The History of Sidney Westminster United Church

Sidney Westminster Essentials

Location
1199 Wallbridge-Loyalist Rd.
Belleville, ON   K8N 4Z5

Phone: 613-968-4304
secretary@westminsteruc.ca

Office Hours
9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.,
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday

Handicap Access & Elevator
Nursery Facilities

Come worship with us:
Every Sunday 10:30 a.m.
Sunday School same time.

Our roots go back to the early 1800's when Methodism made its appearance into Sidney Township. Loyalists came from a varied background including various religious beliefs. It was the Methodists who decided to minister to the spiritual needs of the people. A circuit riding Methodist preacher went to the settlers and Methodism flourished.

In the early 1900's several United Churches in the area were thriving: Whites, Stone, Aikens, Wesley, Centenary, Wallbridge and Scott's. The church was the center of several local community activities with many concerts, chicken suppers and strawberry socials held to assist with finances. During the 1960's, the United Church was reorganizing pastoral charges with the trend toward consolidation. Congregations were declining and several small churches were closed.

Sidney Westminster United Church was truly a community project. There were numerous meetings of families of the seven small rural churches. Finally in 1968 the decision was made to build a new church however not all people associated with the seven small churches amalgamated with the future new church as some were already attending churches in the surrounding area.

The site for the new building was chosen for the accessibility and good view from both directions on what is now Wallbridge-Loyalist Road. The building is 40 feet by 90 feet with a seating capacity of 300 people and was built for approximately $113,000.00. Numerous church families contributed untold hours of labour to assist in reducing expenses and numerous donations of time, talent and gifts were generously given by members of the congregation.

The church was started under “Sidney United Church, Wallbridge Road” until a contest was organized to select a name for the new church and in November 1968 "Sidney Westminster United Church" was the chosen name. The sod turning ceremony was held on Sunday, April 20, 1969 at 2:30 p.m. At the opening of the church in December, approximately 60% of the church building was paid. On Sunday, December 7, 1969 "Sidney Westminster United Church" opened its doors under the ministry of Rev. John F. Bunner. It was a spiritually impressive sight when children from north and south churches met at the driveway and sang hymns as they entered the church as one body. Sidney Westminster was, and still is, a growing suburban congregation with many younger families attending.

After the official opening, the congregation watched as elder Bruce Holton, a descendant of Sir Mackenzie Bowell, Belleville Newspaper publisher and former Prime Minister of Canada, used his trowel to tap in the cornerstone of the new church. This was the same trowel used at the 1872 opening of the first Christian Bible Church in Belleville. The extension on the north side of the church was added in 1982 and included a sound proof nursery with a large viewing window and sound system, overflow area, and a minister's study in the upper area with classrooms and washrooms off the lower auditorium.

Over the years the congregation added a new organ, grand piano, new carpeting, sound system, new well, and paved parking lot. Beautiful stained glass windows were installed on the south side of the church with donations by church families in memory of loved ones.

On November 30, 1994 a devastating fire destroyed the lower auditorium and kitchen with extensive damage to the sanctuary. The entire church contents as well as the roof had to be replaced. This was a tremendous undertaking for the congregation and took nearly a year to complete, however due to the generosity of Loyalist College, here in Belleville, not one Sunday of worship was missed. Congregation members spent countless hours in meetings as decisions were made with much thought and prayer.

Their prayers and efforts were answered. We now have a beautifully 'renovated' church - which we lovingly call “the church in the cornfield.”

If you would like to know more about our church, please give the church office a call at 613/968-4304. We would be delighted to hear from you.

God Bless.