The Little Church That Could

“So,” you must be saying to yourself, “I wonder how that 124th-anniversary service at St. Andrew’s United Church in Queensborough went.” What? You weren’t saying that to yourself? Well, why ever not? Surely I whetted your appetite with my setup piece last week, in which I told you the strange-but-true story of how Goldie Holmes, “the Quilt Lady” from across the way from the Manse in Queensborough back when I was a kid here, wrote a song that was, once upon a time, recorded by a then-relatively famous country music singer named Alberta Slim. And of how that song would be sung this past Sunday as one of the highlights of the almost-century-and-a-quarter service at St. Andrew’s United, the church I grew up in and of which I am once again a proud member.

Anyway, whether you were wondering or not, I’m going to tell you. And it is going to be a multimedia extravaganza, people! Complete with the video at the top of this post (thanks to Terry Pidgen of Centre Hastings Television, CHTV), and audio, and a photo gallery. Not to mention my deathless prose. What more could you wish for?

Actually, I’ll try to keep my deathless prose to a minimum. The service was lovely. We had a good turnout of people from near and far, people with longtime connections to St. Andrew’s and Queensborough, and quite a few newer faces too. (Two of them being – and I am very honoured to say this – none other than Hastings County‘s greatest historian, Gerry Boyce [you can read about Gerry here and here and, in a nice piece in the Belleville Intelligencer about the latest honour to come his way, here] and his wife, Bev, all the way from Belleville. What a thrill it was for me to finally get to meet Gerry and Bev in person!)

The special music by the group Praise Friends – made up of six women (five singers and an accompanist) from throughout the Hastings County area – was extraordinary. The sermon by our minister, The Rev. Caroline Giesbrecht, was wonderful; it was entitled “The Little Church That Could” (remember the great story of The Little Engine That Could? Every mum in the congregation sure did, having read it to their kids thousands of times), which was pretty much perfect to celebrate a small church that has been a vital force in the community since 1890 – and all small rural churches that make a difference in the community around them.

The lunch after the service was, like every lunch or supper you will ever be served at a Queensborough community event, plentiful and delicious; and it was marvellous to see people renewing old friendships, catching up on family and community news, and meeting new friends. And the rendition by Katherine Fleming, a member of Praise Friends whose connections with St. Andrew’s run deep, of Goldie Holmes’s song Let’s Fill Our Hearts with Love, was just great. (If you click on the video of the service atop this post, you’ll find Katherine’s solo starting at about the 27-minute mark.) Goldie, a faithful member of St. Andrew’s for many decades, would have been – and up there from where she was looking down on us, doubtless was – thrilled to hear it.

So yes, it was a terrific day in the long history of St. Andrew’s United Church. I am so thrilled that Terry Pigden decided to film it for posterity (and so that you good folks could see it). In addition, here are a few photos by yours truly:

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And here, to finish things off, is a recording of our congregation singing that great old hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness – a perfect hymn for a celebration of a church’s long life. To my mind, there are few things more moving than a country church full of people singing a favourite old hymn. The addition of a descant part by Praise Friends in the final verse was the final touch:

So, members and friends of St. Andrew’s, whether you were able to join us Sunday or are catching up on the event here – as The Rev. Giesbrecht said in concluding her sermon: Happy Anniversary!

6 thoughts on “The Little Church That Could

  1. Wonderful blog and a Happy Anniversary to our neighbours. Interesting factoid: Joe Ash, my mentor in the rhyme-writing world and mentioned in “The Camp At The Hayrake” was Goldie’s brother. He could write poems, yodel and tell great stories, just like Goldie did and was just as feisty. .

    • Thanks on behalf of St. Andrew’s for the anniversary wishes, gng! Yes, clearly Goldie and her brother Joe had a lot of talent in common. Theirs must have been a lively household when they were children!

  2. A wonderful service

    Bev and I appreciated the opportunity to meet Katherine and Raymond for the first time, photograph the manse (from the outside) and share the church service and the wonderful lunch with the members and friends of the church. It’s great to see the spirit that exists in this community.

    We look forward to attending future services on special occasions – for example Hazzard’s Corners Church in August. Katharine, please keep your readers informed as to the date for that service.

    Sorry for the late response, but Bev and I were in Newmarket today attending the final rites for Marlene Cribar, whose husband Crag ministered at Presbyterian churches in Belleville and Roslin.

    Regards to all.
    Gerry and Bev

    • Gerry, as I said in my post, it was just wonderful to have you and Bev join us. Next time you will have to come see the Manse from the inside! And yes, I promise I will keep readers posted about the date of the annual summer service at Hazzard’s Church.

      I am sorry to hear of the death of Mrs. Cribar. I’m sure some other readers would know her and her husband.

  3. A further note – wonderful to listen to the music and see the singers – thanks to Terry Pigden of Madoc, who taped the service. Terry is a cousin of Bev, whose uncles were Charlie Pigden of Madoc and Charlie Parm of Cannifton.
    God Bless!

    • It was great that Bev was able to renew that family connection Sunday, what with both you folks and Terry and Eileen Pigden being at the St. Andrew’s service. And yes, it was so great that Terry was able to record the service – what an invaluable service for preserving local history!

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