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History

Written by Marian Patterson-Coombes


Wesley Methodist Church was organized in 1835 by Mr. George Bucher, school teacher and local preacher. Services were held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Peter White. (The White home stood below the Pembroke Foodliner, close to Nelson Street.) By 1838 there were 25 members, so church services were held in the log schoolhouse in Lowertown. (At this time Pembroke was called Campbelltown.)

In 1845, under the leadership of Rev. Henry Shaler, plans were made to build a church. In 1846, a new church, 26 by 36 feet, was erected on the borders of Uppertown, on the farm of Peter White. (This site was 422 Pembroke Street East, the corner of Elizabeth and Pembroke Streets. Elizabeth Street was named for one of Mr. and Mrs. Peter White's daughters.) Unfortunately many of the records of the new church from 1859 to 1870 were destroyed in a disastrous fire in 1875, when the church and many homes east of Elizabeth Street were burned.

On March 5, 1873, the Official Board authorized the purchase of the site of the present church. Rev. H.F. Bland assisted in the planning. The new brick church was 66 feet wide by 98 feet long; the tower, 64 feet high, finished with pinnacles and railings. The church was officially opened in January 1884 with Rev. Dr. James Elliott (great-grandfather of John Summers) as its first minister. It was first lighted with electricity in October 1884.

In 1911 an extension was built, 30 feet by 70 feet, consisting of additional Sunday School space, a new heating system, enlarged choir space, and a new vestry for the minister.
In 1925, Wesley Church became part of the United Church of Canada. During the ministry of Rev. H.M. Servage, 1940-1944, Wesley Church became the first to broadcast its morning service over radio station CHOV. We continue this practice fifty years later, the second Sunday of each month over radio station CHVR.

During 1952 and 1953 the interior of the church and Sunday School Hall were remodeled and renovated. A new west entrance was also added then. On Nov. 18, 1962 the new Fellowship Hall was opened to provide better gymnasium and auditorium facilities. In 1987 an elevator was installed and that same year Cassie Lemke had new doors at the main entrance dedicated in memory of her husband, Arthur Lemke. In July 1989 a new roof was put on the church.

Over the years, people have been generous, donating stained glass windows, furnishings, regalia, plaques, communion vessels and many other items to the church. We look forward to sharing the good news of the gospel.
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