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Help our community experience God's presence


In the spring of 1960 a small white portable was built at the corner of Bellamy and Jarwick. The sign in front read, St. Ninian's Anglican Church; Rector Rev. Joseph Abbott; All welcome. There were not many homes built north of the hydro lines at that time but that soon changed.

By the fall more room was needed and so the gym at Bendale Public School was rented for Sunday Services and classrooms for the Sunday School.

The portable was used during the week for activities such as Advisory Board, Mothers' Morning Off, A.C.W (Anglican Church Women) and small group meetings.

At the same time as St. Ninian's was opening, the Church of the Master (United) and St. Rose of Lima (RC) opened. Several men from the parish canvassed every house in the area inviting people to join us or if they were not Anglican, letting them know there the nearest church for their faith was located.

In about three years, plans were drawn up for a real church. It was decided to build the Christian Education Centre first and the church in a few years when we had enough money. We are still waiting for that time to come.

The rectory on Baybrook was sold and the present rectory and two more houses were built on the Jarwick side of the property. The two houses were sold to raise money. Rev. Bill Hewton, our second rector and his wife had six children and so we needed a larger rectory.

This new church was named after a 4th century saint from Scotland. There are some historical items in the building. The original dark pews came from St. John's Garrison Church in downtown Toronto. These were later replaced by the present light coloured pews which came from St. Michael's Chapel. The dark pews were sold for $50 each. The lectern came from another church. Many other items were donated by members of the congregation.

In the beginning we had a very diverse congregation. Some came from high church, some from low, some very traditional and others evangelical and many from other denominations. We had many heated discussions about how we should do things but through discussion, love and compromise we came to a mutual understanding. St. Ninian's had no past traditions and has been free to develop as a distinct parish.

This was written in the handout showing the proposed new church: Saint Ninian Bishop of Galloway: 370-432, served his Lord and his church by converting the people of Scotland, for which he is remembered and honored.

We, like Saint Ninian are confronted with the challenge of gathering a congregation together and building a church in this area: for the Glory and Worship of Almighty God. Let us dedicate ourselves to this sacred task and build Saint Ninians Church on the corner of Bellamy Road and Jarwich Drive, as a witness to our faith in our Lord and the future.

"And they said, let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work". Nehemiah 2:18

Music has always played an important part. We had three choirs: seniors, youth and children. The robes for all three were made by ladies of the parish. The seniors sang at the 11.00 o'clock service and the younger people at the 9.00 o'clock service. "Holy Cow" a musical extravaganza was presented for the whole area to enjoy. Almost everyone in the parish had some part in this production. When the era of new church music began, the choir developed a "Folk Mass". When St. Ninian's would not hold all who wished to attend, the service was taken out to many parts of the city and diocese. St. Ninian's became known as the church that did different things. At Christmas time the choir and members of the congregation went around the parish singing Christmas carols.

We were blessed by members of the Tamil community joining our congregation. We held a number of Tamil-English evening services followed by short-eats. It was a wonderful way of getting to know each other.

We had wall-to-wall children from the very beginning. Rev. Bill Hewton said to take off the little one's shoes and let them roam around the church and they would not disturb anyone. The Fellowship Room was built-with the help of the Baker Grant to give us more room for Sunday School, but the Sunday School grew so large that we had to rent space in St. Richard's school up the street.

We had a number of weekday activities for the younger members of the parish. There were "Little Helpers" for the babies up to 5 years. Then the girls went to "Juniors" until age 11. On a Monday night there would be about 60 little girls. Then for the teenagers there was G.A. (Girls Auxiliary) and they meet on Tuesday evening. There were about 30 of them. The boys joined C.B.L. (Church Boys League) and there would be about 30 or 40 of them. They were all there to have fun, learn about Christ and how to get along with each other.

The older teens had two groups (14-17) and 17 and up. From this group, four or five of the fellows went into the ministry. Richard Tanner our fifth rector was one of our teenagers. A number of the young people married and moved away. They are now active members of other congregations. Some have gone to work in the mission fields.

We had many fund raising activities such as selling shortbread at Christmas, making Easter Eggs and bazaars which both involved most of the congregation. The G.A. sold peppermint paddies to raise money. The ladies with the help of the G.A. catered to many dinners for local organizations such as hockey teams, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides and we also catered to a number of weddings.

The men were not idle. They kept the building in good repair by forming work parties. In this way the work done at a reasonable price and fellowship was developed.

All our efforts were not spent on ourselves. The Couples Club went to Rockcliffe Nursing Home once a month to help out with the Pub Night. This went on for a number of years. Once a year we would bring some of the residents from the home to the church for dinner and entertainment. As time went on we opened the Food Bank and started E.S.L. classes.

Over the years we have had a number of different types if Bible Studies. One of the most outstanding was the "Thursday Come Together", Under the leadership of Richard Tanner 20 to 40 members of the congregation met on Thursday evening to study and discuss the Word of God. At present we have a number of cell groups which meet in different homes. A number of our people went to Cursillo to strengthen their faith and develop their leadership skills.

This is just a sketch of the early years of St. Ninian's. Changes are still happening but we still strive to grow under God's direction; to be a friendly church and to reach out to our community.