s Fellowship, Explorers, Mission Circle and Leah Way Auxiliary, Sewing Group, Drama Club, Welcome Club, Merry Mates, Young People and Diners’ Club.  In 1962, the women’s groups at Wellington became one under the title of the United Church Women (UCW).

The church supported many mission projects during its history such as the United Church’s Mission and Service fund, Toys for Tots, Breakfast Club for Aberdeen Public School, volunteering at the Salvation Army Kettle, the Shoebox for Christmas campaign. The Sunday School sponsored children through Compassion Canada for many years.

Wellington celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1976 with the Centennial Theme “100 years: a never-ending friendship with our community, our world, our God”.

On February 15th, 1979, the manse was sold.

After 135 years of living out our mission statement of “We gather in this spiritual home to renew our Christian faith through praise, worship and fellowship. In caring and love, we reach out to all God’s people.” at the southeast corner of Wellington and Grey Streets, the difficult decision was made to close the church and join Rowntree Memorial United Church.

The final service at the 156 Wellington Street location was held on May 8th, 2011 after several celebrations of the church and the congregants through its history.  The church building was left behind but memories of the members and adherents remain.

Over the years many groups have been active in the church
Faith Auxiliary, Mission Band, Scattergood, Church Orchestra, Leah Way Auxiliary, Beavers, Cubs & Scouts (20th London Panthers), Sunday School, Explorers & C.G.I.T., Men’s Fellowship, Choir, Welcome Club, Merry Mates, Young People’s, Couple’s Club, Diners Club, Sewing group and more.
In 1962 the creation of the United Church Women enveloped two pre-existing groups – the Women’s Missionary Society and the Women’s Association.

Wellington celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1976 with the Centennial Theme “100 years: a never-ending friendship with our community, our world, our God”.
Special services were held throughout the year along with the inaugural Bazaar which continued until 2010. A chair lift to the Sanctuary, additional women’s washroom and resource centre were also installed in 1976.

Feb. 15, 1979 the manse was sold to a chartered accountant for $75,000.
Later the building changed hands and at the time of the amalgamation was operating as the Institute of Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture.
After a year of discussions, in 1980 the congregation changed from the Board system (Session and Stewards) of Church government to the Council System with the following committees: Worship, Membership, Christian Education, Outreach, Property, and Finance.
In the spring of 1989 the Erskine United Church congregation joined Wellington. After the sale of their church new doors (made of red oak by County Heritage Forest Products with stained glass by Sunrise Stained Glass) to the lower entrance and at the rear of the sanctuary were dedicated to the memory of former members of Erskine United Church.

A series of Celebration Events was held during the Winter of 2011. People shared their memories at Sunday services with special guests: Rev. John Varghese,  Pastor Valarie Hodgins, Rev. Wendy Brown, Rev. Dr. Paul Crittenden, his son Rev. Dr. Jeff Crittenden and Rev. Don Hansford
The final worship service was held at Wellington on May 8, 2011. The following Sunday the congregation attended church at Rowntree.
After a year of tumultuous real estate dealings the church property (156 Wellington Street) was sold on May 10, 2012.

Along with fond memories, some cherished items from Wellington were brought to Rowntree. The Sanctuary is now home to: the Pulpit (in memory of Mr. & Mrs. Percy Mitchell, 1957), Offering Tables, Lectern (from Wellington’s Chapel), Cathedral Chimes (donated by Emma Cooper, 1956), Grand Piano (donated by Marion Borland, 1998) and Brass Candelabras (in memory of Vernona York Helm). An antique wooden coat rack/umbrella stand (originally in Wellington’s manse) graces the entry to the Sanctuary. Along with some furniture from the parlour, a Grandfather Clock (built by Len Churcher in memory of Jack Betchen, 2006) is now in the Rowntree Parlour.
Old mementoes, new home, new future.