History of St John’s
The earliest records of the Anglican Church in Stirling were destroyed by fire so the documented history of St John’s begins in 1847 when the Mission of Stirling embraced Stirling Village, Marmora, Madoc and parts of the township of Rawdon, Sidney and Huntingdon. The Reverend Groves was the incumbent and services were held either in the schoolhouse or in the original Town Hall.
In 1859 the Reverend J.A. Preston was appointed rector and under his leadership a small but dedicated group of church people undertook to erect a place of worship. The cornerstone was laid under Mason auspices on June 25th, 1860 on land donated by Wm. Mitchell. The beautiful little Gothic Church opened for services the following year and remains today, 145 years later, a fine example of the stonemason’s art of the day. A copper plate left in the cornerstone names the Church “St. John the Evangelist”. The architects Fuller & Jones of Toronto, who also designed the first House of Parliament in Ottawa, prepared the building plan. The superintendent of works was Mr. Richard Meath of Trenton, an engineer who had emigrated from Ireland to assist in the building of the Trent Canal. In 1860 Stirling was a Mission of the Diocese of Toronto. In 1862 the Diocese of Ontario was separated from Toronto Diocese with the first Bishop being John Travers Lewis. In the first confirmation class in the new church in 1862 were James Belshaw and Mary Buttimer. Their marriage in 1863 was the first in St. John’s Church.
In 1910 the Vestry was enlarged and called the George E. Cryer Memorial Hall. Further renovations were made in 1977 to provide space for the Altar Guild and access to the chancel. The rectory was purchased in 1904 and extensive repairs undertaken in 1945. On June 19th, 1936 the cornerstone for the Parish Hall was laid by the Rt. Rev. John Lyons, Bishop of Ontario. The work of the stone masonry was directed by Wilfred Spencer and the carpentry by Floyd Armstrong. By October of that year the new Parish Hall was opened as a memorial to all past members of the Church.
Many adjustments have been made to the parish boundaries over the years. At various times, St. John’s Stirling has been united with Marmora, Rawdon and Frankford to form Parishes. By 1900 Stirling and Frankford were united. In 1943 St. Thomas, Rawdon was again attached to Stirling and then in 1950 was added to the Marmora Parish. In 1952 Christ Church, Glen Miller was added to the parish of Stirling/Frankford. In 1986 a team ministry was begun with the Rev. R.S.G. Wright in Stirling and the Rev. Gerry Ring in Frankford and Glen Miller, sharing parish duties. The ultimate goal of the team ministry was to facilitate the formation of the two parishes. This was accomplished in 1989.
In 1989 the Gabriel Kney pipe organ was installed and dedicated June 10th, 1990. Extensive renovations including new double doors linking the church and parish hall were completed in 1991. New entrance doors for both the church and parish hall were installed at that time.
The original stained glass windows at the front of the church were restored in 1992/93. During previous restorations a crate was discovered containing the stained glass from the windows over the altar. That glass has been incorporated in the parish hall windows.
In 1995 St. John’s was the recipient of a magnificent Steinway grand piano through the generosity of the Connor family of Belleville. This wonderful instrument has served as a delightful addition to the music of the Sunday liturgy. Aspiring musicians have been encouraged to use the piano and in fact share their talents as a part of our services.
From 1998 to 2001 the large stained glass window between the parish hall and church was removed and replaced with etchedglass dedicated to various parishioners and their families. Also completed was the replacement of the heating system and the renovations to the lower level of the parish hall. The renovations were paid for by an anonymous family of the parish. Both levels of the parish hall are extensively used by parish and outside groups, which serves as a form of outreach to our community.
Since the late 1990s, St. John’s has been providing a weekly hot supper from September through to June. These “St. Martha’s Suppers” are one of God’s wonderful little miracles…. where any and all in the community are welcome to come and join us for fun, fellowship and a nutritious dinner. Another longstanding tradition is our monthly “Outreach Luncheons.” With the ministries of cooking and feeding people being such an active part of our reaching out into the community, in 2009 St. John’s undertook a rather extensive renovation of the kitchen, and now has a much more modern and efficient kitchen and serving space! St Martha’s turned off her ovens and hung up her apron in the Spring of 2019 after decades of faithful service. This Ministry was sorely missed by all.
From the beginning St. John’s has been a place where Christian People gather for praise, prayer and fellowship. The history of St. John’s is a record of a “gifted” community. The most precious of our gifts has always been the people who call this place home.