Every 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. This week describes the centennial celebrations at both of Morpeth’s churches. This is of special interest to me, because I was born in 1977, and was given a plaque as Morpeth United Church’s Centennial Baby. Another thing caught my eye – the 1902 glass communion set – I still remember trying to drink the last drop of grape juice out of these tiny glasses, crafted asymmetrically from thick glass. I have already shared pamphlets from the United Church’s previous celebrations in 1927 and 1952 here.
Church Centennial Services – 1977
For the small village of Morpeth, the year of 1977 was one long to be remembered. It was in this year, that the people here had the opportunity of celebrating the One Hundredth Anniversary of both of its churches, the St. John’s Anglican and the Morpeth United. During the year there were several occasions when they were reminded of the many changes that had taken place and were brought to realize and cherish the memories of former years.
St. John’s Anglican Churches
It was June 12th that the congregation of St. John’s Anglican Church chose as their special day of celebration. On that day a warm welcome was extended, by the Rector Rev. Gary Oldridge, to many former rectors, parishioners and friends.
The guest speaker for the day was the retired Suffragan Bishop of Huron, The Right Reverend Wm. Townshend. Special music for the day was provided by the organist, Mrs. Kai Trudgen, Mr. Michael Sherlock of Chatham and Miss Mary Ashton (Izawa). Mary’s parents and grandparents Mr. And Mrs. N. S. Wade, had been very active members of the church for many years.
For the occasion the church bulletin board displayed several pictures, old Bibles and hymn books of former days. Flowers on the altar and in the chancel were placed in loving memory by families and friends of Mr. and Mrs. William Trudgen, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Early, Mr. and Mrs. George Puttock, Mr. and Mrs. A. N. Liebner, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Coll, Miss Jenny and Mr. John McDonald.
After the service everyone was invited to a luncheon at the Morpeth Hall. Here everyone enjoyed the opportunity to renew many old friendships. The afternoon ended with the cutting and serving of the anniversary cake marking the one hundred years of service.
Morpeth United Church
The Morpeth United Church Centennial Committee planned a series of special events over several months to mark this great milestone in their history.
The first of the special occasions was a Centennial Communion Service on January 9th, conducted by the minister of the church Rev. H. S. Summers. This service followed the old Methodist tradition, using a 1902 glass communion set. Guests were present from neighbouring churches and lunch was served providing a time of fellowship.
The Easter Service on April 10th began with an early morning Sunrise Service followed by a breakfast served by the church ladies. The eleven o’clock service included the dedication of donations and gifts given as memorials of loved ones, all given to the glory of God for the enrichment of His worship and beauty of His house.
Memorials and gifts dedicated on this day were as follows:
- The Cross on the Communion Table in loving memory of Mrs. Archie McDiarmid and Family.
- The Chrome Communion Plates in loving memory of Mrs. Laura Early, presented by Miss Anne Early.
- The Display Cabinet in loving memory of Ronald L. Smith and Mr. & Mrs. Geo. Mills, presented by Mr. & Mrs. James Smith.
- The Cross on the front of the Church in loving memory of Mr. & Mrs. S. W. Smith, presented by Mr. & Mrs. Max Smith and Miss Madeleine Smith.
- The Front Doors in loving memory of Mr. & Mrs. Henry Spencer and Mr. & Mrs. George Moore, presented by Mr. & Mrs. Henry Moore.
- A Window in loving memory of Miss Donna Smith and Mrs. Laura Early, presented by Mr. & Mrs. Harvey Smith
- A Window in loving memory of Mr. & Mrs. William Street and Mr. & Mrs. William Stinson, presented by Dr. & Mrs. Gordon Gilbertson
- Silver Chalice and Crystal Chalice presented by Mr. John Lewis.
To be presented:
- A Pulpit Bible in loving memory of Mrs. Florence Harvey, presented by Mr. & Mrs. Max Smith, Stephen, Janet and Lisa.
- A Church Guest Book in loving memory of April Mills, presented by Mr. & Mrs. Mike Mills
- A Pulpit Antependium in loving memory of Mrs. Laura Early, presented by Mr. & Mrs. Dale Smith, Miss Cheryl Smith and Miss Laurie Smith.
- The One Hundredth Anniversary Service on May 8th got off to a good start when many people, during the morning, crowded the church to view old pictures, quilts, and mementos of the past one hundred years. Here again many old acquaintances were renewed and past memories brought to mind.
After lunch, served at the Morpeth Hall, the streets were lined with people to watch what turned out to be a very impressive parade. A long string of antique cars with passengers dressed in fashions of a hundred years ago; horse-drawn buggies and decorated bicycles; and a variety of floats, some carrying Sunday School children, others a church choir and still others board members dressed in suits of top hats and tails, all wended their way along. As a travelling minister on horseback, Rev. Summers led this parade through the streets to the Morpeth United Church where he participated in a special service to mark their One Hundredth Anniversary.
Rev. Maurice Boyd of Metropolitan United Church, London was the guest speaker at this three o’clock service. Special music for the day was provided by the choir under the direction of Mrs. Douglas Smith.
After the service Rev. Summers rededicated the cornerstone assisted by Michael Kimmerly and Henry Moore, descendants of the original builders of the church (Henry Wilkinson and Henry Spencer). It was rededicated in loving memory of those pioneer men and women whose love for God, and the spiritual welfare of their children and their children’s children, caused this church to be built.
Other events followed on through the summer months with the Father’s Day Service under the direction of the Erieview A.O.T.S. Men’s Club. Rev. C. M. Jardine, a former minister, was guest speaker. The Annual Country Fair carried on the centennial theme with their many booths and country style supper. A community Cemetery Memorial Service was held in August with an offering taken for the upkeep of the cemetery.
The Church Sunday School had their special day, to add to the Centennial Celebrations, on September 15th with their Rally Day Service. On this day, the Sunday school combined with the church and had as their speaker Miss Jana Lyn Stewart (Rutledge), a former Sunday School member. Jana Lyn reminisced about the many memories she had of Morpeth church and community, having attended Trinity School. She especially recalled playing around the huge auction rock that stands in the church yard. Her talk for the service was very fittingly entitled “The Rock.”
On October 12th, the ladies gathered to attend a United Church Women’s Centennial Birthday Party. This party was to follow the tradition established by the Women’s Missionary Society, back in 1934. The Women’s Missionary Society in 1955, joined with the United Church Women of the church.
During the meeting Mrs. Robert McKinlay gave special tribute to all former ladies of the church, who were so dedicated and worked so diligently.
A Christmas Communion served as a fitting conclusion for their centennial activities. Here many took the opportunity to share in the sacred hour of fellowship. A special thanks was expressed on behalf of the congregation of the church to all those who had helped during the year to make this a time in which they were able to share their joys, their heritage and their faith.