Rural Moore Township - Zion Methodist and United Church

Exterior of small white church

In 1870 the area to be known as Zion Community was heavily forested with few settlers. Church services were held in a log kitchen belonging to Father Burns, on Concession 6, Lot 1, Enniskillen Township.  These services were conducted by Rev. Wm. Hicks.  Services were also held in a log schoolhouse at the top of Bear Creek Hill. In 1872, Rev. George Clark took over these services.

A meeting was called to discuss establishing a church.  Joseph Barnes offered one acre of land at Concession 7, Lot 1, Moore Township, for the church and burial ground.  The building materials began to be assembled for Zion Methodist Church.  Voluntary labour was used for the siding, frame, roofing and flooring.  Skilled labour was hired for the interior finishing.

The church was completed by 1873. The first pews used in the church were simple log boards supported by wooden blocks.  The pulpit was a table borrowed from the Temperance Lodge.  Rev. George Clark conducted the dedication service. He was succeeded by Rev. John Neelands and F. R. Clark.

Before 1878, Zion was under the supervision of the church at Mooretown. It then became part of the Brigden circuit. F. R. Clark was ordained and placed in charge of the circuit at this time.  He was followed by Rev. J. Wilson, Rev. G.R. Kerr, Rev. C.W. Voleck, Dr. Jas Husser and Rev. W. Quance.  Shortly after, Zion became part of the Marthaville circuit, which included Zion, Marthaville and Providence.

In 1910, Zion joined the Oil City charge. This charge consisted of Oil City, Zion, Rosedale and Wheeler.  The churches were served by probationers until Rev. S. Quinn arrived to take over.  Following Rev. S. Quinn were Mr. Max Parr, Mr. Jas Wicks, Mr. Charles Gower, Rev. James Finlay and James Higby.

The congregation voted in favour of church union in 1925, and became part of the United Church of Canada.  Following this, Rev. W.A. Leitch served the church for a period of one year. He was followed by Rev. Bolingbroke in 1926, Rev. H.F. Kennedy in 1927, and Mr. P.E. James in 1931.

In 1933, the church celebrated its 60th anniversary with two special services, a guest musician and a chicken supper. Dr. Husser conducted the services, assisted by Mr. James.   Mr. James served the church until 1935.  He was followed by Rev. G. Weir (1935-1937), Rev. W.J. Patton (1937-1941), and Rev. James Wilkins (1941-1946).

The 70th anniversary of the church was celebrated in in 1943.  Two well-attended services were conducted by guest minister, Rev. D. M. Guest.

In 1946, Rev. R.E. Southcott came to Zion United Church, and remained there for 14 years.  During this time, Zion United Church became part of a four point charge with Oil City, Oil Springs, and Rosedale.

At a congregational meeting in 1956 several decisions were made regarding the church building.  It was decided that the church would be moved back, and a basement added, which would include a kitchen and utility room.  Robert Clark was hired to do the work.  Volunteer labour was also used to build an addition to the back of the church and kitchen.  Most of the materials for these renovations were donated to the church.

Rev. David McLean came to the church in 1960 and remained there for one year.  He was followed by Rev. Austin Gay in 1961. Also in this year, Zion United Church voted to join Brigden United Church and form a two point charge.

On March 15th, 1961, a social evening was held to honour Mr. and Mrs. Robert Logan. Mr. Robert Logan was the Secretary-Treasurer for the church, and Mrs. Logan was an active member of the church and Women’s Association.

Further renovations were done in 1962, including refinishing woodwork, new tiles, new pews and an asphalt roof.  Materials for these renovations were donated by members of the church.

In 1963, the church celebrated its 90th anniversary, with Rev. Wm. McCosh of St. Luke’s United Church in Sarnia as guest speaker.

Rev. Wm. T. Eddy came to the church in 1962 and remained there for 3 years. He was followed by Rev. Merril Graham, who remained at the church until 1970.  Rev Alymer P. Smith came to the church in 1970 and was the first local person to serve there.  Rev. Smith was born in Petrolia and lived in Sarnia.  He conducted the services for the church’s 100th anniversary on Sept 16th, 1973.

In 2010, Zion United Church made the difficult decision to close its doors after 139 years.  Rev. Sandra Fogerty, who was Zion’s pastor at the time, attributed the decision to declining numbers, and the rising average age of members.

 

Interior of church, alter and pews