Fletcher Church
Presbyterian (1883-1925) / United (1925- )
Minister: The Rev. Bruce Fraser

Historical Background
of the Fletcher Church

November 4, 2007 marks the 123rd anniversary of the Fletcher Church, though the congregational roots date back to 1845.

The following is a "history" which was written by Mrs. D. Murray Fletcher, circa 1927.
It shows our "roots"; but come, see how we have changed in the subsequent 80 years.

In 1845 John Oswald and his family came from Scotland to Hamilton and thence to Tilbury East. Being an Elder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland and acquainted with Rev. McGale of Hamilton, he corresponded with Rev. McGale and told of the lack of a Presbyterian Church in the area. As a result of this correspondence the first Presbyterian Church of the area was formed at Valetta, Ontario.

The first services were held in the home of Angus Grant of Tilbury East. A log church was built in 1849 and in 1861 a new church was erected. The present church at Valetta was built in 1903. It is interesting to note that uniformly the Presbyterian Church believed in vocal music only, no instruments being allowed.

In the year 1861 the union of the Secession and Free Church took place, making Presbyterianism stronger. During the winter of 1875 under the ministry of Rev. William Forrest, assisted by Rev. F. Smith of Amherstburg, a great revival of religion took place, and many young people were added to the congregation. Due to overcrowding, church pews were assigned to each family to assure each family a place for Sunday worship.

In 1879 Rev. John Logie became minister and the new manse was built. At that time services were also held at a school near Fletcher. On 25 April 1882 a petition by Mr. F. B. Stewart and others called for a congregational meeting to appoint trustees and hold property for building a branch church. This request was agreed to on 15 October 1882. At a meeting the following trustees were appointed: Alexander Stevenson, Murray F. Gardiner, Matthew Campbell, George Struthers and David Fletcher.

On land belonging to Mr. W. C. Fletcher the branch church was built at Fletcher in 1883, at a cost of about $2400 and with much volunteer labour. Opening services were held on Sunday 4 November 1883. Rev. A. McColl of Chatham was the guest speaker. It is interesting to note that the church property was not bought and the deed not signed until 4 November 1890.

[Insert here picture of pre-1925 Church building]

In the Fletcher Church the Presbyterian Hymnal was first used in 1884, psalms and paraphrases having been used until that time. On 12 October 1884 the Lord's Supper was dispensed for the first time at the Fletcher Church.

In 1888 Rev. A. L. Manson, a student from Knox College, was ordained and inducted at Fletcher and during his ministry the Christian Endeavor movement was started and was very active. Through the years this group took on several names, the latest was the Fletcher Young Peoples' Union. Much of the debt on the manse was disposed of and the missionary spirit of the joint charge was such as to make it the second largest contributor in the Presbytery.

In 1889 church membership was signified by the introduction of church cards rather than tokens, and communion services alternated between Fletcher and Valetta.

In March 1889 a vote by ballot decided in favour of using an organ for services. Prior to this time a tuning fork was used and Mr. James Pirie had been precentor and music leader.

Mr. F. B. Stewart must have been involved in leading the musical portion of the services. When he left for Manitoba the Session records show a high regard for his years as an Elder, sixteen of them as Session Clerk. He taught the young folk to sing, worked in the Sunday School and in having the Fletcher Church established.

As far as can be determined Miss Bella Holmes was the first organist, followed by Mrs. Robert Moore Sr. and later by Miss E. M. Beattie.

November 30, 1899 saw the Induction of Rev. J. P. McQuarrie as minister, a position he held until 1920, a total of 21 years.

In March 1910 the envelope system of giving was introduced and proved very satisfractory. Mr. D. Murray Fletcher was envelope steward.

[Insert here small picture of post-1925 Church building]

Renovations on Fletcher Church took place in 1924 and re-opening services were held 25 January 1925. Rev. D. H. Marshall of Chatham was guest speaker. During the period of rebuilding the deed to the church property finally was registered. The cost of the renovation was $10994.34 as well as $3000 in volunteer labour. The building committee utilized the frame work of the old building instead of going on with plans for an entirely new church, which would have cost at least $20,000. The members of the committee were: J. H. Williams, D. Murray Fletcher, George Mancell, P. C. Stevenson, John Lecocq, George Laidlaw, William Moore, and David Fletcher.

Early in 1925 a vote was taken on church union and the Fletcher Presbyterian Church decided in favour of entering the United Church of Canada. These two congregations of Valetta and Fletcher, after an association of over forty years, were separated. This separation was made more poignant by the fact that the Valetta people had worked side by side with the Fletcher people to establish the Fletcher Church, both financially and with volunteer labour.

Rev. J. B. Townend tendered his resignation to Valetta and with its acceptance became Fletcher United Church's first minister.

Rev. Sidney Davison became minister at Fletcher in co-operation with Merlin United Church as a joint pastoral charge.

Further history, from 1925 to 1983, may be found in the Centennial History Booklet, of which copies might still be available.

Also see Valetta Presbyterian Church's 150th Anniversary History Book.

Ministers of Fletcher Church (Presbyterian)
1879 - 1887  Rev. John Logie
1888 - 1899  Rev. A. L. Manson
1899 - 1920  Rev. J. P. McQuarrie
1921 - 1923  Rev. John Galloway
1923 - 1925  Rev. J. B. Townend

Ministers of Fletcher Church (United)
1925 - 1925  Rev. J. B. Townend
1925 - 1927  Rev. Sidney Davison
1927 - 1931  Rev. Joseph Jones
1931 - 1935  Rev. George C. Mitchell
1935 - 1941  Rev. Harry B. Parnaby
1941 - 1949  Rev. Arthur E. Doan
1949 - 1951  Rev. W. Gray Rivers
1951 - 1958  Rev. A. S. Trueblood
1958 - 1959  Rev. E. A. Poulter, supply
1959 - 1963  Rev. L. H. Turner
1963 - 1967  Rev. Colin B. Grassie
1967 - 1968  Rev. O. R. Flindall, supply
1968 - 1972  Rev. W. E. Aldworth
1972 - 1979  Rev. H. E. J. Moorhouse
1979 - 1983  Rev. Bruce Guy
1983 - 1988  Rev. Harley Moore
1988 - 1990  Rev. Vernon Bell
1990 - 1996  Rev. Lloyd Coates
       1996 - 30 Oct.  2006  Rev. Henry Marissen
1 Nov. 2006 - 30 Sept. 2007  Rev. J. Lloyd G. Brown
  Oct. 2007 - __ June  2013  Rev. Bruce Fraser


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This page placed here 7 February 2007