The United Church of Canada is the largest Protestant Christian denomination in Canada, and the second largest Canadian Christian denomination after the Roman Catholic Church. The United Church was founded in 1925 as a merger of four Protestant denominations: the Methodist Church of Canada, the Congregational Union of Ontario and Quebec, two-thirds of the congregations of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, and the Association of Local Union Churches, a predominantly prairie-based movement. The Canadian Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church joined the United Church of Canada on 1 January 1968.
“In structure, the United Church has a “bottom-up” governance, where the congregation selects its clergy, rather than clergy being appointed by a bishop or other body. The policies of the church are inclusive and liberal: there are no restrictions of gender, sexual orientation or marital status for a person considering entering the ministry; interfaith marriages are recognized; communion is offered to all Christian adults and children, regardless of denomination or age.” – From Wikipedia.
Union of the Methodist and Presbyterian congregations took place in 1925: the newly established United Church of Canada occupying the property formerly belonging to the Methodist Church. Following the decision of a number of the members of the Presbyterian Church to enter the United Church of Canada, the transfer of property to that organization took place in accordance with the provisions of the Church Union Act and in which it was incorporated.
In celebration of serving the spiritual needs of the community for 100 years, a “Centenary” Booklet was produced in 1963 which set out the history of St. Andrew’s, Beachburg, from 1863 to 1963. Centenary St. Andrew’s Beachburg
For eight years from 1952-1960, Rev. Howard J. Veals served both St. Andrews in Beachburg and Trinity United in Forester’s Falls. A section from his memoirs, written for his family before his death, deals with those eight years. His daughter Key Wray of Deep River, Ontario, has generously allowed its use here. Rev Howard J Veals Memoir. The Beachburg United Church manse, described in the memoirs, now serves as the lovely “Old Manse Bed & Breakfast” on the main street of the village.
“Greenwood United Church had its beginning as a part of the Wesleyan Methodist Mission at Westmeath”, begins Evelyn Price’s entry in her comprehensive writings on the early history.
The name Greenwood is said to have originated because the first church was built with green wood.
Compiled by Ray Grylls and Frances Hennessy, 1976
In 1925 with church union, the Presbyterian Church and the Wesley Methodist Church in Westmeath were united and became part of the United Church of Canada; the congregation of the Presbyterian Church joining with congregation of the Wesley Methodist Church in the former Methodist Church building. Since that time it has been known as St. Andrew’s United Church.
There was not complete agreement with church union in both congregations. Several families of the Methodist Church and two families of the Presbyterian Church did not go along with their church; but left it to become members of the Pentecostal congregation; which later purchased the former Presbyterian Church at the Gore Line and Westmeath Main Street corner. Some Presbyterians remained with the Presbyterian congregation.
In the 1940’s the church building was repaired and redecorated and stained glass memorial windows were installed (see below for more on the stained glass). A building fund was set up in the years between 1957 and 1964. The wood furnace was replaced by an oil furnace and extensive renovations carried on costing $16,166.70.
Several memorials have been placed in the church: a wooden cross placed in the choir loft – donated by Mrs. Eva Grylls; a Bible was presented in 1961 by Eric and Laurine Blackwell in memory of an Uncle; Foster L. Jones; a Baptismal Font presented by Archie and Muriel Blackwell in memory of their son Trevor Blackwell; collection plates in memory of Susan Anderson Bromley were presented by her family in 1964; and two tables in memory of Max Grylls presented by his wife Ray Grylls and daughters. An oak tree was planted in the church property by the congregation to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada in 1975.
Ministers who have served the parish include:
We have a Financial Statement of the Westmeath Perretton Charge from 1950. 1950 St. Andrew’s Westmeath Perretton
In 1973 the members of the two congregations produced a picture album: 1973 Westmeath Pastoral Charge
Grace United Church on the corner of the Beachurg and Hila Roads has always been part of the Westmeath Pastoral Charge and dates from around 1857, sharing with Westmeath the Wesleyan Methodist heritage. The brick church was built with volunteer labour and the Maltese Cross high up on the front of the church is inscribed: “Grace Methodist Church – 1891.” In 1958 a church hall was added, again largely using the skills of volunteers.
This account of the early days was written by Evelyn Price in 1955:
“It had been the custom previous to its erection to hold services in the schoolhouse, situated at the junction of the north end of the Indian Road and the Beachburg-Pembroke Road. It was built in 1891 under supervision of Rev. John Ellis, who was born in Pembroke and was pastor of the Westmeath-Perretton appointment at that time. s a church has to be affiliated with one denomination. A white Maltese cross was set in the red brick wall, high up on the front of the church.
“Since 1925 it has been known as Grace United Church. The edifice is an example of what can be accomplished by the voluntary labour of ardent workers.
“Rev. J.D. Ellis was a tireless leader as he traveled to and fro in the neighbourhood, soliciting help and organizing groups of men to give assistance to the contractors. Reminiscences of the older population reveal that he personally supervised as expedition to the woodlot belonging to Enoch Price to select a certain kind of tree he wanted for a specific purpose. He was accompanied by William and Thomas Price and a black cherry tree was chosen. After it had gone through several processes, it became the carved communion rail in front of the alter in the new church.
“When the 50th Anniversary of the building of the church as observed in 1941, he was the unanimous choice of the congregation for minister at both services.
“Memorial windows are dedicated to the pioneers who gave unstintingly of their time in the erection of the church. They are Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Young, Mrs. and Mrs. Henry Robinson, Mr. and Mrs. James McLaughlin, John McGonegal, William Price, Mr. and Mrs. William Moore and Mr. and Mrs. John Kenny.”
Its congregation dwindled in number until the sad reality of closing Perretton’s Grace United arrived. Currently it is available for use as a meeting and gathering hall with some services occasionally held there by other denominations.
Click here for more on the early days of Grace United and other churches of the township.
The valuable heritage in stained glass in the windows of St. Andrew’s in Westmeath Village is testament to a deep desire of its members to proclaim the Glory of God. This collection of windows is one of the best in the Upper Ottawa Valley both in dedication windows and in the two huge main windows in this beautiful fan-shaped sanctuary.
Presented here is a gallery of Dedication Window Panels in memory of loved ones.
The two main windows, one on the east elevation and one to the south reinforce the messages of Jesus’ Love.
The various special images embedded in the windows, encircling the church, are ions or Symbols of the Faith. They include a dove, a challis, a sheaf, the Holy Bible, and the lilies of the field; plus other images. These are beautifully rendered and inserted into the window panels.
Unattributed and undated,
From Westmeath W.I Tweedsmuir Book
In 1925, following union, our church became St. Andrew’s United Church of Canada. The ladies of the Presbyterian Church joined our society and accepted our way of raising money. We welcomed them as we had lost several of our members to the Pentecostal Church.
One old custom we abandoned in 1929 was draping the church railing, chairs, pulpit, and table with black for funerals. One of the minister’s daughters always cried when she saw it, and had a depressing effect on everyone.
From union the Perretton ladies contributed a third of all expenses to the parsonage. Now in 1930 we find contributions of a good amount going to the Trustees, redecoration of the church, and another $100.00 on the church building fund, total $500. In 1944 new memorial windows were added to the church and the Women’s Association (W.A.) contributed to the windows in the choir loft.
We wired the parsonage in 1935 when hydro came to the village and assisted with the wiring of the church and basement. Repairs to the parsonage were added as needed and a new kitchen stove for $100. was purchased. In 1937 the name of our association was changed to the Women’ Association of the United Church of Canada.
In 1950 we joined the Dominion Council in Toronto and used their programs.
Two suppers were served; one at Thanksgiving and one in June. This money was given to the Stewards, amounting to $350.00 – $375.00 per year.
In 1954 we catered to the Women’s’ Missionary Society Rally and adopted Dime Cards to raise money. They were given to all families of the church and amounted to nearly $100.00.
We provided new catechism books for the children of the Sunday School.
Our circuit was asked to contribute $100.00 to the United Church Training School in Toronto and this amount was raised; Perretton giving $35.00. Donations were given several times to the Victor Home in Toronto, also to the Deaconess Home. We also contributed to Albert College, Belleville; Saskatchewan Relief Fund; Pembroke Cottage Hospital; and each year to the March of Dimes.
During the two wars and for some time after we sent boxes of food and clothing to Britain and also helped their children Relief Fund. Many letters of appreciation have been received from the mothers. Every year we send bales of clothing overseas, in later years to Korea.
In 1961 the two women’s groups, the Women’s Missionary Society and the Women’s Association of the United Church were formed into one group – the United Church Women, commonly known as the UCW. The inaugural meeting for Andrew’s United was held on January 9, 1962 at the church.