Westminster-St.Paul's Presbyterian Church

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Our History


A brief history of.. Westminster-St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church.

 The Start: 1956 

…as an outreach of Knox Presbyterian, under the guidance of Rev. D. Crawford Smith,
to the fast growing north-east end of Guelph.  

Miss Marjorie McKay, a deaconess at Knox Church visited homes in the area. 
This led to the opening of a Sunday School at John F. Ross High School with 51 children.
Services were conducted by three Guelph ministers and some students from Waterloo College.

Rev R.G. Thomson served as Interim Moderator and an interim Session was started
with two elders from each of the Guelph churches.


September 1957

Church Services held at Ottawa Crescent Public School along with
Church School classes started September 22.



Rev J. Douglas Gordon is called to the fast-growing congregation.  

The manse at 9 Shirley Avenue is purchased.

133 Charter members added to the Roll.  
Knox and St. Andrew’s churches agree to support the new congregation.  

The Building Committee meets.  

Session is formed-John Gillespie is appointed Clerk.  

The Presbyterian Women’s Association is formed.  

The first congregational meeting is held at Ottawa Crescent School.



Land on Victoria Road is donated by Mr. Norman McMillan

 for the construction of a church building.

 The corner stone is laid September 13.

The unique building designed by architect Richard Pagani is completed..

The first Worship Service is held on October 25, 1959.

The congregation of St. Paul’s closes its doors and unites with Westminster.

The membership is more than 300 with 130 children in Sunday School.

Norm Brydges is named as the first organist and a choir is formed.



The first meeting of the newly appointed Board of Managers is held.

The St. Paul’s church building is sold.

The Service of Dedication is held.

A Boy Scout group and a Cub Pack start with Howard Mitchell as leader.



Rev. J. Douglas Gordon retires.

The  first Vacation Bible School is held with 100 children in attendance.

The first annual Turkey Supper is held.



Rev. Gordon Hastings becomes the second minister.

Westminster-St. Paul’s and Trinity United arrange to hold church services
at Trinity during July and at Westminster-St. Paul’s in August.

A Lectern is donated to the church by Mrs. D. Reid. 

Norm Bridges is hired as organist and choir director.



A strip of land to the north of the church is purchased for $450.00.

There are now 472 members.  Brownies start using church facilities for weekly meetings.



Plain glass windows in the Sanctuary are to be replaced with stained glass,

to be purchased as memorials.

Rev. Hastings retires.

Rev. William Nicholson becomes the third minister.



Rev. Nicholson resigns as a result of poor health.

Permission is given for drapery to be hung behind the Communion table.



Rev. Ron Courtney inducted as fourth minister.

Westminster-St. Paul’s starts combined summer services with Trinity United Church
(continued until 1976).

Cubs, Girl Guides, Brownies, Boy Scouts, Couples Club and Trailblazers (young people)
are active and several of the groups are led by church- members.



A Junior Choir starts with 20 members.



The choir is moved  from the choir loft to the chancel as an experiment.



Evening Communion Service initiated (continued until March 1982).

The congregation is now 524. 260 copies of The Book of Praise purchased.

Session members host a bedding- plant sale.



 Rev. Ron Courtney resigns.

Rev.  Ken Wilson “preaches for the call”.



Rev. Ken Wilson inducted as the fifth minister and moves to Guelph
with his wife, Donna, and sons John and David.


A speaker system is installed in the Sanctuary.


The first Vacation Bible School is led by Rev. Ken and Mrs. Donna Wilson.
The first year of coffee and fellowship after worship.


Landscaping is done to the front of the building. Bibles are presented to graduates of Church School.


The 21st Anniversary is celebrated with the burning of the mortgage.



Westminster-St. Paul’s takes responsibility for the Tran family from South Viet Nam.



Ceiling fans are installed in the Sanctuary. CGIT presents a Vesper Service in December.

The Tran family relocates in Toronto.


The 25th Anniversary. An Adult Bible Study group starts.



The 25th Anniversary an Adult Bible Study group starts.

A new Allen Organ is installed. The roof is replaced.



This is a year when the young people of the church take major responsibilities in the life of the congregation.

The Youth Group takes charge of the Easter Sunrise Service. CGIT  presents the Vesper Service.

Explorers present a World  Day of Prayer Children’s service and
the musical presentation of David and Goliath.

Avril Brown and Betty Larter start work on documenting the history of Westminster-St. Paul’s



Children of the Church and the Christian Education Committee come into being.



The electrical system is upgraded . The furnace is changed to a high-efficiency oil burner.

The introduction of a computer for the Church Secretary. The church purchases a printer.

CGIT presents the Vesper Service. Explorers take part in The World Day of Prayer Children’s service



There is a CGIT led Vesper Service. Explorers present a Christmas Play at the church and to the residents of Heritage House.


The three circles of the Presbyterian Women’s Association, -- Crescent, Victoria and Goodwill
report on their various activities in their Annual Report -- among them, support for the
Explorers and Children of the Church, Sunday School picnic and Christmas party,
presentation of Bibles for attendance at Sunday School, flowers in the sanctuary,
Christmas gifts for shut-ins, delivery of “Meals on Wheels”, and the Annual Bazaar.

The children and youth groups have a very active year. Eleven babies are baptized.

The Grand piano is dedicated.


“The Challenge”, an in-house quarterly newsletter, is published. It’s editor, Margaret Beale
and assistant, Wanda Thompson produce the first issue of “church” news,
cartoons, Crieff news, weddings, deaths, new members and letters.

Church membership numbers 351.

A Bible Study group starts.

A library is started in the Fellowship Hall.


A large growth in fellowship activities. “Special Days”, an outreach to seniors
providing a hot meal and fellowship starts.

Pot-luck sandwich luncheons for the congregation become a feature on the
first Sunday of each month.

Board of Managers organizes a Garage Sale.

Rev. Ken Wilson retires after 17 years of service.

A “Search Committee” is appointed to seek a new Minister.

The decision is made to sell the Manse.

The Church Library starts with adult and children’s books.

Organist/Choir Director Norman Brydges, retires after 33 years.

A new manse is purchased.

Rev. John Young as the Interim Moderator, organizes
Ministers to fill-in during the vacancy.

The teen/ youth event “Super Stars” is hosted by Westminster-St. Paul’s.

The first year of the team ministry of the Revs. Herb and Shirley Gale.

The congregation grows by ten new members. Eight children are baptized.
60 children take part in Vacation Bible School.

John Taylor is appointed the new organist and choir director.

“Vision 2000 Committee” is established to do long-range planning for the church.

New choir gowns purchased.  “Every household visitation” organized.

First “Talents and Treasures” Auction.

The start of “ConneXions”, a young adult group. Victoria Circle undertakes
the “turkey pie”  fund–raiser.

Video cassettes and Audio cassettes are added to the Library.

Visitation Committee established to visit sick and shut-in members.

Prayer Group established to respond to prayer requests and to pray for the on-going work of the church.

The Fellowship Committee is established “to encourage and promote fellowship within our church.”

The Personnel Committee is established to “act as a Human Resource function
for the church office staff”.

Special Days, an outreach ministry, starts.

New speakers and portable microphones installed in the Sanctuary.

New offices and storage areas completed. New Hymn Books.

Three active Bible Study groups.: Women’s, Men’s and Mixed. “Live the Vision Committee” raises over $5,000 for a project in Nicaragua to provide milk and bread for children.

Four issues of the congregation’s “ Challenge” newsletter are produced.


A computer and printer are installed in the office. New hymn books and Psalters are purchased.

A fine year for eating! A “Robbie Burns” dinner, an Irish Potluck, A Valentine dinner,
a Corn Roast and a Christmas Family potluck are enjoyed.


The choir and the organ are re-located to the chancel from the choir-loft.

Heather Darrington takes on the responsibility for music.

Westminster Belles joins the three Women’s groups.

The Session hires a moderator, Dean Peachy, to resolve a number of conflicts.

"The Clarion”, a newsletter for the congregation makes its first appearance.

The old Hymn books are sent to a church in Hamilton and to the Presbyterian Church in Grenada.

"ConneXions" makes plans to re-start in January.

Carolyn Milke assumes the job of Organist/Choir Director.

Architect David McAuley is hired to assist Session with the need for improving the church facilities.

The Bell Choir under the direction of Nick Kaethler is added to the music ministry.

The 40th Anniversary of the church is celebrated throughout the year. The Bible from St. Paul’s is dedicated. Joy Pollard organizes a Children’s Choir.

The first Pancake Supper is held and there is a Fish Fry dinner.

Darryl Johnstone represents the youth at the Triennium in Indiana.

"Moment for Mission" is added to the service with stories of Presbyterian Missions around the world.

The first "Cancer Survivors Day" is organized by Westminster-St.Paul’s and staff at the Cancer Society offices. The celebration starts with the Worship Service in the sanctuary followed by a large
“Music in the Park” event at Riverside Park, featuring many local musical groups including folk from  "WSP".

Children are welcomed to the Lord’s Table.

The Endowment Fund is initiated.

Hanging Files are introduced to facilitate communication throughout
the congregation through notices, etc..

The Prayer Chain has its start.


The second Cancer Survivors Day is celebrated. The Welcoming Committee is established.

Talents and Treasures Auction and the Garage Sale are held in May.

A joint summer children’s program is held with St. Andrew’s.

A telephone – visiting ministry to supplement Elders’ visits starts.

The team ministry of Herb and Shirley Gale is amended to a full call to Herb
in light of Shirley’s ill-health.

An Alpha course series is held with 24 participants.

Westminster-St. Paul’s sponsors the second celebration for Cancer Survivors Day.

The congregation becomes actively involved in the support of a school in Livingstonia, Malawi.
A church member, Dara Thompson, goes to Malawi on a mission tour supported by the church.
Bob Stinson teaches at the school for two terms.

An attendant is hired to staff the nursery during church services.

Fund raising events include Talents and Treasures Auction,
Garage Sale, Fish Fry and Turkey Supper.

The Prayer Partnership bookmark is introduced. “Moments for Mission” – stories of missions around the world were part of the worship.

A “Telephone-Visiting” ministry is established with several specific responsibilities for trained volunteers.

Shirley Gale retires and the congregation holds a “Farewell” celebration. Penny Garrison, Intern Student, starts her year at WSP. Herb Gale suffers a heart attack followed by by-pass surgery.
Rev. Tom Kay serves as Interim Moderator during Herb’s convalescence.

Session accepts “term eldership”.

Ann Clark takes charge of the children’s choir.

Negotiations proceed with the architect on the possible options for an addition to the church building.

The third Cancer Survivors Day is organized by Westminster- St. Paul’s. Dara Thompson receives the support of the Session in her application to be a candidate for the ministry.

Term Service for Elders is approved by the congregation.

The first Tenebrae Service is held on Good Friday.


A number of new Elders are elected to Session.

Shelly Butterfield-Kocis comes to WSP as an Intern Student.
She is focused on families and children in the church and she starts a women’s Bible study group.

The Guelph Male Choir starts weekly practising in the sanctuary. Paul Mack and
Associates (Architects) are hired to do a study in preparation for a fund-raising campaign.

Session prepares information re emergency arrangements and information re funerals and memorials.

New lighting fixtures are installed in the Sanctuary.

The mission project raises money to support a soybean plantation in Nicaragua.

The Kiwanis Music Festival uses the church facilities for several competitions.

The first year of a Pancake Supper.

Negotiations continue with the architect concerning an addition to the church.

A gift from Knox church of a hearing-impaired system is gratefully received.


A Sunrise Breakfast is held before the Easter Sunrise service.

The Children’s Library is installed in a handsome cupboard built by Bob Renton.

The children’s choir is directed by Ann Clark.

A toy teddy bear named “Stu Bear” is introduced at the children’s time to teach about stewardship.
A Seder meal is held at which the children are included.
Children take part in welcoming at the door.

There is a growth in attendance at Sunday School. A “Kids activity table” is set up in the Sanctuary to provide “quiet” activities for the children prior to Sunday School. The Nursery is
decorated and Sue Linton, with other volunteers, takes responsibility for providing Nursery care.

Avace Barrie photographs all the children in the
Sunday School so the congregation can get to know them.

Vacation Bible School takes place in August.

The third Cancer Survivors' Day is celebrated.



Sod is turned for an addition to the building Sunday, May 4.

Architect is J. David McAuley

Features in the addition include a large narthex, a new minister’s office, a church office,
a library/lounge, a wheel-chair accessible exterior ramp, a small elevator and a large nursery,
a youth room and wheel-chair accessible wash-rooms on both levels.

The well-lit paved parking- lot and handsome landscaping, complete the new look.

Jennifer Donnelly comes to WSP as the third Intern Student. Jennifer’s interests led to the addition
of several new resources in the Children’s library, and close work with children and families.

Herb Gale resigns to take a job with Church Offices.
Jennifer is hired to stay at WSP until a new minister is called.


Laura Hargrove is hired to fill in during the pastoral vacancy left with the resignation of Herb Gale.

Rev. Karla Wubbenhorst is called to WSP.

The manse is sold.


Some changes to assorted procedures are made, the primary one being the change from accepting children to partake in Communion to a decision to stop the inclusion of children.

Session initiates new groups: Christian Education and Nurture, FISH (fellowship, inspiration, spirituality and hospitality), Outreach and Worship. McGillivary Circle is dissolved.

Carolyn Milke, Organist for over 8 years, resigns.


The Alpha course is held.

The first edition of a news letter “The Burning Bush” is published.

Brian Garner is hired as Organist/Choir Director.


The 50th Anniversary of Westminster-St. Paul’s is celebrated with events planned for the whole year. A commemorative banner is constructed and hung in the Sanctuary with the motto for the year
“Our 50th…The year of Jubilee” – (Leviticus 25).