Grace United Church
Lilian Whitehead's History (1950)
Of the four branches of early Methodism, two were active in Caledonia – the Wesleyan Methodists and the New Connexionists. From 1838 to 1844 Seneca was part of the Walpole Mission (Wesleyan) which extended to Port Maitland and Nanticoke and included Walpole, Oneida, Seneca and Glanford. By 1842 there was already a thriving Wesleyan congregation at Seneca Village, including, among others, James Little, the storekeeper, John Jackson, engineer for the Grand River Navigation Company, Samuel Gray, Wm. Youell, John, Henry, Michael and Susan Norris, James and John Greenley, Jacob and William Thompson, John Lawrence, John Bell, Daniel Clark, Thomas Musson and Hannah and Peter Young.
The Wesleyans built a frame chapel in Seneca on King William Street east of Mr. Martineau’s present residence. The outside of the chapel was finished in 1844, but owing to lack of funds they were unable to build the inside gallery, the seats, altar and pulpit. Sylvester Hurlburt, stationed at York, was the minister.
In 1851 the ladies of the congregation held a large and very successful tea meeting to raise funds to complete the interior of the church the proceeds amounting to $100. After all expenses had been paid. Speakers included Jacob Turner, contractor for the Grand River Navigation Company, who was running for Parliament, Rev. Messrs. Wm. Creighton and George Washington, Mr. H.J. Moore, R. Fisher, Sam Gray and Rev. Wm. Haw.
Rev. Thomas Demorest, stationed in York, followed Sylvester Hurlburt as minister in 1847, but in 1848 the Seneca church was so flourishing that Demorest’s successor, Thomas Cosford was stationed at Seneca, as was John Baxter a year later. In 1850 the Walpole Circuit was divided in two, Nanticoke and Glanford, with Seneca part of the Glanford Circuit. Ministers included Geo. Young, Wm. Haw, Wm. Creighton, Isaac barber, Simon Huntingdon, Andrew A. Smith, Wm. Richardson, Thos. Williams, Jas. M. Clarke, James Hughes, George B. German, Isaac B. Tallman, Thos. Cobb, Jonathan E. Betts, Wm. H. Laird, Hugh McLean, Hall Christopherson, Thos. S. Keough, Geo. H. Cornish, Reuben E. Tupper, Thos. D. Pearson, Daniel Perrin, B.A., Richard Potter, John W. Savage, Thos. S. Howard, John W. German and others. The Parsonage was the house now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Ted Ratchford.
In 1874 the Wesleyan and New Connexionist Methodists in Canada united.
The New Connexionist was the other branch of Methodism active in Caledonia. In April 1845 Thos. Rump, a New Connexionist minister, reports preaching in Caledonia to about 200 people. In his letter he says that a tavern-keeper prepared a very large room and was very kind but he hopes the New Zion’s chapel will be opened before the conference. Miss Mary O’Neil, who attended Sunday School in this chapel, reports that it stood on the South side of the McKenzie Road on the corner of the road running past the late John Beattie’s old home. It was a brick building and a Mr. A. gave the ground for its erection and a burying ground in addition. Mr. Rump describes him as very liberal hearted and very anxious to see the church completed as he employed a man a month at his own expense to work at it. There was also a Parsonage.
In 1848 the New Connexionists maintained 20 Canadian mission stations, employing 41 missionaries who preached in about 350 places. Mt. Healey and Caledonia were in the Cayuga Circuit with Rev. F. Weaver, stationed in Cayuga as minister. He was followed by W. Peston. On the collection lists we find the names of Jacob Young, who led the singing, John Corner, Thos. Lawrence, Mrs. Wm. Wintemute, Geo. Walker, John Young, Isabella Nicholas, Mrs. C.F. Johnson and Mr. Avery.
After the union of New Connexionists and Wesleyans in 1874, it was decided to sell the New Connexionist chapel. A record of money received up to 1879 includes $225 for old church, Caledonia, and $90 for old church, Seneca. The united congregations now proceeded to build a new brick church on Caithness Street, which was formally opened on February 3rd, 1878. The Historical Atlas of Haldimand County, published in 1879, describes it as a handsome structure. The amount of money expended on the new church was as follows:-
Contract $3,500.00-Leach and Forrester.
Extras – Forrester $68.65
Extras – Leach $125.00
Caledonia was still part of a Circuit, the minister preaching in Caledonia both morning and evening only once in four weeks. The membership was divided into classes under local leaders as follows:-
Seneca Class 1 - David Lindsay
Seneca Class 2 - John Alexander
Caledonia Class 3 - Thos. Nicholas
Unity Class 4 - John B. Hull
Unity Class 5 - William Old
Fisher’s Church 6 - Wm. Thompson
Seneca West Class 7 - John Thompson
York Class 8 - Robert Davis
Zion Church Class 9 - John Senn
Indiana Class 10 - James Montgomery
The ministers were Wm. Willoughby in 1876, Wm. Morton 1877 to 1880, and Thos. Stobbs. The boy who pumped the organ was paid 10 cents a week.
For some years the house on Orkney Street now occupied by Miss Mary Thorburn, was used as a parsonage. On Dec 5, 1887, the Trustees of the various congregations in Seneca Circuit borrowed %500.00 to build the present parsonage. The trustees were – David Lindsay, Wm. H. Hull, David Young, Francis Iles, Matthew Richardson, Wm. John Burch, Wm. Rolston, Francis William Old, James H. Burrows.
In 1883 the Primitive Methodists and the Methodist Episcopal Church joined the Wesleyans and New Connexionists to form the Methodist Church of Canada, which continued until 1925 when a union of the Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian Churches became the United Church of Canada.
Excerpt from Caledonia & District: A History (1967)
Of the four branches of early Methodism, the Primitive Methodists, the Methodist Episcopal, the Wesleyan Methodists and the New Connexionists, the latter two were active in Caledonia and surrounding districts. From 1838 to 1844 Seneca was part of the Walpole Mission (Wesleyan) which extended to Port Maitland and Nanticoke and included Walpole, Oneida, Seneca and Glanford. By 1842 there was already a thriving Wesleyan congregation at Seneca Village. They built a frame chapel on King William Street in 1844. Because of financial difficulties the interior was not completed until 1851 when the ladies of the congregation held a large and very successful tea meeting to raise the necessary funds. The parsonage was at 446 Hamilton St. East.
In 1850 the Walpole circuit divided in two, Nanticoke and Glanford with Seneca part of the Glanford circuit.
In about 1845 the New Connexionists built a brick chapel on the south side of McKenzie Road, on the corner of the road running past the old home of John Beattie. Mr. Healy and Caledonia were in the Cayuga circuit.
In 1874 the Wesleyan Methodists and New Connexionist Methodists in Canada united. In Caledonia and district, the United Congregations proceeded to build a new brick church on Caithness Street. It was built in 1877 and formally dedicated on February 3, 1878. The ministers at this time were Rev. Wm. Willoughby and Rev. Wm. Morton. For some years the house at 55 Orkney St. West was used as a parsonage. In 1887-88 the present parsonage was erected next to the church.
In 1883 the Primitive Methodists and the Methodist Episcopal Churches joined with the Wesleyan Methodists and the New Connexionist Methodists to form the Methodist Church of Canada, which continued until 1925 when union of Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian Churches became the United Church of Canada.
The original building erected in 1877 stood until 1905, when, in order to accommodate an expanding organization, additions were made at the front and rear. Again by the union of 1925 a larger and stronger congregation was created. In recent years with the rapidly growing community the facilities of the existing church showed a real need for expansion and improvement. As a result, a new addition was erected adjacent to the Eastern side. On March 20, 1955, it was dedicated to the glory of God. The seating capacity of the church, sanctuary had been increased by seventy and the main assembly of the Sunday School was increased fifty per cent. The new wing included, in addition to the enlarged Sanctuary and Sunday School Assembly, a furnace room, with two modern oil furnaces, three class rooms, a kindergarten room, church parlours, minister’s vestry, and modern kitchen. On October 23, 1960 a new Christian Education Wing was opened and dedicated.
1835 Hamilton Circuit
1835-1844 Walpole Mission
1844 York Mission
1844-1846 Sylvester Hurlburt
1847 Thomas Demorest
1848 Seneca Circuit
1848 Thomas Cosford
1849 John Baxter
1850 Glanford Circuit
1850-1851 George Young
1851-1852 William Haw
1852 Glanford & Seneca Circuit
1852-1853 Simon Huntington
1854-1855 Thomas Williams
1856 George German
1857-1858 James Hughes
1859 Glanford Circuit
1858-1861 Jonathan E. Betts
1862-1864 Thomas S. Keough
1865-1866 Reuben E. Tupper
1867-1868 Thomas D. Pearson
1869-1870 John Wesley Savage
1871 Seneca Circuit
1871-1872 John B. Armstrong
1872-1873 John W. German
1874 Seneca Methodist Church after union of Wesley and New Connexion Methodists.
1874-1876 Robert William Willoughby
1877 Caledonia Circuit
1878 New Caledonia Methodist Church, Caledonia
-1880 William Morton
1880-1883 Thomas Stobbs
1883-1885 Andrew Edwards
1885-1888 Robert J. Elliott
1888-1889 James H. McCartney
1889-1892 Charles W. Cosens
1892-1895 Thomas W. Jackson
1895-1896 W.W. Sparling
1896-1901 Henry G. Livingston
1901-1905 Charles J. Dobson
1905-1906 Charles Smith
1906-1910 Alfred E. Smith
1910-1913 William J. Brandon
1913-1916 George Francis Morris
1916-1920 John Milton Copeland
1920-1924 Henry Brand
1925 Congregational, Presbyterian and Methodist Congregations united to form the United Church of Canada
-1927 William J. Fiddes
1927-1933 John T. Heslop
1933-1938 T. Harold Ackert
1938-1945 James A. Gale
1945-1949 Douglas Brydon
1949-1952 John Arthur McKim
1952-1953 A.J. Elson Interim Minister
1953-1960 Edward W. Shaw
1960-1965 William A. Gibb
1965-1975 Douglas Muir
1975-1980 S. Douglas Dunlop
1980-1988 Donald Nicholson
1988-1989 James Young Interim Minister
1989- Robert J. Nightingale