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Wesley United - A Look Back
by Cyril Chapman - Mainstreeter - June 1988

The yellow brick church at the corner of Main Street and Graham Avenue is the third building used by the Wesley congregation since its formation in De-cember of 1908. At that time, a small number of Ottawa East Methodists saw a need for a church in the area. Their main concern was for their children, who had to walk to McLeod Methodist Church on Bank Street to attend Sun-day school. The first services were held in a room above a grocery store at 30 Main Street - virtually beside the Grand Trunk Railway tracks, where the Queensway is now.

The newly formed Ottawa Methodist Social Union had, as its mandate, the establishment of new Methodist churches in outlying areas, and its first project was to help provide Ottawa East with a local church. The first actual church building was built in 1909, dedicated on July 11th.
It was a small, red brick structure, and it stood until 1963, on land that is now the church parking lot. The front of the building faced Hawthorne A venue, which, in those days, ran close to the north side of the present church. When the street was relocated northward, it left Wesley's front door opening onto what would eventually be the backyards of houses built on the street's south side. The door was therefore bricked up an the main entrance moved to the other end of the building to face the new Graham A venue.

Much of the work in building that church was done by its members, and many things were added later as finances permitted, such as a basement floor, plumbing and a kitchen. Second-hand pews replaced the wooden chairs but several years passed before a pulpit and choir rails were obtained.
Wesley's first social function took place on the evening following the opening of the church. A tea, organized by the women of the Ladies' Aid Society, was held on the spacious lawn next to the building and drew a crowd of more than seven hundred.

With that event began a history of dedicated service to the church by its women, through their successive orga-nizations. The original Ladies' Aid So-ciety, followed by the Women's Associ-ation and the United Church Women (U.C.W.) have filled and do now fill a vital role in the welfare of Wesley. A Men's Association and Young Adult group also share in the work and fellow-ship of the church.

A growing congregation and a need for more space led to the erection of the current Wesley United Church. The change from Methodist to United came in 1925 when the United Church of Canada was born with the amalgama-tion of most Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational denominations.

The late Rev. A.J. Love, minister dur-ing the construction of the new build-ing, presided at the inaugural services on February 28, 1954. Since its incep-tion, Wesley Methodist/United Church has seen twenty-nine ordained minis-ters, student ministers and laypersons occupy the pulpit on a regular basis. The most recent pastor, Rev. William Taylor, assumed his duties in July of 1986. Before entering the ministry he was a member of the Nepean Police Force and is now its chaplain.

Our Sunday School is preparing for its' annual Promotion exercises at a special service in June. And we are working to increase the size of the SundaySchool. (Back in 1917 the Wesley Sunday School was awarded a banner for, having the highest average weekly attendance of all Ottawa area Methodist 1 Sunday Schools.)

This year marks the church's eightieth anniversary and a number of special events have been planned. One Saturday this Fall will be set aside for , Ottawa East residents, and any others , who might be interested, to "Come See the Windows", an opportunity to view the many stained-glass windows from within the sanctuary, and join friends and neighbours in the church hall for tea. We are also organizing a hymn sing and an organ recital. We expect that Dr. Ann Squire, present Moderator of the United Church of Canada will occupy Wesley's pulpit on November 6th.
Wesley United Church is not large, but it is friendly and welcomes anyone seeking a church home.

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