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  • Ontario, Canada

Standard Church

“The Standard Church began in 1922 in a little tent pitched across from the Cemetery.  In 1922 a lot on Minto Street was purchased and a church built.  The first Board consisted of Rev. R. Robertson, George Robertson, William Fletcher and N.S. Montgomery assisted by A. McLean.  The first minister was Rev. J.B. Pring and the church was dedicated in 1923.

Beachburg Standard Church, 1922 – 1971,  on Minto Street.

“With the passing of the years there have been many changes, not only with pastors but those who labour to see the church grow.  They have gone to receive their eternal reward, leaving those that remain to keep this part of God’s Vineyard alive and growing.”The last service in this church was May, 1971, after which they went to Forester’s Falls to worship.”

– from Evelyn Moore Price’s writings.

This denomination was home-grown Ottawa Valley. This church had its roots in the Methodist Church of Canada and was founded when a very charismatic adherent named  Ralph Cecil Horner, farmer, Methodist clergyman, revivalist, and holiness bishop, found some fame in the area and beyond. Born just across the Ottawa River near Shawville, Quebec; he travelled extensively in the area preaching at  tent meetings where “a number of souls were won for Christ“. The more passionate of Horner’s followers were called “Hornerites”.

Today on the Main Street in Shawville stands a billboard showing historic highlights of the area and Rev. Ralph Horner’s evangelistic career is there listed.

The Ottawa Journal, Monday, July 22, 1895.
Lift up a Standard, the Life and Legacy of Ralph C. Horner“, by Lawrence & Mark Coswell, Published in 2012 by Wesley Press.

Horner became the subject of a very comprehensive 1999 Master’s dissertation by Clifford Roy Fortune  at Carleton University which includes a chapter on “Ralph Horner’s Ottawa Valley”  which sets the scene for his evangelistic work in the Valley.

A web posting dated May 1, 2008, called Holiness Movement in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, by Brian Sturgeon,  has a wide assortment of posts about the Holiness Movement, the Standard Church  and the Hornerites. Sturgeon has  included the following text taken from a book he found. (Note that the second name is Clifford rather than Cecil.)

RALPH C. HORNER, Minister and Bishop.

 The Reverend Bishop Ralph Clifford Horner B.O. (1853-1921) was a Methodist Minister, born in Radford near Shawville, Quebec, in Pontiac County. Bishop Horner was preaching camp-meetings in the area throughout the late 1800s and the early 1900s. During that time, the Radford United Church first opened its doors December 19, 1906. Although the church has been closed since 1965 it is still intact and is the only church in Radford with a small cemetery.

Horner studied theology at Victoria College, Cobourg, Ontario from 1883-85 and Oratory in Philadelphia 1885-86 for a further two years. Horner was a dramatic, powerful evangelist, church leader and preacher already active in evangelistic missions. He was ordained by the Montreal Conference of the Methodist Church in 1887. His tenure with the church was short lived. Mounting criticism of his teaching methods and failure to submit to conference discipline brought his deposition. In 1894, taking some Methodist clergy and laity with him, he joined the Wesleyan Methodists of New York and in 1895 formed an independent Holiness Movement Church, becoming its bishop.

After a short, stormy career as a Methodist minister, Horner founded and led a series of Holiness Churches. The first of these religions was known as the Holiness Movement Church. By the year 1900, the Holiness Movement had 118 places of worship and over 5,000 adherents in Canada mainly in eastern Ontario and on the Prairies as well as abroad. It had a Bible college and a publishing house in Ottawa.

In 1916 criticism of his leadership resulted in schism and Horner founded the Standard Church of America. No doubt many strict Wesleyan Methodists were disturbed by the exaggerations and doctrinal aberrations of the incipient Holiness Movement – such as the recurring heretical concept of “the Church”. This so called heretical concept of “the church” as a spiritual communion of the sanctified and saved opposed the true and traditional teaching of the Church as a visible institution.

The first conference of the Holiness Movement Church was held in 1895 [1] and at first the congregation worshiped in a small brick school owned by the Roman Catholic parish in Campbell’s Bay, Quebec. Rev. Horner erected a log church on a site given to the church by William Flood. George Blackwell and Eddie Hamilton are said to have given much time and materials towards the building of the church. Today it is one of the oldest buildings in the village of Campbell’s Bay. In 1897, Horner purchased a small acreage of land near Shawville for his Clarendon followers, called the Hornerites or the Free Methodists. It was purchased from James McDowell to be used as a burial ground. The Cemetery was located where there is currently a cluster of trees in the southwest corner along the fence-line close to the road. When this religious movement began to wane in 1917, many of the bodies buried here were moved to Maple Grove Cemetery in Shawville.

[1] There may be a different date for the actual first conference. It may be 1897 rather than 1895.

Evelyn Moore Price in her 1984 book ,wrote of the Beachburg Standard Church:

In 2007 a new church building opened its doors and carries on serving the area in the tradition of the Standard Church: The Whitewater Wesleyan Community Church at 42 Cedar Haven Road, Cobden, ON.