Glenburnie United Church

since 1857


Glenburnie is situated between the Perth and Battersea Roads, on the 6th Concession Road, Township of Kingston, now City of Kingston since amalgamation in 1998. The name Glenburnie came from the Scottish farmers who settled the area: Glen, a shady nook, and Burn, a stream. In 1900 the population stood at approximately 200.

The history of Glenburnie United Church and its people begins long before the present church, built in 1995, and even a number of years before the construction of the stone church in 1857.

The earliest records of the Church in this area go back to the time of the itinerant preachers. Itinerant preachers generally had a hard and lonely life. They were a people devoted to their faith, who travelled through the wilderness, on foot or horseback, guided by blazed trees. They often slept out of doors and preached in schoolhouses, settlers' cabins, or in the open air. The first circuit riders in Canada were Episcopal Methodists from the United States. William Losee was the first Episcopal Methodist itinerant preacher serving in this area, the Bay of Quinte Circuit, which he formed in 1790. This circuit was very large and included five townships, Kingston and Area being one of them. Under Losee's guidance the first Methodist Church in Canada was built, in 1792 at Hay Bay.

Though most of the first circuit riders were American Episcopal Methodists, some groups of Loyalists had been accompanied by Wesleyan preachers in the late 1700's. During the War of 1812, when many Episcopal Methodists were unable to carry on, the British Wesleyans began sending missionaries to Canada. Following the war, the Episcopals renewed their efforts in Canada. In 1828 the Methodist Episcopal Church in Canada was formed as a separate unit from the American based church. The British Wesleyans joined this body in 1833, but the union did not last, and the Methodist Episcopal Church reorganized in 1834. This division lasted until the union of Methodists in 1884.

In the 1830's the Methodists in Glenburnie were on the Waterloo Circuit. In 1834 there were 713 members on the circuit. In 1835 a split occurred in the congregation when 300 members went out to join the newly formed Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1868 the Waterloo Circuit became the Cataraqui Circuit.

Ministers Serving on the Waterloo Circuit 1831 to 1857

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It is difficult to determine an approximate beginning date for the formation of a permanent congregation in the Glenburnie area. However, the Missionary Society Annual Reports of the 1830's record such familiar names as Waggoner and Spooner. Early records record the names of ministers who served on the Waterloo Circuit from 1831 to 1857, the year of the building of the stone church in Glenburnie.

On June 9, 1857, a Memorial Deed was granted the Glenburnie Wesleyan Methodist Church Congregation for a plot of land donated by Reuben Spooner Sr. and his wife Margaret Louisa C. Spooner. Reuben Spooner was born in 1803 in Chateauguay, Quebec, and died in Glenburnie in 1881. In part, the deed is worded as follows:

The Parcel or Tract of Land situate in the Sixth Concession of the Township of Kingston, County of Frontenac, Province of Canada, one-quarter of an acre, on the East half of lot No. Twenty Eight, on the South West Corner of the said half of the said lot.

The Rev. George Playter was the senior minister on the Waterloo Circuit and his signature appears on the deed from Mr. Reuben Spooner. The first Trustees of the Glenburnie congregation named in the Memorial Deed were:

  1. Reuben Dawson
  2. Irvine Lattimor
  3. William Lattimor
  4. John Simpson
  5. Barnabus Spooner
  6. Niram Spooner
  7. Christopher Vanluven
  8. Emmanuel Waggoner

The Wesleyan Methodist congregation built the small stone church, the first to be built in the Glenburnie area. (The stone church still stands today, though now it is used as a private residence.) The founders and trustees of the Wesleyan Methodist congregation turned out with trowels and other tools to assist the stone masons and carpenters with the work. The pews were hand crafted and were in use until the Church was refurbished in 1969 through 1971. The old pews were made less uncomfortable by the use of cushions. Each family usually provided their own cushion, but all were of the same style.

Minutes of a Kingston District Annual Meeting held May 27, 1857, record the building on the Waterloo Circuit of a stone church, valued at 200 Pounds, on a church lot which had been donated as a gift. An announcement of the dedication of the church is recorded in the Christian Guardian, the Methodist weekly. (The Christian Guardian was first published in 1829 and continued to speak for Methodism until 1925.) The following notice appeared in the Christian Guardian on September 8, 1858.

Church Dedication

The new stone church in Glenburnie, Kingston Township, will be opened for Divine Service on Sabbath, September 12th, 1858, when sermons will be preached (D.V.) as follows: In the morning at 10 1/2 by the Rev. Dr. Evans, in the afternoon at 2 by the Rev. W. Stephenson and in the evening at 6 o'clock by the Rev. J. E. Sanderson, M.A.

Wm. Stephenson

Ministers Serving Glenburnie Church 1857 to 1884

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During the 1860's, the Kingston District Minutes record the Waterloo Circuit as having one minister and one travelling preacher. As a rule the second name appearing on the list of ministers from 1857 to 1884 is that of the younger man, many of whom are listed as being on trial. It suggests that young preachers had to prove themselves before they would be recommended by the District Meeting.

The concept of church union has always been an important feature of our history. In 1866 the Wesleyan Methodists "expressed their conviction as to desirability and importance of union". The Waterloo Circuit, of which Glenburnie was a part, became known as Cataraqui in 1868. In 1874 three Wesleyan Methodist branches united to form the Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada and two smaller branches formed the Methodist Church. This union existed until the formation of the United Church of Canada in 1925.

After the union of the Methodist denominations in 1884 Glenburnie Church became part of the Inverary Circuit, along with Latimer and Inverary. Glenburnie and Latimer were Wesleyan Methodist, and Inverary was Methodist Episcopal. At Inverary the initials "ME" were indicated in the stone over the doorway. (Follow the link to see a record of the ministers who served the Inverary Circuit from 1885 until 1925, the year of United Church union.)

Ministers Serving on the Inverary Circuit 1885 to 1925

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In 1903 a small Presbyterian church was constructed on land donated by William J. Blacklock. The architect was Mr. Storey. Up to this time services were held in the Orange Hall and the minister was Rev. F. Davey. The church was opened for worship on the first Sunday of October, 1903, and continued to be used until 1925 when, with the formation of the United Church of Canada, the Presbyterian congregation joined with the Methodist congregation. The building was then sold to the United Farmers of Ontario and later given to the Women's Institute, who took a lease on the building in 1958 and received a deed in 1966. It was used for kindergarten classes by the Public School Board of Education. It remained vacant for a time, after which the building and land were donated by the Women's Institute to make more space for the new church (1995) grounds. At this time the building was demolished and the existing United Church was built. Some of the original beams, one of the windows and some of the original brick were used to form the east wall of the Conference Room. The Women's Institute hold their monthly meetings in the church (1995) Conference Room.

In 1925 the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational Churches joined to form the United Church of Canada. The Inverary Circuit was brought into the union by Rev. George A. Adamson and the congregation of the local Presbyterian Church came to join the Glenburnie Methodist congregation.

In June of 1931 the Glenburnie Women's Association was formed. The first meeting was held at the home of Mrs. R. J. Vair, who was elected President. Mrs. A. J. Craig was Secretary.

In 1944 hydro and electric fixtures were installed by the Coulter family, in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Benson Coulter and Willard Coulter. This provided adequate and effective lighting where previously wall bracket lamps with reflectors which burned coal oil had been used.

On November 22, 1954, a painting, Christ in Gethsemane by Ole Jonassen of Sydenham, was dedicated by Dr. W.E.L. Smith. After church redecoration in 1969 this mural was hung above the stage in the Sunday School Hall. It now hangs on the south wall of the hall in the new (1995) church.

In 1953, through the efforts of the Women's Association, the church was redecorated and in 1956 the Glenburnie Church Hall Committee was formed to arrange for building additional accommodation for a growing church community. The architect was Wilfred Sorensen. On June 30, 1957, 2:30 p.m., marking Glenburnie's 100th Anniversary, the new Church Hall was dedicated with Rev. Frederick Hewitt officiating. The Salvation Army Band assisted in the ministry of music.

In the Fall of 1961 the Women's Association amalgamated with the Women's Missionary Society to form the United Church Women. The first meeting was held in January of 1962.

Glenburnie, Inverary and Latimer remained together as a Pastoral Charge until 1968 when a realignment of country churches by the Kingston Presbytery closed the Latimer Church. The Latimer Congregation amalgamated with the Glenburnie Congregation. Inverary and Battersea formed a pastoral charge and Glenburnie and Kingscourt United Church, Kingston, Ontario, formed a pastoral charge. In 1968 Glenburnie became part of a two-point charge with Kingscourt United.

In 1969 a Committee was formed to refurbish the church. At this time the interior was completely restored. Windows and wainscoting were stripped and stained, walls were plastered and papered, and ceiling lighting and carpet installed. New pews and choir pews replaced the old with the addition of wooden fronts to the choir loft and organ area. On April 25, 1972, a Communion Table given by the Glenburnie United Church Women, the Women's Institute and the Choir, and as well, a Cross donated in memory of Mrs. Sarah Joyner. The Cross replaced the existing mural which was then moved to the Sunday School Hall.

In January, 1973, a Committee was formed to administer the Dr. and Mrs. Smith Tribute Fund to build a steeple to honour Dr. and Mrs. W. E. L. Smith for their years of devoted service to the Glenburnie Church community. The large cast iron steeple bell came from a church in Rockport, Ontario, that had been closed. The bell was dedicated, and rung for the first time, on September 2, 1973, by Dr. W. E. L. Smith. The bell was re-installed at the new church built in 1995 and is still in use.

On March 28, 1979, Glenburnie became a single point charge with Rev. E. C. Davey as Minister.

On September 1, 1979, Rev. Edward J. Kersey was inducted as the first minister to the new Glenburnie Pastoral Charge. At this time a manse was constructed on Unity Road. On May 31, 1981, the ground breaking ceremony took place. Following much arduous work by the Stewards and dedicated volunteers assisting the contractors, Rev. and Mrs. Kersey moved into the manse on December 2nd, 1981. On December 6th, 1981, dedication of the new Glenburnie United Church Manse took place. The spade used in sod turning was donated with an engraved plaque commemorating the occasion.

1982 marked the 125th Anniversary of the Glenburnie United Church. Some of the highlights of the year were:

In January, 1988, the need for expanded facilities to meet the needs of a growing church community in Glenburnie and surrounding area was recognized and at a Congregational Annual Meeting a Visioning/Long Range Planning Building Committee was formed. Rev. Ted Kersey retired on August 31, 1988, and Rev. Steve Lawson, a former student minister at Glenburnie United Church, began his new appointment in November, 1988.

A Steering Committee and a Fund Raising Committee were also formed. The new church was financed by a loan from the United Church of Canada, monies from the sale of the stone church, members' loans and fund raising.

On April 9, 1995, Palm Sunday, a Ground Breaking Ceremony took place for the new church and construction of the new facility was begun on a three acre, donated, site. The architect was Robert J. Crothers.

Ministers Serving Glenburnie United Church 1925 to Present

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Building costs were reduced by many thousands of dollars with the aid of volunteer help from the church membership. Many men and women of the congregation volunteered their time, energy and skills by painting, staining, millwork, door hanging, carpentry, installing choir seats, furnishings for the Chancel, stenciling in the nursery and kitchen, shelving in the minister's office, the Memorial Cabinet at the front entrance, the brick wall in the conference room and demolition and clean up of the Women's Institute Hall.

Under the guidance of Rev. Steve Lawson, the Planning/Building Committee and its companion committees, the Steering Committee and the Fund Raising Committee, as well as the congregation, the new church building became a reality in 1995.

On September 24, 1995, dedication took place of a new datestone placed at the entrance of the new church, and as well the date stone from the stone church, which was also placed at the entrance, which reads 1857 - 1995. A scroll placed in the cabinet in the front vestibule reads, "The datestone in this commemorative wall was removed from the original Glenburnie United Church after the de-commissioning service, September 24, 1995."

On October 22, 1995, the Closing Ceremony for the stone church built in 1857 took place with a symbolic walk to the new site where the new building was now under construction. From October 22nd, 1995, to December 3rd, 1995, the temporary worship place was at the Fairmount Home Auditorium.

Supervising and Interim Ministers

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On December 10, 1995, the new church building, built on one level with a traditional sanctuary, large meeting/dining hall, kitchen, nursery, offices, library and conference room, was dedicated to the glory of God and the ministry of Jesus in the Glenburnie community. The guest speaker for the opening worship service was Rev. Dr. H. Llewellyn, Principal of Theology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. At the opening worship service, the new pulpit was dedicated to the reading and preaching of God's Holy Word.

In 1995, with additional space within the new church building, the Library was reopened. Three pine shelving units, a display-storage unit and a 15-drawer card file cabinet were added at the new location. In 1998 there were 27 donated books and 14 purchased books. At the end of 1999 there were 462 books, 18 videos, some resource materials, current and past copies of the Observer and Mandate, and past copies of other periodicals. In 2000 a card catalogue was placed in the Library and in 2001 computer software was installed for cataloging and labeling. Each year the Canadian Church calendar has been available for sale to the congregation.

Voluntary Associate Ministers

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With a membership of about 250, Glenburnie United Church ministers to about 140 families. Follow the link to see a record of those who have served Glenburnie as ministers of the United Church of Canada. Since many of the ministers called to serve from 1947 to 1968 were students, Dr. W. E. L. Smith acted as Supervising Minister. As well as Dr. Smith, there have been other Supervising and Interim Ministers associated with Glenburnie United Church. Over the years we have also had several Voluntary Associate Ministers who have given Glenburnie United Church their dedicated assistance and support. Glenburnie United Church has been very fortunate to have had an inspiring and sincere group of student ministers pass through its doors. Without fail they have made themselves available for any responsibility that has been requested of them.

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