Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Harvesters

It's refreshing to read about a church that's celebrating an anniversary instead of closing. Harvesters Baptist Church at 9488 Westminster Drive is celebrating their building's 100th birthday with various special events from February 17 to the 25. As part of their anniversary celebrations, the congregation is recreating the original opening ceremonies, including tickets sold at the 1913 prices of 25 or 50 cents. They'll be wearing period costumes, serving old-fashioned scones, and might even use the same sermons.

Built in 1912 and opened in 1913, this church was originally Methodist and became part of the United Church of Canada in 1925. It was known for many years as Sharon Church, probably a reference to the Plain of Sharon mentioned in the Biblical book of Isaiah. It's been Harvesters Baptist Church since 1991.

Is this an extraordinary edifice? A great architectural treasure? No, just a simple country church that's been part of the county landscape for a century. Fun events like this help the congregation carry on by building a sense of community. Increasingly, this kind of morale-building is what it takes to keep an old church open. And there's an added bonus for history buffs - a heritage building in use is a heritage building preserved.

3 comments:

  1. If you check some history of the area you will find there was a town named Sharon.
    The closest paved road is the Sharon Rd.
    So this was the Sharon Church. I do like your theory though..

    The 1878 Historical Atlas has the details

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    1. Actually, I think the neighbourhood takes its name from the church, not the other way around. Sharon was not so much a town as a hamlet. There was a post office named Howlett, taken from the name of a local pioneering family. The first church in the area was called Howlett Church after Joseph Howlett who donated the land. The church changed its name to Sharon in 1897, perhaps feeling a Biblical name was more appropriate. Howlett post office closed in 1916, after which the Howlett name went out of use. See my book Vanished Villages of Middlesex, pp. 57-60.

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  2. The first Church at Sharon was called The Delaware Church. It was a Bible Christian Church and later became a Methodist Church and it was Methodist when the existing building was built in 1912 on the opposite corner of that intersection of what is today Woodhull Rd. and Westminster Drive. The Delaware Church was there before Howletts owned the land. Check the land registry office, it was bought from or donated by the previous owner before Howletts.

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