Brigden - Brigden Presbyterian Church

Picture of large ornate church with large steeple

Methodists began holding services in the hall over Wynn's Drug Store in the early 1870's. Many Presbyterians attended and assisted with the services. Frequent services were also held in the schoolhouse, conducted by Rev. Peter McDermid of Bear Creek. 

After the Methodist Church was built in Brigden, during 1877 the Presbyterians requested to hold afternoon services in the church. Non-Methodists helped finance the church building so the Presbyterians could not be refused. Those worship services continued for three years. 

Rev. John A. McDonald arrived in April 1879 and the Presbyterian Congregation proceeded to consider three possible sites in 1880. Peter Brown offered land and a contribution of one hundred dollars towards a church on the north side of the 4th line west of Main Street. Charles Duncan offered a site on the east side of Main Street near the present school property. (The Church would have been placed at the northern approach to the village with a commanding view).  These sites were rejected in favour of the property donated by William Lucas and Harry Leacock on Jane Street where the church was built. The brick work contract was awarded to John Livingston and William Morwich from Watford. Workman were scarce making it difficult to complete the contract on time. Duncan McPhail of Alvinston was the carpenter.

Later in the summer of 1880, Rev. Dr. George A. McKay of Formosa laid the cornerstone. It contained names of the present session, newspapers, coins and wheat. When the sealed box in the cornerstone was opened during renovations in March 1967, the date on the enclosed Sarnia Observer was August 27, 1880. However, opening services were held on March 13, 1881. 

During the following months, the building was started. Contractors had trouble securing as many workmen as needed because it was grain threshing time! The following summer a violent hailstorm arose. It destroyed the new church's stained glass windows. Construction proceeded smoothly until the building was rendered weatherproof.

In March 1881, the new church was opened for service. Bear Creek and Brigden were united as one charge with Rev. J.A. McDonald as their pastor. His successor, Rev. J.C. McKee, was inducted on July 21, 1891 and departed on August 4, 1904. The church received four other ministers. 

In 1905 Brigden and Bear Creek purchased a brick house on the southwest corner of Main Street and Sydenham Avenue to be used as a manse for Mr. Reid. They bought in its place the frame residence of John Hayne in 1918. Rev. John D. Bannatyne arrived in 1923 to occupy the new manse. None of the four original elders remained to welcome Mr. Bannatyne. This was the Presbyterian manse until June 1925. An acetylene gas system for lighting was installed in 1908.

In June, 1925, a vote was taken on Church Union, and it was decided by a small majority to enter the United Church of Canada. This vote carried with it the church and manse. 

The minority group became the continuing Presbyterian Church in Canada. Rev. J.J. Mounds of Petrolia organized the Brigden group as a congregation. There were forty-three members on the roll and thirty-one adherents signing their intention to continue in the church. Services were held in Carroll's Hall on the corner of Front and Jane Streets and later in the Baptist Church on the 4th line. 

In 1927, the former Methodist Church on Boswell Street was bought by the Brigden Congregation.  At this time the congregation had three elders and felt able to take definite steps.  April 1927, the Presbyterians bought the former Methodist Church from the United Church's Sarnia Presbytery for $2,500. Their predecessors had begun worship there sixty years earlier. 

In May 1927, the congregation purchased a white frame house on Sydenham Avenue to serve as a manse from Robert Armstrong for $1,750. As in 1905 and 1918, Bear Creek furnished half the money. 

Rev. G.S. Scott was inducted on June 21, 1927. He assisted in the dedication of the church on July 10. That same year a new piano was purchased for Sunday School and concert work. 

Other ministers after union were: Rev. Dr. H.R. Campbell, Rev. W.B. Mitchell, Rev. W.W. McRae, Rev. D.W. Oswald, Rev. H.D. Cameron, Rev. W.K. Gartshore, Mr Otis F. McGregor, Rev. T.0. Hughes, Rev. A.C. Aicken, Mr. Geo. Wilkinson and Mr. Frank Verheul.

Early in 1973 the century old bond between Brigden and Bear Creek was broken. Point Edward joined Brigden and Knox (Dawn). On March 1, 1973 Rev. Ernest Herron who was at Point Edward began preaching at Brigden. During October of 1974 Rev. Herron accepted a call to Vancouver Island. At this time St. Andrews Church in Petrolia was in need of a minister. Presbytery hoped to improve the chances of getting a minister by creating a two point charge with Knox (Dawn). Point Edward and Brigden were left alone and placed under the direction of the Mission Board. 

On July 1, 1976 Rev. Glenn Cooper (just graduating from Knox College) accepted the two point charge. Late in 1980 the Board permitted the congregation to extend him a formal call. He was inducted on November 30. 

            Brigden separated from this two point charge with Point Edward and became a single charge with its own minister in 2000. Rev. Tom Roger acted as Interim Moderator and Rev. Jo-Anne Symington was hired on a contract basis in the hopes that new and returning members could be drawn to the congregation. The decision to close was made by the Brigden congregation shortly after, and Rev. Symington accepted a call to the Alvinston charge.  A closing service was conducted by Rev. Glenn Cooper as guest minister, assisted by Rev. Eenkhoorn and Rev. Symington on Nov. 3rd, 2002.