A Short History of Woodbridge United Church
The first settlers emigrated to York Region in the early 1800’s. As early as 1805, saddleback preachers visited the people settling on either side of Yonge Street from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe.
In the early 1830's a few Christians in and around what would become the village of Woodbridge met in homes to study the Methodist teachings of John Wesley. Their numbers grew and in 1886 they built a log building at the top of a hill overlooking the Humber River. There is a stone monument commemorating this original site, about one kilometer north of the present church.
Within 20 years, the tiny log church became too small for the growing congregation so they replaced it with a larger brick church in 1856. Although this church was small (6 x 15 metres) it featured beautiful gothic windows, neatly finished pews and six large lamps.
After worshiping for 30 years at this church, the growing congregation decided to move one kilometer to the south. They purchased the property for $225 where they constructed the present building at a cost of $6500. They modeled the church after St. Paul's United Church in Brampton.
The congregation celebrated the first worship service in July 13, 1886. With the construction of this new building came the first full time ordained minister, who shared his time here and with another church at Emery, at the corner of Finch Avenue and Weston Road.
Although the church began as a Methodist Church, in 1925 it became a United Church. The congregation voted to join the merger of the Methodist Church with the larger Presbyterian Church to form the United Church of Canada.
When Emery United Church closed in 1959, its congregation gave a legacy to Woodbridge United and one of our meeting rooms became "The Emery Room."
The congregation built the Sunday school addition in 1952. Our forefathers showed remarkable foresight when they designed a facility that is completely accessible to the physically disabled.
Music has always played an important part of worship for Methodist churches and our church is no exception. The first organ was a pump organ. A young man pumped air into the bellows. On one occasion the organist began to play the last hymn only to discover that the young man beside the organ had fallen asleep during the service.
The congregation funded the current magnificent Cassavant pipe organ in 1960. Visiting speakers to this church always praise the beautiful pipe organ played by a talented organist and supported by a wonderful choir. The acoustics in the building are excellent and visiting artists are happy to perform in this sanctuary.
The original pews were stained dark and attached to the floor with black iron braces. There were two aisles. In 1974, new blond pews were installed around a centre aisle. The congregation dedicated two beautiful stained glass windows to the memory of all those who had served the church over the years.
The five large chandeliers were installed in the church in the early 1950's. They were acquired second hand and had once hung in a theatre in Toronto.
In 1967, Woodbridge United Church joined York Presbytery, which represents all the United Churches in York Region.
(This short history is based on a booklet written by Mary Wood in 1986)