Mooretown - St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church

White church with square tower at entrance

The Presbyterian church in Mooretown grew out of the Congregational church established there by Rev. A. Geikie in the late 1840’s. Rev. Geikie moved to Toronto in 1849 due to family tragedy and left the church vacant for several years. A Presbyterian minister, Rev. John Gauld, was inducted into the charge of Bear Creek, Corunna and Mooretown in 1856. At this time, under the leadership of Rev. Gauld and with the approval of Rev. Geikie, the Mooretown Presbyterians began to worship in the old Congregational church building. The congregation grew and prospered under Rev. Gauld until, due to some disagreements, he submitted his resignation to the presbytery. Despite a petition which congregation members circulated to persuade Rev. Gauld to remain as their pastor, he left the area in 1860. 

Rev. Gauld's departure left the church vacant again for many years. When Bear Creek obtained a new minister, it joined to form a charge with the Hossie Settlement (Burns church) and thus Mooretown and Corunna were left unprovided for. During this time, Presbyterian families living in the area held prayer meetings in their homes and many walked to Bear Creek, Burns, or Corunna for Sunday worship. After a few years, some students were sent to care for these areas until in 1872 the pastorate of Rev. James McKutchin began. Rev. McKutchin was faced with the formidable task of gathering together the “scattered flocks” and forming them into permanent congregations with some order. His congregations loved him dearly and respected him as much. He carried out his tasks with a diligence and dedication that was appreciated by both the young and old in his congregation. 

Rev. McKutchin tramped through the woods to be on time for all his appointments and it is said that, despite all his travels, he was always immaculately turned out in his black broadcloth suit and a black silk top hat. He would make rounds of visits to all his parishioners and also members of other churches. On these occasions he would often hold prayer meetings in these homes and spend the night in that community. He would also travel extensively in order to visit and encourage the sick. 

Rev. McKutchin was an exceedingly talented and well-educated man who selflessly dedicated himself to a backwoods congregation when he could have easily graced the pulpit of any large city church. After 16 years of service in the Moore Township area, Rev. McKutchin took his first extended holiday and went for a visit to Scotland, on which occasion his congregations presented him with a purse of $100. After 6 months, he returned again to take up his work, but after his first return sermon on Dec. 1. 1889 (17 years from his first sermon there) he took ill and passed away in the beginning of the new year, to the great dismay of his parishioners. His memory is still cherished today. He was succeeded by Rev. Alexander Urquhart. 

Many important and interesting details of the early church history are unobtainable because the records were discarded one day while one of the ministers was housecleaning. Information can be gathered, however, from the managers’ records. The first business meeting of the congregation was held in September 1873 where Rev. McKutchin addressed the meeting about the importance of carrying out the business matters of the church as carefully as spiritual matters. In 1874 the charge petitioned the presbytery to allow Rev. McKutchin to continue his pastorate there. When this was granted, a Home Mission Fund was established and a collection taken to repay in some degree the help that Home Missions had given the congregation. In 1875, the trustees of the Congregational Church gave permission for horse sheds to be erected on the property. A soiree was held to defray the cost of the sheds and the event raised $25.07. 

For all these years the Presbyterians had been worshipping in the Congregational church in return for keeping it in repair, but in 1885 they finally purchased the church from the Geikie estate. Five years later, however, a new building was deemed necessary to fulfill the needs of the larger congregation. The Pastoral field covered a wide area and when the decision was made to build a new church in Mooretown those who lived further to the south withdrew and built a church at Courtright. This remained part of the Mooretown charge. A new lot was purchased in 1890 and the construction tender of James Whyte from Brigden was accepted. The specified amount set for the building was $1547 but the completed building ran to a cost of $2300. Sunday, Jan. 11, 1891 was the opening and dedication service for the new church. The services were conducted by Rev. Dr. Thompson of Sarnia. Professor Walter Geikie from Toronto also addressed the congregation and presented them with stained glass windows in memory of his grandfather, Rev. Geikie. Another beautiful stained glass window was dedicated to the memory of Rev. McKutchin. 

For many years the congregation followed the tradition of sitting for singing and standing for prayer. Singing was led by a precentor until the first organ was introduced in 1889.  Moore Museum houses their second organ which was purchased in 1899 from Mr. Little of Ridgetown. In 1914, the present church was redecorated and had a cement foundation added under it. Rev. J. Cruickshank was the pastor of the Mooretown-Corunna charge in the 1980s. As of 2020, the church still hosts services in Mooretown as one of two Presbyterian Churches in the area.