“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.”
Wellington Street United Church, located at the southeast corner of Wellington & Grey Streets was formed in 1876 by the joining of three church congregations – Clarence Street Methodist Church, North Street (now Queens Ave) Church and Dundas Street Church. The church was built during the spring and summer of 1876 and was constructed of white brick with windowsills and buttress caps of artificial stone work at a cost of $9,000. The building of the manse followed later at a price of $2340.
The Rose stained glass window (overlooking Wellington Street) was from the Stained Glass Works of Colonel Lewis and was his donation to the church.
This unique stained glass window bears the inscription “Be Thou Faithful Unto Death, And I Will Give Thee A Crown Of Life”. The rose window is still installed in the church. Its location and brilliance is a characteristic of Wellington Street and is a known distinguishing feature of the church.
In 1877 Hamilton Road Church and Wellington Street became separate charges.
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, which later became Calvary United Church.
In 1911 the church mortgage was paid in full and celebrated with the burning of the mortgage.
In 1890 pledges of $1200 led to the purchase of a new pipe organ (rebuilt in 1956 when chimes were added). These chimes were moved to Rowntree in 2011. An addition to the Sunday School was built at the rear of the church building in 1914.
In 1925, the United Church of Canada was brought into being, as a result of the merger of the Methodist and Congregational churches and a large proportion of the Presbyterian Churches in Canada. Thus, Wellington Street Methodist Church became Wellington Street United Church.
Since 1926 many improvements were made in the church. Three coal furnaces were converted to gas, audio phone hearing aids were installed in the Sanctuary, washrooms were added to the Sunday School facilities, a church parlour and new kitchen were created and a chapel was built. The congregation also saw the addition of a nursery and a wayside pulpit was constructed on the lawn at the corner of Wellington and Grey Streets. Later years saw the addition of air conditioning to the sanctuary and restoration work to the exterior of the building.
Throughout the years, Wellington Street was blessed with excellent spiritual leaders. Each minister brought their own unique style of worship and commitment. They are listed in chronological order: Rev. J. Kay (1876-1877), Rev. G.R. Sanderson (1977-1880), Rev. D. Savage (1880-1883), Rev. J.B. Smith (1883-1886), Rev. E.B. Richman (1886-1889), Rev. G.W. Henderson (1889-1892), Rev. J.R. Gundy (1892-1895), Rev. A.L. Russell (1895-1898), Rev. J. Edge (1898-1900), Rev. R.D. Hamilton (1900-1904), Rev. J. Livingston (1904-1908), Rev. H.A. Graham (1908-1912), Rev. G.N. Hazen (1912-1916), Rev. W.J. Ashton (1916-1921), Rev. G.T. Watts (1921-1925), Rev. J.W. Hibbert (1925-1930), Rev. J.H. Dudgeon (1930-1934), Rev. L. Currie (1934-1938), Rev. J.W. Hunt (1938-1955), Rev. E.A. Currey (1955-1968), Rev. D. Badger (1968-1978), Rev. P. Crittenden (1978-1982), Rev. R. Jones (1983-1986), Rev. D. Hansford (1986-1995), Rev. A. Cholmondeley (1995-2002), Rev. J. Varghese (2002-2003), Rev. W. Brown (2003-2009), Pastor Valarie Hodgins (2005) and Rev. C. Moore (2009-2011).
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.