Oct. 26, 1955
Information submitted by Frances Laver
ATHERLEY– Atherley United Church marked its 60th anniversary with special services, pageants, historical displays and choral music under the Rev. W. H. H. Stewart who conducted the morning service.
Originally the Methodist church of frame construction on the Duntan property, the present church was built by members of the congregation with many playing their parts in hauling lumber, gravel, stone and other supplies. Mr. Frank Toole, a relative of George Moase was the architect, who also made the pulpit. Mr. Henry Whitney and his sons were the carpenters and Mr. William Prophet now in his 88th year, bought and drew the stone steps from the Longford quarry.
The first minister of the present church in 1895 was the Rev. J. S. McMullen and the first organist was Miss Emily Whitney, the superintendent of the Sunday School was Mr. Hill, and the Epworth League later known as the Young People’s Society, was formed for mid-week prayer.
In 1908 the original large steeple was blown off in a hurricane and replaced by a smaller one built by Mr. James Prophet and Mr. John Cole. Electricity was brought in in 1910 by the Young Men’s Bible Class taught by Miss Lettie Black who was an Anglican school teacher.
From 1918 to 1923 services were discontinued and the congregation joined with the Uptergrove church. With the forming of a circuit with Udney, Fairvalley and Atherley, services were resumed. Through the years many members of the congregation went forth into the world , their lives directed by the church, among them being the Rev. Ralph I. Whitney, Murray Binstead, Rev. Wendal Woodger, Miss Viola Whitney who married Prof. Ned Pratt and is in her own right the editor of World Friends. The W.M.S. and W. A. were formed around 1919 or 1920 these two organizations contributing greatly to church and community activities.
In recent years the church has seen the addition of an electronic organ, new windows, new interior, decorating new lights, front door, oil furnace, and carpet which have helped greatly to make the church a modern, bright place of worship. Work is presently going ahead to modernize the basement and kitchen.
Among those who took part in the special events held in conjunction with the diamond jubilee celebrations were Miss Jessie Elder, organist; Mr. Hager Whitney, violinist who accompanied the choir; Mr. Eldwin Brown, 90, who was the first groom to be married in the church in 1896; Rev. J. G. Robison, a former minister of the church who conducted the evening service, and many others.
The choir presented a Fashion Parade of Old-time and modern costumes which was followed by a short two-act musical play “The Old Village Choir.” A feature of the fashion parade was Mr. Stanley Elder wearing the wedding coat of Mr. Edward James, which was 83 years old: a 70 year old gown owned by Mr. James MacDonald’s grandmother, modelled by Winnifred Cookson and a 65 year old black and gold gown, owned by Mrs. McLean modelled by Mrs. Arnold Cooke, also a bonnet over 160 years old owned by Mrs. Rynard. Mr. Ed Elder was the commentator.
Messages from friends unable to attend were read by Mr. Stewart and also many words of thanks.
Mayer John R. McIsaac and old boy of Atherley, spoke of many pleasant associations with the Atherley friends and congratulated the pastor and the many committees which made possible the diamond jubilee celebrations.
Mr. C. I. Whitney, a former Sunday School superintendent and brother of the present superintendent, compiled and read a history of the church.
The play, “The Old Village Choir”, was the grand finale for the celebration with Ed Elder choir master. The members wore costumes of the era of 50 years ago and the applause which greeted the final curtain attested to the appreciation the audience felt for the acting of the participants. A vote of thanks was extended on behalf of the committee in charge for the success the celebration had been, members including Mrs. W. J. Jackson, Mrs. A. R. Lewis, and Mrs. H. H. Whitney.