While parts of Ontario near the Great Lakes
had been settled for some time, it wasn't until after the war of 1812-14
that pioneers started chopping out farms in districts farther inland.
About this time dedicated young ministers of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the U.S. decided to obey the command, "Go ye into all the world", so crossed the border and began organizing groups of settlers for worship. These groups, small at first, gradually expanded and in time formed Methodist congregations.
That seems to have been what happened in this community. The first public service is said to have been held at Mark's Corners but no facts are available and no mention of a congregation being started, so possibly the congregation started in Shaw's log school in 1846, may have been the first. This log school was situated only a few yards south of the present Bethel cemetery.
“Some of the most enthusiastic church goers used to walk from west of the present station and cross the rapids on stepping stones and very often at high water would remove their shoes and stockings to save getting them wet, and repeat the process on their way home. They walked to Mark's Corner where there was a Methodist Church.
Some time later there were preaching services in the log school. These were the first public services in the community.”
On the Shores of Scugog, Samuel Farmer, 1934
In 1828 the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada was founded. Five years later in 1833 this church united with the Wesleyan Methodists of England but in 1834 the Methodist Episcopal Church was reconstituted. It was to this branch of Methodism that Bethel and Seagrave Churches belonged until the union of all Methodism in 1884.
Services continued here for about 15 years, then in 1860 pioneer John Shaw donated a triangular bit of land across the road from his home, to be used as the site of a church and cemetery. The congregation responded to his generosity so Shaw's church was started almost at once and completed in 1863. Services continued in this church (later named Bethel) until 1912 when the membership was transferred to Seagrave Church. Sunday school continued here for several years under the leadership of Mr. John Mark but closed and the church sold in 1928. The old Bethel cemetery still remains but no burials have taken place in many years. Names prominent in Bethel records are Shaw, Sleep, Moon, Rose and Purdy.
Just when work was begun in Seagrave is not known but is thought to have been 1867 or perhaps as late as 1870. The first church and parsonage were built in 1875 on the lot at 14 Isabella Court, Seagrave. Unfortunately the parsonage was burned and had to be replaced by the present house which served as a home for ministers until amalgamation in 1965.
Four years later in 1888 Layton was added to the circuit and Pleasant Point joined with Little Britain. Layton belonged to the Seagrave Circuit until 1905-06 when the church was sold. About 1911-12 the name Bethel disappeared from the records when preaching services were discontinued and its members transferred to Seagrave. From then on the Circuit was composed of Seagrave, Zion and Pleasant Point.
Soon after the parsonage was erected on the present site but it burned in 1892 during the pastorate of Rev. T. W. Leggott. The parsonage was rebuilt in 1893 when the minister was Rev. G. H. Kenny. The contractor and builder was Mr. John Stovin, of Port Perry.
As population increased there was a need for a larger and better church so in 1906 the congregation decided to re-build. The minister at the time was Rev. W.J. Young and the building committee consisted of - Robert Thompson, W.J. Gibson, John Wells, W.J. Rogers, John Brown, and Richard Reynolds.
The first sod was turned by Mr. C.W. Moon with his team and plow under direction of Mr. Robert Thompson. The corner stone was laid by Mr. W.L. King and so the work began. Unfortunately Rev. Young became ill and dedication expected in 1906 had to be postponed until Oct. 19 and 20, 1907, with Rev. R. Williams of Hamilton as guest speaker on Sunday and the ladies serving supper on Monday.
Since then there have been many changes. The advent of Church Union in 1925 didn't make much difference in the membership, but saw the beginning of the church session which changed the responsibilities of the former stewards, making the session responsible for worship, use of the church, music etc. while the stewards look after finances.
On October 7, 1964, a meeting of the Seagrave Official Board was held with Rev. K. Crawford Chairman of Lindsay Presbytery Property and Boundaries Committee. The decision of the meeting was to meet with the Pinedale and Greenbank Churches with the view of Seagrave becoming an appointment on the Greenbank Charge. Following a number of meetings between the Churches involved, the following recommendations were presented to Presbytery, and approved. The following excerpts are copied from the Lindsay Presbytery minutes of Feb. 26, 1965.
"That there no longer be a Seagrave Pastoral Charge after June 30, 1965. That the Seagrave Church become an appointment on the Greenbank Charge, along with Pinedale Church and Greenbank Church on July 1, 1965. That the name Greenbank be the name of this Pastoral Charge, and that the Minister at Greenbank, the Rev. David Harris, be the Minister of the Charge. That the appreciation of the Presbytery be extended to the Ministers and Congregations of the Seagrave, and Little Britain and Greenbank Charges for their readiness to discuss the problems, the friendliness of the meetings, and mutual good-will expressed in their deliberations. It was a happy experience to work with them. That the Presbytery express its very best wishes to the Rev. Eustace and Mrs. McNeil as they retire from the active ministry and reside in their new home in Seagrave. May God's blessing, and the Presbytery's affection be with them".
Viewed from the outside, the church has changed only a little since 1906, just different colours on the trim and roof. Inside, the changes have been astonishing. We are indebted to Mr. & Mrs. Robert Thompson for pulpit chairs, to the Quadrata girls club for a memorial window, to Mr. and Mrs. C. Sleep for a baptismal font, and to Mrs. E. McNeil for a window in memory of her husband. A piano was donated by Mrs. Heather Kellington in memory of her husband, Bruce. In 2003, the Boe family donated a new stained glass window in memory of their parents, Orville and Rita Boe, long time proprietors of the general store. In 2004, the new well was dedicated. The appreciation of the church community is extended to all who contributed to or assisted with this project. The many people whose gifts have added to the appearance of the sanctuary, and to all who have been involved through the years in such projects as hydro installation, insulating, carpeting, new furnaces, organs, washrooms, kitchen improvements, re-decorating, providing hymn books and service books, your contributions have helped make Seagrave United Church the inviting place of worship that it is after 100 years of service to this community.
The Diamond Jubilee was celebrated on September 24, 1967 under the leadership of Rev. David J. Harris. Rev. George Davison, Melville Pastoral Charge, spoke at the morning service and Rev. J. K. Braham, M.A., B.D., Chairman of Lindsay Presbytery spoke in the evening.
The 80th Anniversary was celebrated on September 28, 1986. Rev. David Shepherd led the service. Rev Jack Roundell was guest speaker. Rev. Roundell was a formerly a minister at Greenbank.
The very Rev. Dr. Lois M. Wilson, one of Canada's outstanding church leaders, spoke at a special service at Seagrave United Church on Sunday, March 29, 1987 at 7:30 p.m. Her topic was "The Woman Who Talked Back to Jesus." Dr. Wilson, a past moderator of the United Church of Canada, and a co-director of the Ecumenical Forum of Canada, a centre for research, dialogue and study on the work of the church in the world. She was also one of seven Presidents of the World Council of Churches, headquartered in Geneva.
The 80th Anniversary of the United Church was celebrated in 2005. Members of the congregation dressed as in 1925 to add interest to this day. Rita Procopchuk presented a banner to the church that commemorated this day.
In 2005, due to the closing of Pinedale United Church, the Greenbank Charge was reduced to only Greenbank and Seagrave.
In 2006 100th Anniversary of Seagrave United Church was celebrated. Rev. Nancy Knox's was our guest speaker. See pictures click PICTURES.
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