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PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH – Last Services in the Old Church

A Glance Back into the Presbyterian History of This District

[Welland Telegraph, 3 January 1890]

On Sunday morning last Rev. Mr. McCuaig preached his last sermon in the old building, and notwithstanding the rough weather the church was well filled. It is always sad to say good-bye to anything that one has long been accustomed to, whether it be his native home, his business, or his friends; equally so it is to feel that you are worshipping in your church for the last time. True, one may be moving to a new house, decorated and finished in all the modern improvements that architecture can devise, still it is not like the old home and the fondness and loving memory of those who worshipped with us for so many years, will make it near and dear to many who attended this service to pay their last tribute of respect. The new house will never efface those thoughts from their memories. Mr. McCuaig has been pastor of this church for a little over two years, and in that time he has done more good work, not only in getting the members to build a new church, which betiding is an ornament to the town, but he has been the means of building up the church itself; from a few members who welcomed him here he has gone on increasing their numbers, until today it stands as one of the best attended congregations in the town, The pastor has the knack and ability of speaking to his congregation which at once makes an impression on his hearers, he pleads with them is such language that each person feels that it is a personal matter, that his preaching is a sermon to him and is not intended for so and so, who unfortunately happens to be absent. Outside the church he is more than pastor, he is a friend to those in trouble or in sickness, as well as a genial visitor to those that are well.

The choir deserves a word of praise, especially those members who have stuck to their places for so long and so faithfully; it may be that some are impresses with the novelty of being members of the choir when they first sing in the new church, or perhaps it is from pure love that the choir has marvelously increased in numbers an strength within the last few Sabbaths.

Mr. T.D. Cowper, who has been superintendent of the Sunday School for the past two years, made a very appropriate address to the scholars on Sunday afternoon, and in closing the school the last chapter in the history of the old church was concluded.

At the morning service Mr. McCuaig took his text form the 1st Samuel, 7th chapter, 12th verse. “Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpsh and Shen and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” The word Ebenezer engraved on the stone by Samuel after having driven the Philistines out of Israel , whither they had collected for battle against the Israelites, is very suitable for this our last service, for we can now say with the prophet, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” The preacher than went into the reasons why they required a new church, speaking very feeling and kindly to his members, and his sermon was listened to with the keenest of interest by all present.

Below is a brief sketch of Presbyterian history in Welland:

The history of the Presbyterian church in Welland may be said to begin from the year 1834. It is true that before that year there had been occasional services held in the neighborhood. The united Presbyterian church of the United States sent several ministers into the Niagara peninsula, who travelled through the then most unbroken forest, even as early as the end of last and beginning of this century. Very faithful were these brethren, and many __journey they made in preaching the glorious gospel of the blessed savior to perishing sinners. But Welland does not appear to have been visited, perhaps because there were no inhabitants here at the time. Services were held at Cook’s Mills and from Fort Erie to old Niagara, and inland from St. Catharines to Smithville and Barton the lamp of divine truth was carried by these missionaries of the cross.

When the Welland canal was entered upon and the village of Merrittsville, now Welland commenced its history, services were a little more continuous. They were held in the old school house on the bank of the Welland river. About the year 1848 Rev. Mr. McIntosh, of the Church of Scotland, conducted worship in that house. He returned to Scotland in the following year and died there.

After the lapse of some years the few Presbyterians in Welland endeavored to revive the cause. They made applications to Rev. Mr. McAllister, then minister at Port Robinson, in connection with the united Presbyterian church of America. Mr. McAllister preached at intervals during the summer months for about two years, when he returned to the United States.

Nothing was done after Mr. McAllister’s removal to the States for a period of about ten or twelve years. Meantime the village was growing and more Presbyterians settled to be near it. It was then resolved that something should be done to maintain the ordinance of the gospel according to the ordinance of the Presbyterian church. In pursuance of this good object, a memorial was presented to the Presbytery of Hamilton, in connection with the Canada Presbyterian church, requesting that court to take the proper steps to organize then in a congregation. The Presbytery granted the request and appointed Rev. F. Burns of St. Catharines to organize the congregation. The congregation was organized in 1862 by Mr. Burns.

Our late townsman, John Dunigan, Esq., presented the congregation with a lot of ground on Church street. The deed connecting the gift is a very lengthy one. It was made in the names of Messrs. Archibald Thompson senior, and Daniel McCaw, both of whom still remain and worship in the church, and John Phillips, deceased, as trustees of the congregation and their successors. Among other conditions in the aged though somewhat ragged (through age) deed, with the wise one that the church should be built and ready for use within the period of eighteen months. This put the little congregation on their mettle and they nobly fulfilled their part as the church was opened and dedicated to the worship of God in January 1864.

But after this exertion the cause seems to have settled into a state of dormancy for another eight years, or rather, it was in the mission station, getting a supply of preachers from the Presbytery were able to give it. Although number of the congregation stuck with the tenacity peculiar to Pres. and hold on to the cadee for that. Then a united call was given to W. Hancock, a minister of the Presbyterian church from congregations of Crowland, Port Colborne and Welland. Mr. Hancock was received as a pastor into the Canada Presbyterian church and acted as minister of the three churches, 25th August 1872. Mr. Hancock had this charge until the 12th January 1875 when he resigned and became minister of North Pelham and Port Colborne. He now resides in Toronto.

When Mr. Hancock left there was a vacancy of about a year. Reverend Clarke was called and became minister on 25th July 1876. He remained a few months, when for reasons he kept to himself, he resigned his position 1876.

A vacancy of rather more than ten months occurred, during which Port Colborne separated from Welland. Various ministers preached, and in 1878 they made a united call to Rev. James McEwen of Westminister, who was inducted in August of that year. Mr._ associated with him as a…

Remainder of article is scanty due to poor microfilm.

Alexander Reid, of Crowland and James McCabe of Thorold …until the congregation should …choose elders from….This, however did not take place …when Messrs. J.M. Dunn and J.H. Burgar were elected and duly ordained and inducted. Mr. George C. Cowper was added to the number of that session as an elder. Mr. McEwen remained ..of Welland and Crowland until. of 1885, when he resigned his…the hands of the Presbytery again became vacant. This continued for about eighteen months ..which some ineffectual steps were made to secure a minister. Meantime, the congregation was increasing in number ..in the summer of 1887 the congregation extended a call to Rev. F. McCuaig, which call was placed before the Presbytery and soon Rev. F. McCuaig who was inducted in October, 1887. ..In August addition was made to the session with Alexander Robertson, J.H. Burgar (elected) and Thomas D. Cowper having been chosen by the members to the office of the eldership.

The membership of the church was steadily increasing. At the first the number of members might have been counted on two hands.. Communion after Mr.McEwen the number was only 27. The number on the session roll at this time ..this did not represent entirely who have been members……

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