Rural Moore Township - Mooreline Church, Presbyterian and United

Black and white photo of white church with trees

From 1855 to 1857, a movement was on to form a mission field with the Presbyterians at Mandaumin.  Rev. David Walker of the Free Church of Scotland, inducted at St. Andrew's in Sarnia in 1855, encouraged the movement.

In 1857, Mooreline became a mission station and services were held in Duncan's barn (the farm on which the church would later be situated) during the summer. Winter services were held in Jackson’s schoolhouse, on the southwest corner opposite the church. 

By August 1858, the Moore Line residents, along with Mandaumin and Enniskillen Townships, were petitioning the Presbytery of London for a pastoral charge. These residents were confident that they could support a pastor. The petition was granted in October of that year. On October 5, the congregation was formally organized and the communion role drawn up. Immediately another petition, signed by 146 persons, was taken to obtain a minister. 

A unanimous call was given to the Rev. James W. Chestnut. On April 20, 1859 Rev. Chestnut was inducted to the charge of Mandaumin, Mooreline, Ingram's schoolhouse (one and one-half miles south of what is Petrolia today) and Black Creek (today Oil Springs). His stipend was $400.00 a year. 

Almost immediately, the Mandaumin congregation built a church. Encouraged by Mandaumin's achievements, the Moore Line congregation decided to build a church also. In 1859, the contract was awarded to finish the building. Timber for the construction was obtained from the local woods. The frame building was dedicated in the summer of 1860. 

In 1860, because of the discovery of oil at Black Creek and Petrolia, the area soon grew large enough to have churches of their own. As of 1862, Mandaumin and Mooreline were left to themselves. Rev. Chestnut resigned in 1874. Rev. G.G. McRobbie remained and during his pastorate a new manse was built at Mandaumin. Rev. McRobbie left in 1877. 

Mooreline and Mandaumin separated in 1878. Mooreline united with the Hossie settlement (which would become Burns church). This new charge called Rev. McCalmon and he remained until 1884. Rev. McCalmon was inducted on Oct. 2. 1879. Rev. J. Campbell Tibb was inducted to the two-point charge on Oct. 17, 1884.

The Young People’s Society was started when a group of younger people came from Sarnia and began a Christian Endeavour Society at Moore line in 1891.  They were extremely active in the community, meeting twice a month on Sundays.

On April 29, 1887 the Young People requested an organ. The request was granted if the Young People had at least two thirds of the purchase money. The organ was confined to use in the Sunday School, prayer meetings and Sabbath evening service. It was not until 1889 that the session consented to the use of the organ in public worship if the majority of the congregation was agreeable. On the day the organ was first used for worship, the older members of the church marched boldly out of the church. Later, they returned. 

The year 1895 was an important one for the Mooreline congregation. The brick church at Mooreline was erected, at a cost of $4,200. In 1901, it was decided to dispense with Sunday evening services but the weekly prayer meeting was to continue. The newer brick building was raised in 1913 and a basement was constructed beneath it. The church had to be raised with the steeple attached. The job was successfully completed in January and February of 1914, by Archie Crawford, a contractor from Port Huron. Mr. Crawford was a native of this community. Most members were skeptical about whether or not the job could be done. Mr. Crawford would not allow the members who came help him. One helper was all he needed. When building jacks were in place, each one was turned up half a turn, then the next was turned. Mr. Crawford went from one jack to another until the desired height was reached. Members dug the basement with spades and shovels and the cement work was done by hand. Mr. Alex Shaw built 2 stairs, made a new platform, removed the partition, and made the furnace room and another small room in the basement. 

In June 1925, the congregation of Mooreline became a part of the United Church of Canada. 

Providence church joined Mooreline on July 31, 1927. On July 3, 1931, Lucasville church also joined Mooreline. 

The Mooreline congregation celebrated its 75th anniversary of its founding on Oct. 9, 1932. Dr. Neil M. Leckie led the worship. 

In the spring of 1956, the interior of the church was re-plastered, painted, and carpeted. May 20, 1956 the church reopened with Rev. W.R. Tristram speaking in the morning and Rev. H.M. Wright in the evening. During 1957, the Mooreline church celebrated its 100th anniversary on Oct. 13th and 20th. In that anniversary year, a new group of Explorers was established on May 27.

            Burns-Mooreline Pastoral Charge included Burns United Church and Mooreline United Church.  The two churches amalgamated in 1986 to form Burns-Mooreline United Church.  Services continued at the Mooreline location until the church closed in November 2012.  After the closing, some of the members joined St Paul’s United Church in Petrolia, which continues hold services as of 2020.