ST. ANDREW'S UNITED CHURCH
In an address given by Henry Smith Johnson about the Vittoria Presbyterian Church we find the following statement rather interesting.
"There can be a church without a regular building in which to worship, or without a stated minister. In its simplest meaning a church is an association of Christians who have agreed to be an organization for the purpose of worshipping God and to superintend and manage their spiritual interests, as well as to spread their belief. And it was such a church that was in existence here before there was a regular pastor and before there was a building exclusively designed to house and accommodate it." He also states in his address "There is a tombstone in the cemetery adjoining the church marking the grave of an Anderson bearing the date 1808." This would tend to support his other statement.
In an Address on Local Landmarks dated October 1952, there is mention of St. Andrew's United Church. "The earliest information was about 1818 when Captain Anderson donated two acres of land to the Presbyterian body for the purpose of building a church. In 1844 a man by the name of Dyer was holding services, and he is supposedly the founder of the present church.
On August 5th, 1845 the actual deed was written, transferring one acre of land from Rebecca Anderson, to the trustees for the purpose of building a Presbyterian church and burying ground. Two days later, the cornerstone was laid by William Mercer Wilson. From 1851 regular services were held. It was not until after church union that the church got its name of St. Andrews. " E. A. Owen states "Captain Anderson was a staunch Presbyterian. He was very strict in his religious opinions. He donated two acres in the village of Vittoria for Presbyterian church purposes, but he did not live to see a church edifice erected thereon. This stalwart old pioneer died in 1818 from injuries received in fall from a roof engaged in building a chimney, being in his 66th year." His wife Mary predeceased him in 1814. Since Captain Anderson could not very well donate land to a body which did not exist, it would seem likely that there was a congregation at that time, if these items are accurate at all.
The Museum has copies of the minutes of the building committee beginning in September 1844. Henry Anderson was the first Chairman but upon his resignation Col. Simpson McCall was elected Chairman. Tenders were advertised in Sept. 1844 and opened October 12, 1844. John Bryning was to furnish 20 cords of stone to be delivered by February 1, 1845. The tenders for Carpentry by George Jackson and Wm. Innis and bricklaying by Robert Barnham were thought to be too high and nothing further was done at that time. However we do know that there was a congregation starting as early as September 1844. In the early days the Church depended on itinerant ministers, such as Rev. Jabez Culver, but from 1851 services were quite regularly held in the Church under the leadership of many different ministers. In 1875, a second parcel of land was acquired from Elizabeth Secord by the congregation of the Church. This land remains intact today as part of the church burial grounds.
The First Mention of a Sunday School is made in minutes of the session on December 13,1887. The officers were named as George Eddie, Superintendent;Ernest Dunkin, secretary; Robert Addison, Treasurer and Librarian and Jennie Dawson, Mrs. Addison, Miss McCall and Mr. Shaw as teachers. This church served the Presbyterians from the time of its erection until church union in 1925 when the Presbyterian Church became St. Andrews United Church.
The structure seats 125, with the interior being characterized by wrought iron work on the pews and around the sanctuary.
Due to a decline in attendance St. Andrew's closed its doors in 1966 but the Sunday School and the U. C. W. (United Church Women) continued to be active.
In 1975 after being closed 9 years, a decision had to be made. The church must once again become active or the Presbytery would either sell or demolish the building.
A decision to try to keep the church open was reached by the congregation, who were then faced with the need for a lot of funds to provide the necessary renovations on the building, which was a sad state of disrepair. The roof leaked, the paint was peeling, the ceiling tiles needed to be replaced, windows were broken, and squirrels had even taken up residence.
Outside, tombstones were broken and fallen down and even the shrubs hadn't been trimmed in years. How would we go about fixing all this? There were bake sales, yard sales, walkathons, suppers, a talent show and cookbook sales. You name it they did it. The first service to be held upon reopening was Mother's Day 1976, and services have continued weekly to this day.
Having remained active even while the Church was closed, the U. C. W., although a small group, continues to be great supporters of the church both spiritually and financially with a membership of approximately 20. The church boasts a small membership of approximately 100 but even though they are small in number, they are mighty in enthusiasm.
In 1995 St. Andrews celebrated
its 150th anniversary with an old-fashioned open air service followed by a family
picnic, along with other special events throughout the year.