A Short History of St. Andrew’s-Knox Presbyterian Church
1835 – Under the leadership of Reverent Robert Boyd, the first church, “The Log Church”, was built (date unknown); its dedication was in 1835. The “Charge” consisted of Spencer’s Mills (Spencerville), Raney’s Corners (Mainsville), and Port Elgin (Cardinal). These were all log churches and the Union lasted until 1846.
1837 – The Second church was built. For some years, the only seats in this stone church were planks set upon blocks.
1837-1846 – The Congregation became part of the Free Church of Scotland.
1855 – The congregation was split for a time, with some following Rev. Hugh Brown and holding services in the Town Hall. They later rejoined the other Presbyterians in the stone church.
1855-1875 – Spencerville and Port Elgin were combined to make a double charge. Raney’s Corners was dropped from the circuit. After Church Union in 1875, however, Port Elgin was joined to Iroquois and Raney’s Corners and Spencerville combined.
1876 – Spencerville saw the need for a larger building.
1877 – The one-gable stone church was torn down and the third church erected., built out of cut stone, and capable of seating 450 people. Much of the work was done by volunteer labour. The cornerstone was laid by Reverend Dey. The cost was $10,000.
That same year, people from the Ventnor area decided to leave the Spencerville church and build a stone church of their own in Ventnor. The new pastoral church was now Spencerville-Ventnor and Raney’s Corners was again dropped from the Spencerville charge, joining with Cardinal.
1878 – Both buildings – Knox and St. Andrew’s – were dedicated. The cost of Knox was $1983.00
Both congregations continued to grow and thrive in their respective communities. During ensuing years, they overcame hardships in the form of the war years and the upheaval of church union in 1925 when church families were disrupted. Still they persevered, continuing to hold their fundraising dinners. Every person had a job to do. There were musical celebrations when the St. Andrew’s church would be filled to the rafters and Knox would bulge at the seams.
1893 – Presbyterians from Roebuck decided to build their own church instead of coming to Spencerville, so the pastoral charge became Spencerville-Ventnor-Roebuck.
1925 – Church Union. Congregations had to vote on whether to join with the Methodist and Congregational churches, creating a new united church, or not. Spencerville voted to remain Presbyterian by a majority of 3 votes, and were able to hold onto their property rights and organization. Those who voted in favour of church union left, creating the United Church.
The vote in Roebuck was in favour of church union. The church building was lost but individual Presbyterians from Roebuck rejoined the church in Spencerville. The people in Ventor were able to continue to function as an organized congregation, but issues emerged surrounding ownership of the church building and manse. Spencerville was once again a two-point pastoral charge.
St. Matthew’s, East Oxford joined the ranks in 1925. The minister held three services on a Sunday, as well as evening services at St. Andrew’s.
Young people’s groups staged entertaining plays and travelled to nearby communities. There were also Sunday School Christmas concerts, Bible classes, the choir practices, Women’s Missionary Society and the Ladies Aid which held the churches together.
1927 – Spencerville celebrated its Golden Jubilee, and the church was renamed “St. Andrew’s.”
1928 – Legal claims by the Ventnor United Church against the Ventnor Presbyterian Church were resolved. The Ventnor congregation reopened their church and renamed it “Knox.”
1960s – St. Matthew’s congregation closed in the mid-1960s.
1974 – On October 13th, in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning, the fire siren rang out and St. Andrew’s was reduced to rubble. Only the sound, stone walls remained.
Spencerville United Church opened their doors to the St. Andrew’s congregation, giving us free use of their facilities as needed. Until our church could be rebuilt, we worshipped with Knox Ventnor, just as Knox members had worshipped with St. Andrew’s in 1925. With the help of many people in the community and throughout the rest of Canada, and under the leadership of Reverend Larry Cowper, the church was rebuilt as we have it today.
1976 – The rebuilt sanctuary and Cowper Hall (named in honour of the Rev. and Mrs. Cowper for their untiring work in rebuilding the church) were dedicated in 1976.
1977 – Special mention needs to be made of the steeple. Mr. Harold Connell donated the money needed to restore the silver-toned bell and steeple. Mr. William Hooper Sr. and his son, William Jr. built a steeple similar to the one desroyed, and the bell was replaced with an electric Carrillon system. The steeple and bell were dedicated in 1977.
1990 – In January, Knox Ventnor amalgamated with St. Andrew’s, Spencerville and the two are now called St. Andrew’s-Knox. The “Charge” now consisted of St. Andrew’s-Knox, Spencerville, and St. Andrew’s, Prescott, under the leadership of Reverend Ian MacLean.
2018 – The Reverend Ian MacLean retired after many years of service.
The two congregations join together in the summer for an outdoor worship and picnic. During Easter Sunday, all join for an informal sunrise service and breakfast at St. Andrew’s-Knox, followed by a traditional Easter Morning Service at St. Andrew’s, Prescott. We always enjoy the beautiful music of Eugene Janssens on the grand pipe organ at St. Andrew’s in Prescott.
May we keep this legacy alive for many years to come.
Submitted by Gloria P.