As the Story is Told: Historical Sketch of Church Life, Part II

As the Story is told: A history of Morpeth and communityEvery week, I share an excerpt from my Great Aunt’s book, As the Story is Told: A History of Morpeth and Community, which was printed in 1986.

Interesting note: the organist in the photo at the bottom was my piano teacher.

…continued from last week…

The kitchen has been modernized and running water was installed in 1959. For eighty-two years water was brought in large milk cans from the homes. The installations of two attractive restrooms in 1975 added greatly to the convenience of the congregation.

A Korean child was adopted in 1965. Money and gifts were given and letters and pictures from the child inspired the U.C.W. members to further their work. In 1976 a Haitian boy with a tubercular spine was chosen as an adopted child. The Epworth League under the Methodist Church, which was changed in 1925 to the Young Peoples Society, took an outstanding part in the church life. During the early 1920s the “Sunbeams” a young adult group sponsored by the League, had many house parties and worship services. The clock now hanging in the Sunday School room was purchased by them and was recently repaired by a former member, Mr. Merton Simpson.

One popular event in 1941 was the “Hobby Show.” Due to overflowing crowds it had to be repeated the following night. Hobbies of all kinds filled the basement of the church. Mr. E. K. Baker of Detroit, a summer resident and a firm supporter of the church, acted as chef for the evening, supplying large kettles of chili con carne.

A series of debates organized by Kent Presbytery provided a winter of interest and enjoyment. The Morpeth Young People placed second in the presbytery with Wray Passmore and Mrs. Robert McKinlay as the debaters.

A membership drive conducted for several weeks in 1924 by teams from the Young Peoples Society filled the church to overflowing. Perhaps the winning side was anticipating the promised oyster supper to be supplied by the losers. However fine fellowship, good fun, and a Christian challenge went far to strengthen the Young Peoples movement in the church.

Through the years the choir contributed greatly to the worship and enjoyment in church life. The first organist on record was Dilly Hill, followed by Mrs. (Aunt Gert) Downs, daughter of the minister, Reverend H. W. Shaw using of course, the old pump organ. Other organists included Mrs. C. P. Duck, Mrs. George Willimot, the former Margaret Kimmerly, then a 13-year-old musician, who acted for 3 years, Mrs. Leroy Kimmerly, Mrs. Arthur Whitefield and Mrs. John McDiarmid (assistant). The present organist is Mrs. Douglas Smith. Outstanding were the musical evenings, the cantatas and concerts led by Mrs. Kimmerly, and now Mrs. Smith’s music is an inspiration for all. New choir gowns were purchased in 1965 and a new electric organ was installed in 1967.

Morpeth Church has always had a strong Sunday School. Those serving as superintendents include Mr. Cyrus Smith, Mr. George Passmore, Mr. William Moore, Mr. Henry Wilkinson, Mr. Harry Rockey, Mr. Harvey Smith, and Mr. Alan Fisher. Those who have acted as assistants were Mr. Max Smith, Mr. Dale Smith, and Mr. Allan Reynolds. The large Bible Class, strong for years, slowly dwindled. An enthusiast Young Adult Class, “the Pals”, with twenty-eight members, remained strong. A series of amateur plays were performed for outside centres, giving pleasure to others and fun for the participants. The money realized was used to furnish the primary Sunday School classroom. Many teachers gave long and faithful service and that fine work for the children of the church is still being carried on by dedicated people. The Sunday School remains strong and vibrant in our church.

Morepth Ontario Church grandmothers

The Sunday School Christmas concerts and picnics have always been the big event of the year for the children. We have in our files a bill for J. R. Smith, grocer, dated 1900, for the children’s treats which show 15 pounds of mixed candy $1.20, 10 pounds of cream candy $1., 20 pounds of peanuts $3., and cheese cloth for bags, .05.

Mrs. E. K. Baker and her sister “Billy” Kophal of Detroit truly proved their love for children when they came for many years with suitcases filled with gifts for every child present at the Christmas concert whether they were members or not. Their kindness and Christian spirit will long remain a fond memory in the hearts of the members of the church.

Mission Band, Mission Circle, Explorer and CGIT groups all thrived for a time but seemed to lose their momentum as young people left for further education or work, and others failed to take their place, chiefly due to lack of leaders.

Mrs. Harry Rockey who was Sunday School treasurer for many years, succeeded her mother, Mrs. Isaac Duck, who had filled that position for a great length of time.

Memories were vivid of a saddened community when some of the boys who served in the first and second World Wars never returned. The Honour Roll of 1919 which was framed by Mr. JC Locke of Ridgetown, and a plaque in memory of the boys lost in the second World War are greatly treasured. Mrs. Rockey described funeral processions going by foot across the fields over a well-worn path from the church to the cemetery. Pallbearers carried the caskets, led by the minister and followed by the black-shrouded mourners.

From 1927 to 1931 when Reverend R. E. Southcott was the minister, the church was in the depths of the depression and in debt. The suggestion was made that the Presbytery be asked for closure, but not without consent of members and adherents. A circular letter went out explaining the situation. Then each organization of the church set an objective for funds. The canvassers and the interviewers went out among the people. Ninety percent of those interviewed were determined to have the church remain open. At the end of the canvass the debt was paid with nearly $500 as a surplus.

Throughout the past one hundred years the faithful members handed down precious memorabilia, things which are treasured and must be preserved for the future. Two of our men, Wray Winters and Douglas Smith, made a beautiful cabinet in which to keep our treasures safe and on display. As these things are viewed the realization comes that the congregation of the Morpeth Church has been and is open to God’s guidance and will continue with renewed strength and following His will, are assured that the next one hundred years will be ever greater than the last.

organist Mrs. Douglas Smith, Morpeth United Church…next chapter…

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3 thoughts on “As the Story is Told: Historical Sketch of Church Life, Part II

  1. Pingback: As the Story Is Told: Rock Auction | The Farmhouse Chronicles

  2. Pingback: As the Story is Told: Historical Sketch of Church Life, Part I | The Farmhouse Chronicles

  3. Pingback: As the Story is Told: The Old Rockey House | The Farmhouse Chronicles

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