As part of the 150th Anniversary Celebration the planning committee have added the past 50 years of the life of the church. Included in this condensed history you will find highlights of events that have taken place within the church for the Ladies Aid, the Women’s Missionary Society, the Sunday School, and the Choir. Although there is no specific section dedicated to the Board of Managers it is relevant to say the physical dignity, general appearance, and financial management of Argyle Church is the result of these very dedicated and hard working men and women.
In 1961 the Argyle Presbyterian Church celebrated 100 years of ministry in the Crinan and Argyle communities holding back to back anniversary services on June 25 and July 2. Rev. J.M. McCurlie was the minister during this time, however, at the July 2nd service’s Rev. D. Campbell of Sarnia was the guest speaker in the morning and Rev. Finlay Stewart of Kitchener preached for the evening service. Commemorative plates were available through the Ladies Aid selling at $1.50 per plate. Each lady in the congregation was asked to sell at least 4 plates.
To help cover day to day and occasionally extraordinary expenses, fundraising has always been essential in running a small church with limited membership. Crinan’ largest fundraiser each year was the fall supper held annually on Remembrance Day (November 11). The menu was changed from turkey to beef in 1961. Served along with roast beef were sides of mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, baked beans, coleslaw, jello, rolls, beet relish, chilli sauce, pickles and finally for dessert plum pudding.
Several days before the supper the ladies of the church would gather early one morning to make a large number of puddings. Each person had a job and the production line would begin. Some peeled potatoes, carrots and apples, some chopped, some mixed batches, some greased the pudding dishes, some put the puddings to steam and others did dishes and whatever else was deemed necessary. To say this annual supper was successful would be an understatement because people would come from miles away to partake of the succulent beef dinner and very tasty pudding. It was common for over 400 plates served and a goodly amount of money raised. This event was also a time of wonderful fellowship for the congregation as well as for the entire community. Many folks, who were not routine churchgoers, would pitch in to help. The young people were there to help set up, and men of the congregation carved meat, carried water, dried dishes and kept the electrical supply up and running. The last roast beef supper was served on November 11. 2003 and in its place the congregation decided to have an “imaginary supper” to raise funds.
In 1963 the decision was made that a new organ was going to be a necessity. A purchase committee of Douglas McMurchy, Annie Isobel McCallum, Douglas B. McCallum (Bud), Muriel Carroll, Marion Carmichael, Minnie Livingstone and Mary Gilchrist were given instructions they had a maximum budget of $1700.00 to spend on a new organ. An organ fund was established and $1692.17 was raised. The total cost of the organ was $1619.29, well within the budget established at the beginning of the project. The balance ($72.88) was given to the Ladies Aid Repair Fund. At a congregational meeting in April, 1963 they had 3 organs there for the congregation to listen to and after a vote the decision was to purchase the Baldwin. This same organ is still used every Sunday even now in 2011.
Rev. Stanley Andrews was inducted in 1966 following Rev. J. Elders move to Tiverton. Rev. Andrews would be the minister for the Crinan/Largie charge for the next fourteen years, leaving in 1980.
During the next several years several physical improvements were made to the church structure. A washroom and septic system was installed in at the cost of $1132.00 with several of the members capably doing some of the work and a new front door was hung. Furnace oil was contracted at 33.6 cents a gallon. As well in 1979 two new flags were presented by the Young Peoples Society to hang in the church sanctuary.
John Carmichael stepped down as Clerk of Session in 1975 and Douglas McMurchy became clerk until 1982. Kathleen McLarty was elected as church treasurer in 1976 following the resignation of Mae Johnston.
Rev. Andrews’ resignation was followed by a young newly ordained minister by the name of Rev. Donald McCallum in 1981 that stayed until 1985. Also, that year Duncan Tait, Duncan McPherson and Lorne Carroll were ordained as elders. Later in 1982, Douglas McMurchy resigned as Clerk of Session and the position was filled by Duncan Tait.
With the 1983 – 84 winter approaching it was decided the furnace was going to need to be replaced so the members organizes a successful auction to raise the funds. The cost of the furnace including the labour was $1700.00.
With the pulpit vacant, Rev. Angus McKinnon accepted a call by the charge. He conducted the 125th Anniversary service celebrated in June 1986. Mugs and plates with a brief history of the church printed on them were sold in recognition of the occasion.
In 1988 Frank McMurchy, Bill McMurchy and John Aldred were ordained as elders of Argyle church. The following year Rev. McKinnon resigned to move back to Cape Breton. Ralph Fluit took the position of stated supply from January to July 1990 and on his ordination to the Presbyterian Church of Canada accepted a call from the Crinan/Largie charge.
July 5, 1992 was a day of celebration as Annie Isobel Tait (McCallum) was recognized for 40 years of service as the organist and choir director of Argyle church. Former choir members returned as well as a former minister, Rev. Don McCallum. A presentation in her honour was made.
Forever looking at creative fund raising ideas the Ladies Aid planned an “Irish Stew” dinner in 1997. This was a successful fund raiser for several years and enjoyed by all who attended.
When, in August 1998, Knox Presbyterian Church, West Lorne closed its doors for the last time, several members transferred their membership to the Argyle Presbyterian Church. This union helped strengthen the church in its work to God’s glory as well as providing the West Lorne members a welcoming and familiar place to worship. September 1998 also was the month that Rev. Fluit was leaving for his new charge in Toronto. Fortunately, the pulpit was not vacant for a long period as Rev. Brian Nichol accepted a call in 1999 and stayed until 2003.
The turn of the Century brought some more changes. Al Carroll and Duncan McGregor were ordained as elders and Sharon Gilchrist joined the elders as a transfer from Knox Church, West Lorne session. Also the session made the recommendation children would be invited to participate in communion.
In 2001 Kathleen McLarty retired after 35 years as church treasure. A recognition and presentation were celebrated in her honour. As well Lorne Carroll and John Aldred retired as members of session. Duncan Tait retired as Clerk of Session a position he had held for the previous 20 years.
2001 and 2002 saw more changes. The Treasurers Duncan McGregor and Tom McLarty acquired a computer program so that all giving’s would be entered in a special church program that would expedite statements and receipts. New church envelopes were also introduced.
A new green steel roof was installed enhancing the outer appearance of the church but more importantly would provide protection from leaks for years to come. New carpet was installed in the sanctuary and funded by the Ladies Aid and the pews were covered with matching padded cushion funded by the Memorial Fund. As well new basement windows were installed.
Duncan McPherson and Duncan Tait both retired from session, and Tom McLarty was ordained in 2003
This was also the last year that the congregation served the November 11th Beef and Plum Pudding supper. Public Health regulations and volunteers made the event to challenging to organize. The Ladies Aid provided the funds for a new furnace ready for winter.
Rev. Hugh Appèl filled in as a supply minister in 2004 for a few months and then accepted a part time position for 2 years. This was extended for another 2 years in to 2008.
November 11th was recognized each year at the Sunday preceding the date. In 2004 the West Elgin Legion from West Lorne attended and took part in the service. Two living veterans from the Argyle congregation George Bell and Duncan Tait both took part as they do each year.
With the water well not achieving adequate test results in 2004 the decision was made to have the connection made to the water line. As well, the church inner sanctuary was painted enriching the overall appearance. Gerry and Dorothy Walker, former members, refinished the antique wood chairs that are now used by the elders during communion and the pulpit chairs were reupholstered to match the carpeting which also enhanced the sanctuary. As well, in 2007a new sound system, funded by the Memorial Fund, was installed. The system had the capability to tape the service and be delivered to those members who prefer to listen at home.
The 145th Anniversary was celebrated on June 11, 2006 with Rev. Don McCallum a former minister as the guest speaker. Leah Skiffington the daughter of Gary and Janice Skiffington (Carroll), was the guest soloist and the rhythm band “A Joyful Noise” from Duff church performed as well. The congregation held a celebration of the 145th on June 9th at a catered roast beef dinner.
In October, 2008, a choir appreciation service was held to honour past and present members of the choir. Duncan McPherson was able to join us from Bobier Villa, Anne Nethercott from Millstone Manor, and Duncan Tait was in attendance. Minnie Livingstone was unable to attend due to poor health. A bountiful lunch was enjoyed by all followed by the choir singing several selections and gifts presented to the members by the organist.
In January 2011 at the recommendation of the Search Committee, Rev. Ryan Kim preached for a call to the Duff – Argyle congregations. A unanimous yea vote of the members and adherents resulted in Rev. Kim accepting the call. His induction was held at Argyle Church on April 3rd, 2011.
Although some reference has been made in the preceding history of the Ladies Aid it is important to expand on the leadership these women have had in how the church functions. Meeting once a month and with God as their guide they contributed so much to life and means of Argyle church.
Most of the funds they raised were given to the board of managers to finance needed projects being done in the church and donations for those in need including a sponsored child through the Christian Children Fund.
In the past 50 years it was the ladies that initiated most of the fund raisers including the annual beef supper. Although most would describe the preparation for that supper “a lot of work”, they would also say “it was a lot of fun and certainly worthwhile”.
For many years they planned the annual chicken dinner that was held the Monday night following anniversary. All the ladies brought chicken cooked in their favourite recipe. As well there was the Christmas congregational dinner, Easter morning breakfasts (headed by the Session with the ladies working behind the scenes) Potluck dinners, St. Patrick Day Stew supper, Pork Barbecue at the Aldreds, Garage and Bake sale’s at Duncan and Grace McPherson’s, Rummage and Bake Sales and Plum Pudding sales only to name a few.
These ambitious women catered Presbytery when it was held at Crinan, banquets, anniversaries, weddings, birthday celebrations, food booths at auction sales, and funerals. Some of these occasions were catered in the church basement and some at facilities elsewhere. The Crinan church ladies have also been noted for miles around on what good cooks they are. They published a cook book in 1936 with reprints still available today.
As well cleaning the church was the responsibility of the Ladies Aid. For many years, church members donated money to cover the cost of the custodial person but the major “housecleaning” of the kitchen and elsewhere in the church was done by the ladies themselves. No corner was missed during this cleaning bee.
Two “signature quilts” were made during the life of the church with the most recent one quilted at the time of the 50th Anniversary of the re-construction of the church. Aleta McCallum was the recipient of that quilt and following her death her family donated the quilt back to the church to be hung on display.
WOMEN’S MISSIONARY SOCIETY
The Argyle church Women’s Missionary Society organized many years ago at Crinan has lived and served by the organizations purpose: “The Women’s Missionary Society is a community of Christian women who’s purpose in response to the love of God in Jesus Christ is to encourage one another and all the people of the church to be involved in local and world mission, through prayer, study, service and fellowship.”
Through the years these dedicated women have included studies of God’s word and stories of missions at their meetings; made donations to local missions and overseas missions through the W.M.S. Presbyterial; collected stamps for Leprosy Mission; gave donations to the Daffodil Society; hosted Thank Offerings; conducted worship service’s at Bobier Villa; attended retreats at Pearce Williams and Backus Page House; hosted the World Day of Prayer in 2004; hosted the Tea Room at Beattie Haven annually to name a few.
In 1986 they held a 100th W.M.S. Anniversary celebration in the sanctuary with Mrs. Norma McMillan as the guest speaker.
The W.M.S. continues in 2011 although not as active as in the past. However, they continue to support these causes in the same manner as the past.
Since the 100th Anniversary in 1961, Argyle Presbyterian Church, Crinan, Sunday School classes have continued. Classes are held beginning midway through the church service, with generally one class held per quarter section in the church basement.
Later years have brought decreased enrollment but it is hoped that in time this will turn around and growth will begin. Regardless of numbers, classes have been held for both small and large groups, all being of equal importance.
Superintendents serving in the last 50 years include Harold Carroll, Lorne Carroll, Gerald Walker, Alan Carroll, Duncan Tait, Norma McGill, Duncan McPherson and Laura Kieraszewicz. Many people have given of their time to teach the children.
In addition to weekly instruction on stories of the Bible, more social events contributed to the life of the Sunday School. The Sunday School picnic was held every July at the Aldborough Old Boys Park (now Pioneer Park) a t New Glasgow. This was always a highlight of the year when families would pack baskets and cooler to overflowing to share in a bountiful supper. For most Crinan families it was “haying time” but this gave way to a very special social event of the church. After supper, organized games were enjoyed by young and old alike, even baseball games.
The Sunday School picnic for the latter number of years has been held on the church grounds. On more than one occasion the shelter of the church basement has come in very handy from a July thunderstorm and our senior members seem to find this arrangement easier to attend. There is always a nice breeze to enjoy in the church yard as a good “visiting” time is enjoyed by all. The young and not so young enjoy a few games on the lawn after partaking of the traditional bountiful supper.
Another constant in the life of the Sunday School is the annual Christmas potluck supper and program. Again, fewer numbers of children mean more inventiveness is required for skits and pageants but the end result is the same: the real Christmas story and the birth of Jesus Christ is presented to the congregation, by the children.
In the past years this celebration has been varied to accommodate busy family schedules. Sometimes it has been an evening supper, but most often a noon potluck enjoyed after the regular Sunday worship service. Always the food table is heaped, and often family members from afar return home for the social time.
For several years the Sunday School and Ladies Aid have co-sponsored a child through the Christian Children’s Fund. The children are always interested to learn about the sponsored child and the country they live in.
For many years, in celebration of Mother’s Day, our church organist Annie Isobel Tait has let the Sunday School children in musical numbers during this special May service.
IN many cases the Sunday School children have been ready and willing to contribute to God’s service through their talents.
The Argyle congregation have been blessed over the past 50 years with a very dedicated group of people in the choir under the direction and leadership of Annie Isobel Tait (McCallum). Over the years they provided many concerts for their own congregation as well as “taking the show on the road” to other locations, Travelogue; The Season’s; An Evening of Smiles; to name some of the musical performances. The choir was quite self sufficient in raising funds to purchase new gowns, music, collars, organ cover etc. In 1991 the choir determined they should have new gowns to replace the black ones purchased back in 1961. It took them two years to raise the funds by having a Chili supper catering a supper and accepting donations. Finally, they accomplished their objective and on Thanksgiving Sunday 1993, the choir entered the sanctuary wearing their new green choir gowns.
As well a piano had been donated to the church from George and Anne Nethercott during that time.
On July 6, 2002 in recognition of Annie Isobel Tait’s 50th year as church organist a choir reunion and catered dinner was held. Several former members were in attendance and a program provided good entertainment for all that attended. A presentation was made in Annie Isobel’s honour.
Much has happened at Argyle church, Crinan, over the past 50 years. We have worshipped, we have worked, we have talked and practiced and learned. We have greeted newcomers and said our goodbyes. We have sacrificed and celebrated, made music, sang and prayed and laughed and wept. Ate and played together. Learned names to new faces, gave and received gifts. Cooked and served and washed dishes. Nurtured and repaired, had discussions, and made decisions all the while being faithful in all our doings.
Through the years many people have come and gone, but always there have been the faithful, both men and women, working to maintain the church and its influence in the community. It is to these faithful people that we dedicate this history.