Church of Christ Disciples - Mrs. E. J. C. Walker
Publication Date: 1965
The Disciples of Christ in Wellington County came into being in the year 1830, a religious effort that was a functional step in building a religious communion. At one time the church was called Zion Chapel, or Zion Church, Bridge Street, now it is called Norwich Street North.
The Guelph church building was on Lot 4, Plan 40, John Mitchell Survey, purchased from the above party (John Mitchell) June 14, 1859, by the Evangelical Union of the Second Congregational Church, Guelph. On February 22, 1882, the church was sold by the Congregational Church to the Trustees of the Meeting House, Disciples of Christ. The property was free of encumbrance, the purchase price was not registered.
Mr. James Kilgour was born in Kircaldy, Scotland on August 15, 1812, and arrived in Canada in 1845. James Kilgour, as far as can be ascertained, was the elder who started the Guelph Church in 1876 after closing the Eramosa Church.
The move to Guelph was geographically, and doubtless spiritually, justified. The Church in Guelph owes much to James Kilgour, for here he lived and labored as long as his health permitted. In 1893 he passed away.
Rev. Amos Tovell served as pastor from 1899 to 1909. He was educated at the University of Toronto and at Hiram College, U.S. He had held three pastorates in the States before coming back to Canada and then Guelph. After 10 years of service, he resigned to accept a position with the Human and Children’s Aid Society of the city of Guelph and Wellington County. He died in November 1939.
In the First World War (1914-1918), 15 young men enlisted for service. Three of these made the supreme sacrifice; Private Henry Emeny (Nov. 18, 1916); Lance Corporal Charles H. Stewart (November 3, 1917); and Lieut. Ralph McKiel (September 6, 1918).
In 1919, a union was suggested between the Congregational Church and the Church of Christ Disciples. The church boards met many times; the plans and arrangements for union were thoroughly discussed. The Rev. Edwin Wyle of the Church of Christ Disciples was to be minister. It was at this time that an old trust deed of the Congregational Church property was discovered which set out that the Church can only be a Congregational Church, ministered to by an accredited minister of the Congregational body, whose teachings shall be in line with the Union of England and Wales (1833). In view of this provision of the deed, it was recognized that the two churches could not unite. The proposition for union had therefore to be reluctantly abandoned.
In 1920, the church board of managers decided that something had to be done about remodeling the church. Plans were made and the work started. Practically all the work was done by members and friends. They worked long hours and very hard. The present building stands as memorial to their effort, work, and foresight. None of them are living today, they all have gone to their reward.
The remodeling was every extensive, including an extension to the Christian Education division, the tower at the front of the church, new seating, flooring, and choir loft. The interior was completely remodeled.
The re-dedication of the church was on January 9, 1921. This was indeed a very happy occasion. Services were held at 11 A.M. and 7 P.M., with Rev. Wm. Hastie, Superintendent of Missions in Ontario, and Dr. F. W. Burnham of St. Louis, Mo. As guest speakers, the soloist was Miss Millicent McGowan and the male quartet was composed of Mr. W. E. Buckingham, Mr. Stephens, Mr. Fred McArthur, and Mr. Herb Bates.
The annual tea and business meeting was held January 12th. During the evening, Mr. Fred McArthur sang a limerick, composed by himself, in which every man’s name who had worked on the church was mentioned. These included Arnold Black, Freeman Felker, Herb Bates, Stanley McDougall, Cecil Klinck, Edward Tovell, and George McKeil.
During the [Second World] War (1939 to 1945), 20 names of young men and women were added to the Honor Roll. Two young men made the supreme sacrifice – F.O. Douglas Marks and P.O. Lloyd Hardy.
In 1928, Mr. R. L. McKinnon, a church member, was appointed to a judgeship for the county of Wellington.
In 1946, Mrs. Hugh Miller and her sister, Miss Sweeney of Columbus, Indiana, presented new hymnals as a memorial to John W. Kilgour, charter member and elder of the church for nearly 44 years. The father of these ladies was the Rev. Sweeney who once visited Guelph to preach Evangelistic services.
In 1949, a new electric organ was dedicated to the memory of Rev. Amos Tovell, Mrs. Lois Black Tovell, F. O. Douglas Marks, and P.O. Lloyd Hardy. Rev. Mr. Tovell’s years of unselfish service and great generosity made this organ possible.
In 1960, plans were made for a mission Sunday School to be held at S.S.#2 Puslinch. Plans were made to purchase the property. The Sunday School was named the Brock Road Christian Church School.
October 1, 1961 saw the celebration of the Church’s 85th birthday with a former pastor, Rev. Wm. Bilson, as guest speaker. Rev. Wm. Kitchen, minister emeritus attended; the guest soloist was Mr. Campbell McArthur.
In December 1961, four-and-three-quarter acres of land with a new house which will be used as a parsonage was purchased from Mr. and Mrs. Edward Topp. The Church of Christ Disciples, with the co-operation of the Disciples of Christ in Ontario, the All-Canada Committee and the Board of Church Extension, plan to have a permanent pastor in the district by October 1962, when they will take possession of the house and plans for a new church will commence.
Mr. Reuben Butchart, who wrote, History of the Disciples of Christ in Canada Since 1830, is living in Guelph with his daughter, Mrs. A. L. McKinnon. Mr. Butchart is 97 years old and when able, comes to church.
Some of the best-known ministers who served in the Guelph Church were: Rev. Amos Tovell, Rev. John Dearnley, Rev. Wm. Bilson, Rev. Wm. G. Kitchen, Rev. Howard Wakelm, Rev. Wm. Porter, and Rev. Byron Howlett.