Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Brief History of the Bathurst Street Chapel

Doris Hillyard, who serves (among other jobs) as the institutional memory of our congregation, sent me the following information about the history of our chapel, including a document by Charles McClean and several other documents without listed authors.

Our chapel on Bathurst Street is the third church building built by the Toronto congregation of Community of Christ (formerly the RLDS Church).

The congregation (or "branch" as it was originally known) was organized in 1891.   At the time, there were ten members and meetings were held in private homes and public halls.  By 1900 the membership had increased to 100 and the first small church was built on Camden Street.  Just six years later in 1906, the membership had increased to somewhat less than 300 and a second church building was constructed on Soho Street.

By the 1920s the branch had grown and a new, larger church was planned for Bathurst Street that would include a lower auditorium and an upper sanctuary.  The lower part of the building was completed by 1931 at a cost of $100,000.  The worldwide financial collapse of the Great Depression prevented any work on the upper sanctuary, but despite economic conditions, the congregation was able to pay off the mortgage over the next twelve years.

In 1962, after thirty-two years of meeting in the lower auditorium, the congregation made plans to complete the building.  Services were held for the first time in the new upstairs sanctuary on the first Sunday of March, 1963.  I talked to Gordon Hodgins who remembers attending that service. He says that President W. Wallace Smith attended and spoke at the dedication. The cost of finishing the building ($122,000) was fully paid within a year of the decision to begin the work, leaving the church clear of any debt.

In recent years, developers have approached the property owners on our block with plans to build mixed-use high rise towers.  The congregation entered into an arrangement to sell the building for a very good price, pending the developer's ability to get financing and sell a sufficient number of condominiums in the proposed high rise.  If the sale goes through, the congregation intends to build a fourth chapel within a larger mixed use high rise.  The advantage will be to have a newer building that is more accessible and more appropriate to our size and present needs.

However, with the high rise market in flux, it remains to be seen whether the move will occur.  In the meantime, we're still in our current building, which has served us so well for the past eighty years.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday September 2 Service

Here's a preview of next Sunday's service. The theme is "Give Us Clean Hearts." The scripture for our theme found in Mark 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23 (which is Mark 7:1–8, 14–15, 20–21 in the Inspired Version of the Bible). Click here for additional readings and information on our theme.

 Since this is the first Sunday of the month, the service will include the Sacrament of Communion. (Community of Christ is open communion and all are welcome.) Joe Hodgins will be conducting the service and I'll be giving the homily on our theme. Melanie Leitch will be telling a story for children attending, Don Bailey will be speaking on the Disciples' Generous Response, and Virginia Hodgins will be playing piano.

 After the service, please stay with us for snacks and visiting.

Welcome to Toronto Congregation

You are invited!

We're a small, but welcoming congregation of Community of Christ in the city of Toronto, Ontario.  We value building community and we would love to invite you to share the in community we've built.  We meet every Sunday at 10am for scripture study, and 11 am for our worship service, which is followed by visiting, coffee, and snacks.
Our chapel is located at 1443 Bathurst Street, conveniently near St. Clair West Station. Free parking is available for those driving.

The Bathurst Street Chapel on September 2, 2012.