A tour of the Queensborough Pastoral Charge

My dad. In his official capacity, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick.  (Photo courtesy of my cousin Bruce Payne.)

I’ve referred many times to the churches at which my father, The Rev. Wendell Sedgwick, was minister in the years (1964-1975) that my family lived at the Manse in Queensborough. With this evening’s post I thought I’d take you on a little tour.

In 1964, just after his ordination as a United Church of Canada minister upon his graduation from Emmanuel College at Victoria College, University of Toronto, Dad was appointed to the Queensborough Pastoral Charge. The charge had three “points,” or churches. There was St. Andrew’s in Queensborough:

St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough. The white church hall at the right is a new addition since the time my family lived at the Manse. There was a hall (you can catch a small glimpse of it between the new one and the main brick building), but obviously it was much smaller.

 And Hazzard’s United Church in Hazzard’s Corners:

Lovely and historic Hazzard’s United Church at Hazzard’s Corners. (The “corners” being the intersection of Queensborough and Cooper Roads.) The church has been lovingly maintained by the community, and services are still held in it twice a year, in August and at Christmas. The next one: Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012.

And Cooper United Church in Cooper:

Cooper United Church. Isn’t it a pretty little building, in a pretty setting? It was painted white when it was a church. Now it is a private home.

The three churches were fairly equally spaced on a circuit that was about 20 miles around in total.

As I recall there were two services on Sunday morning, at 9:30 and 11 a.m., and a third in the evening, probably at 7:30 or 8 p.m. St. Andrew’s was considered the main church of the charge, and one of the morning services was always there. I believe there was a rotation between Hazzard’s and Cooper for the evening service. We kids always went to the morning service at St. Andrew’s, which of course was just a two-minute walk up the road from the Manse. We also went to Sunday School there, which was held before or after church, depending on whether the service was at 9:30 or 11 a.m. And I think we usually went to the evening service as well. I loved those evening services, which had a very different feel to them than a morning service. Quieter and more contemplative, perhaps. And I loved the drive home in the dark to the Manse afterwards, especially the route along the quiet country road between Cooper and Queensborough.

In 1967, however, there was a restructuring of the pastoral charge – and of many charges in the United Church. I suppose it was the beginning of the phenomenon that has by now hit most churches very hard indeed: people stopped coming. (Remember when Time magazine asked Is God Dead? And Pierre Berton published his bestseller The Comfortable Pew? Well, it was the Sixties. Everything had to be questioned. Here is a good article from Kenneth Bagnell in the United Church Observer that looks back at that mid-’60s cultural and secular shift – as well as ahead to the future.) Across the country many smaller churches were closed, and consolidations were made. The decision was made (at a higher level than that of the pastoral charge itself) to close the Hazzard’s and Cooper churches, and to merge with Eldorado United Church to become the Queensborough-Eldorado Pastoral Charge. I know how attached communities are to their churches, and it must have been so hard for the people of the Hazzard’s and Cooper areas to see their beautiful, historic little churches close down. Fortunately, many of them stayed loyal to the charge and became stalwarts in the new setup. Many Cooper and Hazzard’s people started attending St. Andrew’s, while some Hazzard’s people moved over to Eldorado United, where there was a sizeable and busy congregation.

Eldorado United Church, which is right on Highway 62 just outside the hamlet of Eldorado. Note the “Sold” sign on the front; the church closed last year and was put up for sale.

Queensborough-Eldorado was a healthy and flourishing pastoral charge for some years, well past the time when Dad accepted a call to the Seymour Pastoral Charge outside Campbellford, Ont., in 1975. (He served the four churches there from 1975 to 1986.) Unfortunately, that phenomenon of people not attending church just got bigger and bigger. The Eldorado church closed its doors last year and was sold to a private buyer this year.

It’s the same thing in so many places. As I write this, my mother, Lorna, is attending a meeting about the future of the Welcome United Church building in the village of Welcome, Ont.. The Hope Township Pastoral Charge, with three churches (“points”), was the third and final charge where Dad served, from 1986 until his retirement from the ministry in 1997. All seemed well with the charge until not very long ago, but two of the three churches have just closed and operations have been consolidated at Welcome; discussions are taking place about what to do next.

It is almost unimaginable now, in 2012, that in the 1960s and 1970s four small churches in tiny rural Queensborough, Hazzard’s Corners, Cooper and Eldorado were as much a going concern as they were. But they were; and my memories are the happier for it. I’m glad to have lived in those times.

And on a looking-to-the-future note, St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough, Ont., is still going, having just celebrated its 140th anniversary, and now with a very fine minister, The Rev. Caroline Giesbrecht, conducting services twice a month (with excellent lay-minister supply on the other Sundays). Raymond and I are happy to be a part of that. St. Andrew’s is a lovely little country church, with a great history and a warm welcome for all who come. Stop in if you’re in the neighbourhood!

5 thoughts on “A tour of the Queensborough Pastoral Charge

  1. Kathy: Some time prior to the “Sedgwick Era”, there was a four-point charge with Hart’s being the other church. We operated with three services per Sunday and one church had a “vacant Sunday” with only morning Sunday School. Hazzard’s vacant Sunday was the third Sunday of the month. Ask ol- timers like me and I can take you back to the era when some thought it unGodly to have two services on Sunday morning rather than an afternoon service. Even Wendel Sedgwick could not keep farmers awake on a hot summer Sunday afternoon after they had had six days of hard labour in the hayfield!

    • My goodness, Sunday afternoon services – what a concept! Didn’t they know that the highest and best use of a Sunday afternoon is a well-deserved nap?

      I knew of Hart’s church, but I guess I didn’t realize it had been part of the same charge. Last time we were in the area Raymond and I took a drive along Riggs and Hart’s Roads and stopped to read the plaque and take a photo where the church was. It’s nice the plaque has been put up to commemorate that old community institution.

      Hey Grant, while I’ve got your ear (so to speak), what time is the service at Hazzard’s on Aug. 19?

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. Katherine – serveral years ago, our family church, Ste. Jeanne d’Arc was closed along with many, many others in the state of Massachusetts. Down the street, (around the corner from my house), St. Rita’s church remains open. Many, many people were upset. After all, Ste. Jeanne d’Arc was the bigger church and also had an elementary school. Didn’t it make more sense to keep that one open?? School children now attend St. Rita’s, but I just could not. Last year I finally joined Bob’s mother’s church, St. Francis…a church in Dracut, a neighboring town. I am happy to go there, and Laurette is very happy that we bring her to her church when we’re home for the weekend.

  3. Katherine – An excellent review of a typical charge of the United Church of Canada in the local region. It must have been somewhat similar to the arrangements in the Flinton area of Lennox and Addington County where my father grew up as the son of the parsonage in the early years of the nineteenth century.

    Keep up your great work with the blogs.
    Gerry

    • Gerry, thank you so much (as always) for your kind comments. And – I had no idea that you too had connections to the parsonage, through your father! And also that you, though him, had connections to Flinton. I did another post (which is here) about a visit to Flinton that Raymond and I made a couple of years ago, which brought back memories for me because my dad was the supervising minister for that pastoral charge when I was a kid. Small world!

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