The story of the church is a complex one. It involves hundreds of people both in and outside of Selkirk ON. Our story is told through world wars, depressions, whatever you want to call the 1980s... It involves Bible Colleges, Universities and church planters. We have taken in and sent out many people. How do you quantify a story like that? You certainly cannot contain it to one building. However, 20 Erie St N in Selkirk has provided this church with a home base for over a century. That is the story that is told here.
Our story actually begins back in the 1850s. At that time a Baptist pastor named Mcdogall had attended some restoration movement revival meetings in Wainfleet ON. This resulted in him converting, and practicing weekly communion, among other restoration movement teachings.
Mcdougall was dismissed from his position, but began a new church on some land donated by a Mr James Thompson. In 1854 that location became official, and the church was visited by two elders of the denomination James Black and Alexander Anderson.
The location and the charter members were all signed. Some of the signatory names can still be found in our congregation, such as Sherk, Hoover, Yaeger and others.
What began in those days was a desperate desire to follow the biblical teaching of the New Testament, and not the traditions of men. So with great enthusiasm our journey began!
Pictured here is the "White Church" that was donated in 1854.
As reported by the Disciples of Christ:A union Sunday School was organized, with popular appeal.
The church came into its most prosperous condition. Later, evangelists helped
it, such as C. W. Martz, 1885, James Lediard, 1887, A. H. Miller, Hugh
McDiarmid, Alanson Wilcox, H. B. Shermon, Andrew Scott and Dr. W. E. Macklin.
(Here we have Dr. Macklin as an evangelist about at the beginning of his long
career.) Twice Thomas Cooper paid the expenses of an American evangelist
brought in. The old church building also was re-conditioned, so that all was
Owing to some interior workings a fresh enthusiasm for church building was effective in 1898, when a new red brick church was built through usual co-operative efforts. Volunteer labor and sacrificially devoted materials, money also, were factors accounting for a fine new church edifice. Morgan Miller was chairman of the committee, and Sam. Fess and E. E. Phillips were aids. It reveals a beautiful spirit when a house of worship bears the marks of its user's hands. The Christian Endeavorers brought the whole to a crown in providing the bell. It can scarcely be omitted from this record that the new church was built to sustain the beliefs of a majority of the congregation as to "means" to be employed to sustain a church life. For long, opposite opinions had prevailed as to methods. One class objected to the vote of the congregation upon temporal matters; the other, more democratic, claimed the church had the right to decide upon temporalities and methods of church work. Both agree upon matters of grace and teach the same rules of faith and obedience. That conscience was the guide of both need not be denied; however, conscience is not the supreme guide. The division was not into two but three groups, and anti-organ groups met for years, mornings and afternoons, in another place of worship. What a tragedy that a body claiming to "rightly divide the Word" should in effect only divide the Lord's body over an opinion!
Many ministers have worked in this fruitful field since the original pioneers opened the way. Their names are not all available as no records seem to be preserved. But here is a partial list: W. G. Charlton, F. C. Ford, F. M. Field, Thos. W. Bradt, W. R. Macdowell, Angus Butler, Thomas Gray, H. Bruce Stainton (student 1928). The building work of M. B. Ryan, at both Selkirk and Sweet's Corners, has been outstanding. Abram Hurst has for very long served as elder. In 1943 Lloyd Hustler was serving as minister.
There became a recognition with the growth of the congregation that a permanent residence for the minister(s) present and future was going to be needed. Up until this point the church had always shared a minister with other churches in the area. So the church purchased the lot beside the church for a whopping $800.
During this time the congregation had become large enough and stable enough that in 1961 the church hired it's first full time minister, Ben Woodruff. A fund was started in 1964 to tear down the original parsonage and to build a new one. By1968 the new parsonage was built.
The church was growing. The 70s saw an active congregation. There was a thriving Sunday school with approximately 120 in attendance weekly from young to old. Christian Women's Fellowship, youth groups, bible studies and many other ministries were all in need of classroom space. The church planned a small addition 1971. A new basement was dug, and balcony was placed in the main sanctuary. The church also added several offices and class rooms. The church continued to flourish during this time. By 1977 the church came to the realization that they were going to need to build a brand new sanctuary and fellowship hall to accommodate the growing congregation.
Terry Tanner began his ministry at Selkirk Christian Chapel on December 7 1977. Under his leadership the church saw the greatest expansion of both congregation and physical building in it's first hundred years. in 1989 the expansion project concluded seeing a brand new sanctuary and fellowship hall being constructed.
While the church does seem to be measured in pews, bricks and dollars it is vital to understand that what was undergirding everything was a commitment to the Word of God. The congregation continually reaffirmed it's commitment to scripture. The village of Selkirk at that time had roughly 500 people living in the town proper. Even if attendance was low and only around 100, statistically the church was serving 1/5 of the entire town's population! That number began to increase! It was not long before once again the church was looking to expand. In 1985 the church began a fundraising initiative called Together We Grow. It was a remarkable time of unity and commitment to the sharing of the gospel in new ways.
In the early 2000's the church started to see a new need in the community. There was no where local that people could come to play sports, or gather for large events. The church asked a bold question: What if we could be that place? The church was already a destination for many children's ministry events. Tuesday nights had what is currently called BLAST, there were summer VBS's. The church had hosted camps and conferences... What if we had a facility that was specifically designed to make these events even better? So the church developed a vision. In 2008 the church began feasibility studies as to the construction of a 6000 square foot structure to the north of the church. By 2015 the multi-purpose building was completed!
Since the 1800s we have had many who have served as pastors of this wonderful congregation.
Amos Clendenan 1851
MB Ryan 1887
Charles Pardie 1909
TJ Reed 1911
JM Bumpus 1913
GS Grinstead 1914
G Johnston 1916
LM Larbee 1920
Benjamin Merry 1926
CW Clark 1928
TW Bradt 1928
Andrew Lawson 1933
Archie Allen 1934
Bruce Stainton 1935
W McDowel 1936
AJ Butler 1937
Thomas Grey 1938
HI Richardson 1939
Charles Thorp 1940
Lloyd Hustler 1941
HI Richardson 1944
Howard Wakelin 1946
Byron Howlett 1947
Charles Littell 1950
Wallace Howlett 1953
Ross Daley 1957
Ben Woodruff 1961
Neiser Brothers 1966
William Cook 1968
Maurice McCabe 1969
Ben Woodruff 1970
Terry Tanner 1977
Brian Unsworth 1990
Dan Royer 2005
Jamie Shurr 2008
Jim Midgett 2015