By Chad Ingram
One of the oldest buildings in Haliburton County Minden’s St. Paul’s Anglican Church is celebrating its 150th birthday this year.
Its official birthday.
As congregation member and sesquicentennial celebrations chairman Gareth Kellett explains there is actually some debate as to precisely when the church started with the congregation forming and services taking place prior to the building itself being erected.
“They were held in schoolhouses or people’s homes or whatever” Kellett says.
While a provincial historical plaque outside the building reads that construction on the church began “about 1868” according to the records of the Anglican diocese the church was founded on July 16 1866 so that’s the date church members are going by Kellett says.
The plaque outside the church reads “In 1865 in response to a proposal of the Canadian Land and Emigration Company the Church of England in Canada established the Minden Mission. The company which had purchased 10 townships in the district agreed to assist in supporting a missionary and that same year the Reverend Frederick Burt was appointed. A native of England Burt had earlier served as missionary in Montreal and in Huntingdon Que. At the village of Minden which soon became the centre of his mission Burt first conducted services in a schoolhouse but about 1868 construction was begun on this simple frame church.”
Kellett explains the original structure would have been almost barn-like.
“They did work on it as they could afford it” Kellett says. Some time around the turn of the 20th century colourful stained glass windows and intricate wooden panelling were added to the gothic-style building.
Eventually a parish hall was added. Kellett explains the parish hall that exists today is actually the third one and that one of its predecessors was a three-storey building that was transported from Donald.
The church has been central to life in the village of Minden. The Minden Food Bank for example started as a cupboard in the church’s lower level in 1993.
The church hosted recording star Jane Siberry for a Christmas pageant this past December.
“For 150 years St. Paul’s has been at the heart of the community” says Rev. Joan Cavanaugh. “As our society and our culture changes we want to keep being relevant within the community offering worship service and reaching out to be the hands the feet and the voice of Christ. St. Paul’s wants to be vibrant committed culturally important and responsive to the needs of the community.”
The church operates a popular thrift shop providing affordable clothing and is constructing an addition.
The celebration of St. Paul’s sesquicentennial will take place throughout 2016 with a series of events.
Those events will kick off Sunday March 6 when Archbishop Colin Johnson will pay a visit. On May 15 past ministers and summer student ministers will gather and on July 10 Rev. Andrew Hutchison will visit. A community picnic is scheduled for July 23 and on Aug. 21 the Right Rev. George Elliot who was Bishop of Toronto from 2001 to 2012 will make an appearance. Celebrations will culminate with a visit from Archbishop Fred Hiltz on Thanksgiving.
Kellett is looking for any photos or other historical items related to the church to be used in displays.