Rural Moore Township - Providence Methodist Church

Small white church and tree

Providence was a small settlement, started in 1847, which had 14 Methodist families. In 1848 they built a log schoolhouse in which to hold day school, Sunday School, and regular services on Sunday. This schoolhouse was on the southwest corner of Providence Sideroad and later a log schoolhouse was on the northeast corner of the same Sideroad. 

Land for a church was donated by Mr. Andrew Allingham. The church could have the property as long as a church remained. Once the church was closed or moved to other property, the land was to be returned to the Allingham farm. 

The church was built by the father of Father Gnam, a well-known Catholic priest in Corunna. James Thornton, a cabinet maker, made two lampposts, a table, chairs, and a railing around the platform where the people knelt to take communion. The pulpit, approximately 5 or 6 feet wide, and everything else was made of walnut which he grew on his farm. 

Some of the early church families were the Thortons, Wrays, Neals and Allinghams. 

Half a mile to the south, on top of a gravel ridge on the Thorton farm, was the Providence cemetery. When the cemetery was new, a group of Indigenous peoples came through the bush carrying a woman who had died. She was buried just north of the main gate. The cemetery plans were lost so it is not known who owns the lots. 

About 1882, when the church opened, the people of the neighbourhood held a picnic in the woods across from the church. The congregation also built a shed beside the church which could hold twelve or more horses. 

The Sunday School was run by James Abra, Barney Ford, and Bert Leckie. Sunday School was before church, mostly in the morning, but sometimes in the afternoon. This church was connected mostly with Marthaville church. The manse was located there. 

Sunday night meetings, called Epworth League, were attended by most members of the congregation. They would sing from the Canadian hymnal and people would walk from the 8th line or bicycle from east of Brigden Sideroad to a mile west of Providence Sideroad. 

Providence was on the Sarnia circuit in the beginning. Later it was with Corunna, then Brigden and lastly with Marthaville. When Providence was on a circuit with Brigden there were five or six appointments and only two preachers. For a while Rev. Jerome assisted Rev. Morrison. 

The church might have been in a good place during the oil boom, but in later years the church became weak. After the oil boom there were problems in paying the minister. Church members collected oats for the minister's horse. 

Wallie Darough was caretaker for the church. He was a hot-headed type and once shot over the heads of some boys with a revolver to end their disturbance. He took care of the church for many years. 

Sunday services, Christmas concerts, harvest festivals and community gatherings continued until Union closed the doors in 1925. After church union the building was sold to the Latter Day Saints and moved to Petrolia in 1931. Most of Providence's members went to Mooreline Church after Union.