This year marks the 175th anniversary of the founding of St. Andrew’s United Church in Pakenham. Since that first gathering, subsequent generations have continued the tradition of worship with determination, faith, love and a strong sense of community. To this day outreach remains the heart and soul of their faith family. It is with that sense of community and outreach that they invite everyone to join with them on Sunday, October 18 when this year of celebration will culminate with their anniversary service. The morning will begin at 10 a.m. with Coffee Hour followed at 11 by worship. As well as special music by Marty and Doug Russell, this is your opportunity to meet and listen to their new minister, Rev. Jeff de Jonge. The following Saturday, October 24, their annual turkey supper will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m., a delicious tradition not to be missed.
Early settlers, mainly from Ireland and Scotland, first arrived in the area in the early 1820s. After having made the treacherous trip across the Atlantic, up the St. Lawrence by steamer to Brockville, they then travelled by foot to Perth and finally though rough forest trails to their parcels of land in Pakenham. At that time both Methodist and Presbyterian preachers travelled throughout the area holding services for these pioneers in their homes, school houses and even outdoors. By the 1830s a Methodist congregation had been established in Cedar Hill and a Presbyterian congregation in Ramsay. In those days even those from as far as Pakenham would travel by foot through the backwoods to attend worship in their respective faiths. A Presbyterian church was built in the village in 1838 where visiting ministers led worship. It wasn’t until 1840 when a Kirk Session (the first court of the Presbyterian Church) was formed to procure their own minister for a congregation that became known as St. Andrew’s. Various church buildings throughout the years provided places of worship for both the Methodist and Presbyterian congregations in the village.
Over the decades several changes in area Presbyterian and Methodist congregations helped to form St. Andrew’s into what it has become today. In 1854, following a dispute between Presbyterian Churches in Scotland, the Pakenham Presbyterians split and formed two separate congregations. It was almost 30 years before the congregations reunited. In 1925, a union between Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists became what is known today as the United Church of Canada. Pakenham’s Methodists and Presbyterians, undoubtedly being visionaries of their time, had actually amalgamated 5 years earlier in 1920. The Antrim congregation joined with St. Andrew’s in 1949, followed by Blakeney in 1968.
Since the very beginning when Rev. Dr. Alexander Mann arrived from Scotland in 1840, St. Andrew’s has been blessed with dedicated ministers. Rev. Mann served the people of St. Andrew’s for 42 years and left a great legacy of records of baptisms and marriages from those early days. These records have been indexed by the Kingston Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.
By the 1890s, Dalkeith Street was the location of both the Methodist parsonage and the Presbyterian manse. After union in the 1920s the Presbyterian manse was sold and the Methodist parsonage became the home of most succeeding ministers until it too was sold in 2011. Ministers in recent memory included Rev. Winfrid Henley (1953 – 1966), Rev. Harold Davies (1966-1971), Rev. Cecil Dodds (1972 – 1984), Rev. Walter Henry (1984 – 1985), Rev. Tom Lowry (1986 – 1991), Rev. Heather Kinkaid (1991 – 2008) and Rev. Debbie Roi (2008 – 2013). Rev. Camille Lipsett and Rev. Barry Goodwin served as temporary ministers while they awaited the appointment of Rev. Jeff de Jonge this past summer.