Social Justice Concerns
Territorial Land Acknowledgement
We want to acknowledge that the land we are gathered on today is First Nations’ territory, the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Attawandaron, and Wendat peoples. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. We also want to offer respect to our neighbouring Indigenous nations, including the Metis, Cree and Inuit amongst many others. Our necessities of life are here and our work today is possible because of the stewardship of the 7 generations who came before us.
Our Creator who dwells in the sky world
Your name is sacred.
Bring us your kingdom and let your will be done on mother earth and in the sky world.
Give us today the harvest of your land.
Forgive us for what we have done wrong.
Forgive those who have done wrong to us.
Don’t let us be led into wrong doing.
But let us walk the good path with a good mind.
You are our everything and you are everywhere.
You are powerful and you dwell in glory.
Before, now and forever.
Photo: Orange Shirt Sunday - September 25, 2022
National Indigenous Day of Prayer - June 21 is National Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Indigenous Ministries supports the Indigenous Peoples of Canada (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) spiritually, socially, economically and politically. We recognize that the purity of the land base provides for all our needs. As active participants in the life of the church, we strive for reconciliation with the Anglican Communion and work towards Indigenous self-determination.
More information on the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples, their work and many other resources may be found at: https://www.anglican.ca/im/
Navajo Beauty Way Prayer “Walk in Beauty” from the women of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland. Blessing led by the Rev. Canon Cornelia Eaton at Sheep Camp, Navajoland.
Prayers, an adaptation of the Great Thanksgiving. Led by Ms. Judith Moses and Mr. John Haugen, members of the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples.
Homily by the Rt. Rev. Chris Harper, Bishop of Saskatoon
The Strawberry Story, written by the late Canon Ginny Doctor, read by Donna Bomberry.
One particularly inportant resources is Doctrine of Discovery: Stolen lands, Strong Hearts. The purpose of this one hour long film is to respond to the calls to action by helping to provide education and insight into the racist foundations of many of our property and other laws still in existence to this day.
- Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada
- First Nations University of Canada
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports
- National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls
- Canadian Encyclopedia
In 2019, St. Anne's hosted a Blanket Exercise and were pleased to have 29 people join us for this event.
In 2021 St. Anne's grew some fresh food for the local Byron Cares Food Bank. A greenhouse was supplied to the church by Business Cares London and the London Food Bank. In 2022 we continue this project with thanks to Green Horizon Sod Farms/Big Yellow Bags and Home Hardware Komoka for their donations to help us restart the greenhouse operation. Many thanks to the people behind these organizations for caring enough about their neighbours to support this effort!
Volunteers will spend time caring for our garden beds several times a week from May until the end of September, weeding and watering as needed so the plants have good ventilation and moisture. You can also sign up for harvesting when the crops are ready to deliver to Byron Cares. Signing up to help will continue this year with internet based SignUp.com. Reminder emails are sent out so volunteers know which task to do.
Or you can:
1) Click this link to see our SignUp on SignUp.com: https://signup.com/go/mQNdEHJ
2) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you like.
3) Sign up! It's Easy - you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on SignUp.com.
A pdf formatted guide to working in the greenhouse is available and updated for 2022. Everyone from the community is welcome to participate. 2021 was a season of learning for us and we will putting those ideas into practice in 2022. If you are interested in participating or have questions, please send us a note.
St. Paul's Daily Bread Program, a registered charity, is an ecumenical social service provider supported by over 50 London and area churches of various denominations, a number of service and fraternal organizations and hundreds of caring individuals on a regular ongoing basis. The Daily Bread Program is available to anyone need in the community who is in need and is one of the few agencies in London that offers emergency financial assistance in crisis situations pertaining to shelter and/or utilities cut off as funds permit.
The Trap, created by the Ontario Government, simulates the realities of being targeted, recruited, and exploited by a sex trafficker. It is designed to be used as part of a discussion facilitated by an adult, helping you teach your kids about human trafficking in an interactive, impactful way.
Courage for Freedom is one organization working to increase awareness of this practice of human sex trafficking and its presence along the 400 series highways and have a Project Maple Leaf intitiave to spread the word - https://courageforfreedom.org/solution/projectmapleleaf/ Can you spread the word?
In 2019, 14 members of the congregation attended a public rally in July to learn more about what can be done to decrease human trafficking. It was both informational and inspiring.
Internationally, human trafficking, bonded labour and slavery are still very prevalent in some parts of the world. The International Justice Mission (IJM) - https://www.ijm.org/ - partners with local authorities in 24 program offices in 14 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children, and police abuse of power against people who are poor. IJM is a global organization partnering with local justice systems to end violence against people living in poverty.
An article in Christianity Today about an IJM opearation to end slavery on Lake Volta.
Researched and written by Shirley Geigen Miller
Chapter X - Metamorphosis Continues
More on the 1940s
By the time of Rev. French’s departure in February, 1945, the members of St. Anne’s were well-practiced at taking responsibility for the functioning of the church. They had also learned to co-operate and negotiate with the other two churches in the three-point parish. A growth-spurt indeed.
Just as French had empowered church members to serve as leaders, parishioners could now empower each other to accept opportunities to serve.
To be sure, the priest would always be the spiritual/pastoral leader who would also act as adviser, listener, teacher, visionary, administrator or cheerleader, as required. Still, many parishioners now saw their own roles as being essential to the life of the faith community, as well.
In this spirit, St. Anne’s welcomed their next priest, the Rev. John William Donaldson into their midst on April 22, 1945. The son of a priest and a “seasoned” priest himself, Donaldson brought his own gifts and experiences to his ministry at Byron, Hyde Park and Lambeth.
John W. Donaldson was born in Halifax in 1907, grew up in Nova Scotia and graduated from Dalhousie University with a B.A. He earned a Licentiate in Theology (L.Th) from Wycliffe College in Toronto and was ordained deacon in 1934 by Bishop Warrell of Nova Scotia. Then he went to serve “Christ and His church” in the Peace River District of Alberta.
In April, 1935 he married Katherine Elizabeth Hessey at Spirit River and in May he was ordained priest at Peace River by Bishop Sovereign of Athabasca. Living near two rivers with inspiring names – Spirit and Peace – the couple spent over five years in the area with Donaldson serving the church as he intended.
In 1941 the Donaldsons travelled east to Ontario, entering the Diocese of Huron. At the bidding of Bishop Charles Seager, Rev. Donaldson ministered at Ailsa Craig (a three-point-parish), and then at Lucknow (a four-point-parish), before arriving at Byron, Hyde Park and Lambeth in April, 1945. The Donaldsons moved into the rectory at Hyde Park.
At this time, all three of the parish communities - Byron, Hyde Park and Lambeth - were experiencing rapid population increases. St. Anne’s was struggling to accommodate the needs of a “fast-growing” congregation.
Board of Management considered putting an addition on the West Wing to create more space for the Sunday School. But there was a snag. The Canadian government had imposed wartime restrictions on many construction materials which were needed by the military. Any materials available were expensive. The board put the plan on hold until restrictions were lifted and construction was “feasible”.
In this time period, Kae Hart resigned as Sunday School Superintendent. Milton Keam and J. R. Mitchell acted as superintendents from 1945 to 1948.
In May, 1945, when the board was informed that the primary Sunday School class had doubled in size, board members ordered “another table and benches.” (from board minutes)
A more realistic solution would be found later.
War Front News
Into the midst of this quandary came good news from the war front. On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered to the Western Allies and to Russia on May 9. Both dates marked V-E Day, Victory in Europe. A relief in stressful times.
War in the Pacific Theatre, however, was to continue for another four months. The people of St. Anne’s, of course, had no idea when the war would be over. They turned to a more do-able project at the church. With so many factors beyond their control, there was one thing they COULD do – build a fence.
For some time, the congregation had liked the idea of installing a new fence across the front of the church building. Iron and wood fencing were in short supply, therefore costly. A stone fence, however, was in the financial ballpark.
On Sunday, April 29, 1945, at a meeting of the congregation, the board presented a proposal for a stone fence. The members of St. Anne’s approved the proposal and urged the board to hire an architect and proceed.
Action was taken immediately. There were sketches by an architect, a detailed design by stonemason, Alfred Frank, and a fund for the stone fence was started by the Bible Class.
The adult Bible class, led by layreader W.P. Simpson, ran for several years in the 1940s.
Enthusiasm for the new stone fence seems to have touched most sectors of the congregation. Whether it was because of the fence itself or because the project gave parishioners a diversion from worldwide woes, we’ll never know.
However, in July, 1945, circumstances suddenly changed. From the first of the month, some restrictions on construction materials were lifted.
During a meeting of Board of Management on July, 10, parishioner George Cotton presented the wardens with a cheque for $500. toward the fence. He said that “more [money] would be given if needed” and “he and his wife wish the fence to be whatever the people wanted.” (from board minutes)
The end result from Cotton’s generous gift was – not a stone fence – but a wrought iron gate and fence with stone pillars. As Grace Bainard put it, the fence “makes a graceful and dignified entrance to the church.”
In early August, the United States took action against Japan, dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The devastation caused by the bombs was huge. On Aug. 15, Japan announced its intention to surrender. The formal surrender took place on Sept 2, 1945, officially ending the Second Global War.
Between the date of Japan’s intention to surrender and the date of formal surrender Rev. Donaldson held a “peace service” at St. Anne’s on Aug. 19.
Meanwhile, some of the younger church members had already been thinking ahead. The Junior Auxiliary (JA) had presented the church with an Honour Roll listing the names of St. Anne’s members who did active service in the war.
The JA was a group of pre-teen girls affiliated with the Women’s Auxiliary (WA). Names on the Honour Roll were inscribed by Kae Hart and the Roll was placed in the church entrance.
Sunday School Accommodations
Then the congregation was ready to tackle a pressing issue – the overcrowded Sunday School.
Still expecting to build an addition on the parish room in the near future, church members looked for a temporary solution. It was found quickly. St. Anne’s was fortunate to obtain permission to use a classroom in the “old school” next door. The church could avail the classroom on Sunday mornings until an extension to the West Wing was possible.
Due to unforeseen circumstances that addition was never built. And temporary solutions for the Sunday School would be needed for more than 10 years. Nevertheless the issue of the overcrowded Sunday School WAS resolved. For the time being.
It was an era when circumstances and regulations were constantly changing. St. Anne’s successfully adapted to the needs of this chaotic time.
Through it all, the congregation faithfully maintained a Sunday School program for an ever-growing number of children. This required more teachers and helpers, more supplies, more planning and organization. At various times, classes were held in the church nave, the parish room, the old school, the church basement, and eventually the rectory, to meet the need.
In total, all these sites helped provide enough room to accommodate those who came to learn the Faith.
In his rector’s report to the annual Vestry meeting, January 20, 1946, Rev. Donaldson remarked on how unforgettable the year 1945 had been. He urged parishioners to give “heartfelt gratitude to God for the great victory.”
He also introduced the Anglican Advance Appeal campaign. A donation to the appeal would be a thank-offering for the victorious ending of the war and would be used to support the church’s work throughout Canada.
There were now 53 families on the parish roll – a total of 192 souls. Average attendance at Sunday services had risen to 58.
During vestry, Thomas Sulston was recognized for his 35 years of untiring service as People’s Warden for St. Anne’s. Archie Kains presented him with a billfold and $50.
A year later Mr. Sulston was laid to rest in St. Anne’s Cemetery.
During the remainder of 1946 and 1947, St. Anne’s dealt with a number of issues simultaneously. They will follow, one at a time, for the sake of clarity.
William Handley was the church sexton, also known as custodian, from 1942 to 1955. He cleaned the church and parish room and saw that they were properly heated as needed. He tended the gas furnace. When the classroom in the old school was being used by the Sunday School, Handley cleaned that as well. In winter he kept the school’s coal furnace operating on Sunday mornings.
Besides all this, the sexton was responsible for maintaining the cemetery which included digging the graves. (from A History of St. Anne’s Anglican Cemetery)
In late 1946 or early 1947 “an unfortunate accident occurred when our sexton, Mr. Wm. Handley was badly burned while inspecting the gas furnace…The explosion caused considerable damage to the heating equipment. (from Grace Bainard)
Handley’s injuries were so severe, he required in-hospital care. This was long before OHIP was in effect.
On April 17, 1947, Board of Management received a letter from Handley about making a claim on Union Gas Company [for damages]. Board member A.R. Clinchy agreed to contact the gas company on Handley’s behalf. (Board Minutes)
A reply from Union Gas was read to the board on June 5. The company wrote that “they do not accept nor assume any responsibility” [for the incident]. (Board Minutes)
The board moved to “offer Handley payment of his doctors and hospital bills to the end of his stay in hospital” and to “inform him that neither the gas company nor the church accept responsibility.” (Minutes, June 5, 1947)
The church would later have the furnace repaired by Stacey & Co. Then on Sept 21, 1948, the board announced that $200 had been “paid by the insurance company for damage to the furnace.” (Minutes)
While St. Anne’s was dealing with issues involving the sexton and the furnace, they were also grappling with a bigger challenge.
A Crack in the Wall
W.P. Simpson was the first to publicly sound the alarm.
In September, 1946 he spoke of the large crack in the church’s northwest wall, a crack that was gradually increasing. He predicted “they would have to erect buttments at each corner to balance or else tear it all down.” (from Board of Management Minutes, Sept. 11, 1946)
Simpson’s warnings went unheeded for several months, until…. On Jan.31, 1947, Rev. Donaldson raised the matter of “repairs to the north end of the church,” (from Board Minutes)
THEN the action started. A committee was formed which, in turn, engaged Philip Johnson as architect to make an assessment of the north end and make recommendations.
Johnson was a parishioner, familiar with the building. His professional findings included: the church building was sagging and falling away from the windows, the ceiling could collapse, the foundation was inadequate and needed to be upgraded, and the northwest wall had to come down. (April, 1947). By September, Johnson added the “rotten state of the wood in the porchway” to the list.
Addressing Board of Management on Sept. 10, 1947, Philip Johnson, architect, stated: “If there was any idea of extending the church, now would be the time to do it. The approximate cost of adding 10 feet would be $3,500.” The contractor would be a Mr. McClure.” (Board Minutes)
After much discussion, the board agreed to put the matter to the congregation with the board recommending the 10-foot extension. (Minutes)
Four days later the congregation approved the addition.
Once again a major project was under way. The work would include rebuilding the whole north end of the church and porch, plus extending the church to the north by 10 feet.
Financing the Project
St. Anne’s launched a fundraising campaign the week of October 19, 1947. The goal was to raise $4,000 in one year.
Rev. Donaldson got the ball rolling. He prepared a mimeographed letter to send to current and former parishioners of St. Anne’s, explaining the reason for the campaign. The letter was endorsed by Archie Kains (Rector’s Warden) and A.B. Sabine (People’s Warden). A mailing committee of five church women readied and posted the letters.
Shortly thereafter – with work on the building already in progress – canvassers visited all members of the church. These dedicated canvassers answered questions on the building project and offered suggestions for making cash or pledge contributions.
Just three months later, the building committee reported the campaign results to date: $3,245.06 received and approximately $1,000 [in pledges] still to come in. (from Annual Vestry Minutes, Jan. 29, 1948).
The campaign had surpassed its target. This was a great blessing to St. Anne’s, especially as the full $4,200. was needed in the end. An extra $400. had been required for strapping the church with InsulBoard and $50. more went to a new porch roof.
With the nave out of bounds due to rebuilding, changes were made to keep the church functioning. Sunday services were held in the West Wing and a couple of Sunday School classes were moved to the church basement. Worshippers and children, at their appointed times, entered by the West Wing door.
Current parishioner Barbara Kightley remembers attending Sunday School in the church basement.
A Pile of Dirt
In June, 1946, the sexton requested the removal of a pile of dirt in the cemetery at the back of the church. The request was approved by Board of Management, but follow-through was delayed until running water could be installed in the West Wing. Water installation was completed in Sept. 1946. Then a bee was arranged for Oct. 7, when willing church members removed the pile of dirt and distributed it as needed in the cemetery.
Rectory Costs – Paying our Share
In January, 1947, the rector pointed out that Church of the Hosannas had been paying all the taxes on the rectory at Hyde Park for some years. He wondered why Hyde Park had “shouldered the expense entirely.” (from Board of Management minutes)
As a result, St. Anne’s board voted to pay one third of the taxes for the rectory. (from board minutes, March 5, 1947). This may sound like a reasonable response but it’s not the end of the story
Hosannas had been paying the insurance on the rectory for some time, as well, without any input from St. Anne’s or Trinity. The cost of insurance and taxes together was $50 a year. Negotiations by the three congregations were required.
Hence, wardens from Hosannas, St. Anne’s and Trinity met on May 20, 1947 to discuss rectory expenses. A motion was put forward that rectory costs be met on the same basis as the rector’s stipend. Archie Kains, from St. Anne’s, said he wanted to speak to his Board of Management before agreeing to the motion. (from meeting minutes). Archie’s uncertainty may have been because Byron’s share of the rector’s stipend was now 50 per cent. Hyde Park and Lambeth contributed 25 per cent each. It was no longer an even three-way split.
Nevertheless, after discussion, St. Anne’s board decided in July, “to pay our pro rata share of taxes, insurance, telephone and minor repairs” at the rectory. (from minutes)
Precisely when the rector’s stipend arrangements were changed, is not clear. However, it is likely the stipend shares for the three-point parish were modified sometime between January 1944 and March 1945. Curiously, St. Anne’s Board of Management minutes for the relevant 14-month period are either missing or were not recorded. They are not located at the Diocesan archives nor have they been found at St. Anne’s. It seems highly unlikely that the board would stop meeting altogether for such a long stretch. They must have met “in camera” (i.e. in private).
After the 14- month hiatus, board minutes went on as usual and St. Anne’s 50 per cent share of the stipend was definitely in effect. The change occurred, therefore, during the latter months of Rev. French’s incumbency.
As to why the rector’s stipend payment was changed?
Archdeacon Tanya Phibbs explains: “The stipend arrangement would have been negotiated among the three parishes according to the time the rector spent ministering to each one.”
This is the same today for multi-point parishes. Churches that need or want more of the rector’s time, agree to pay a larger share, while those requiring less of the rector’s time pay a smaller share. Reasons for wanting more time can vary. It could relate to the number of members in the various churches. But not necessarily.
In Byron’s case in 1944-45, it may simply have been that St. Anne’s parishioners enjoyed getting to know their rector as a friend. What better way to do that, than to have more of his/her time?
The first thing that Byron, Hyde Park and Lambeth probably agreed upon was to negotiate in private and not to keep minutes. No surprise this time - records of these negotiation meetings from Trinity and Hosannas are not located in the Diocesan Archives, either. So all three kept that agreement!
The Rector – A Profile
Rev. John Donaldson seems to have been a mild-mannered priest with the strength and patience of God within him. He arrived into St. Anne’s during a chaotic time – in the world (due to World War 2), in the community of Byron (due to a population explosion), and in the church itself (where parishioners were dealing with changing realities). Through it all, Donaldson was a steadying presence as he focused on his purpose…. “For Christ and His Church.” (Donaldson’s slogan)
He was compassionate as was shown in his kindness toward the sexton, William Handley. Handley’s pay had started at 40 cents an hour in 1942, and was increased by small increments thereafter. At the annual Vestry meeting, January, 1947, Donaldson proposed that St. Anne’s supply Handley with a telephone. But “due to a shortage of phone equipment, the matter was put over to next year.” Handley did receive a raise that day, however, of $3, per quarter, making his annual income $108.75. (from vestry minutes)
Whether Handley ever received a telephone was not recorded. He may have. Or not. Perhaps he preferred the extra pay anyway. And maybe the rector’s gesture moved church members to respond kindly.
Donaldson was also a man of integrity. Later in January, he asked the Board of Management to ask the school board for a bill for the coal being used on winter Sunday mornings. To him, it was enough that the school board provided space for a Sunday School class. His intention was not to cause the school board extra expense.
Again, the result of his gesture was not recorded.
A major piece of Donaldson’s profile was the wholehearted support, help and advice he gave to the entire congregation, as they worked through the upheaval of church reconstruction and raised all the money required for the project. Whenever the rector himself was unsure about something, he visited the bishop (Seager) for advice.
Given the rector’s attributes, the members of St. Anne’s were dismayed when he made an unexpected announcement on Nov. 17, 1947.
Speaking to Board of Management, Donaldson said the bishop had asked him to undertake missionary work at Muncey. Stressing he could not ignore this challenge, he cited two factors in favor of him accepting the new post. (1.) ”The living conditions might be happier, at least as far as his wife was concerned,” and (2.) “the nature of the work as the bishop expressed it was quite a challenge.” (from board minutes.)
Reaction was swift. “Bebe McEwan expressed the regret we all felt at the thought of Mr. Donaldson leaving us and said how tremendously we should all miss him.” And “Archie Kains expressed regret and indignation that the bishop had seen fit to suggest Mr. Donaldson’s removal from us.” (minutes)
Two ways of expressing the pain of loss.
The rector “promised to see the bishop again and said he had no idea the people of St. Anne’s might want him to stay on.”
John Donaldson’s last Sunday services in the three-point parish took place on Jan. 4, 1948, after two-and-a-half years of ministry here. He also resigned as AYPA and SS secretary of West Middlesex, a position he held throughout 1947.
After serving at Muncey, Chippewa and Oneida for two years, he transferred to the Diocese of Arizona, in 1950. But Donaldson didn’t forget the people of Byron.
Prior to this church’s 100th anniversary (1953) he sent greetings to all at St. Anne’s from Morenci, Arizona. (from Grace Bainard)
Following Rev. Donaldson’s departure, the three-point parish was pleased to receive the Rev. Sidney Semple as their interim priest. Semple was a pioneer in his field of work as an industrial chaplain. With the bishop’s blessing he served the workers of three major industries in London.
Using a pastoral ministry of listening, he sought to help, not convert, those who came to him for counsel. As a chaplain, he accepted all who asked for his services, regardless of church affiliation. (from London Free Press)
Semple put his regular work on hold to minister to Byron, Hyde Park and Lambeth for nearly eight months, until a permanent priest was confirmed. According to Grace Bainard, Rev. Sidney Semple “made many friends” at St. Anne’s.
Researched and written by Shirley Geigen Miller
Chapter IX - The Winds of Change
The Reverend Durnford’s official farewell marked not only the end of an era but also the beginning of significant changes for the parish life of St. Anne’s.
Changes blew in with the person of John William French, an energetic 30-year-old theology student from Huron College. On April 12, 1942 – just one week after Durnford’s farewell – French officiated at the 11 o’clock service. He signed in as “student-in-charge” in the parish Preachers Book. Following the service, this plucky young man presided over a Special Vestry Meeting.
It was a time when St. Anne’s, Byron, was still part of a three-point parish along with Trinity Church, Lambeth, and Church of the Hosannas, Hyde Park. The vestry meeting was called due to a request from the Lambeth church for a change in their Sunday service time.
The faithful folk of Trinity Church had worshipped at three o’clock in the afternoon for nearly 80 years. They sought a morning service.
St. Anne’s members, being content with their 11 a.m. service, sympathized with Trinity in a guarded sort of way. Vestry passed a motion made by W. P. (Percy) Simpson, seconded by M. A. Sabine, “that the wardens be empowered to change the time of morning service, if necessary, to meet the requirements of the members of Trinity Church, Lambeth.” (from vestry minutes)
Grace Hertel suggested that St. Anne’s send a message to the Lambeth congregation “expressing our willingness to co-operate with them in every way possible.” (minutes)
The following Sunday Trinity got its morning service – at 9:30 a.m. St. Anne’s cruised along with 11 a.m. worship for another eight months. Hosanna’s Sunday service stayed at 7:30 p.m.
French’s able and friendly debut at St. Anne’s was the start of a multi-faceted growth spurt in the parish.
Born in Woking, Surrey, England, in June, 1911, John W. French received early schooling at the Church of England School in Whitley. While still young, he moved with his family to Canada, settling in Windsor, Ontario. Later he attended O’Neil business college, there. In 1934, he married Ena Evelyn Millican. Another move took French and his wife to Chicago where he attended McKinley Roosevelt University, graduating with a B.A, in 1941. He promptly applied for admission to theology studies at Huron College, London, and entered the three-year program in September.
These were uncertain times. French would be pastoring much sooner than he might have expected.
A New Reality
Effects of the Second World War had reached most sectors of Canadian life by then. The church, for example, was experiencing a severe shortage of clergy. Much like a worldwide pandemic, worldwide war compelled all of society to adapt and change to a new reality.
According to Rev. Canon Dr. Doug Leighton, an associate professor of history at Huron University College, “Many clergy volunteered for overseas service [during the war]. Finding interim priests for them was difficult enough. The human resources of the diocese were stretched to the limit.”
In appointing John French, a first-year theology student, to the three-point parish, the bishop [Charles Seager] would have taken into account that French was “mature” (age 30) and “stable” (married), Leighton pointed out.
The plan was for French to continue his theology studies while working part time in the parish communities. This, in turn, would require parishioners to take on more responsibilities in the churches.
The congregations must have agreed to oblige. They certainly pitched in.
French was ordained deacon by Bishop Seager on May 31, 1942. The next day, the Rev. French and his wife, Ena, moved into the rectory at Hyde Park. Hence the “student-in-charge” became the “incumbent.” He was ordained to the priesthood on Sept.19,1943.
At St. Anne’s, French introduced changes and new appointments gradually and often step by step. One of his first appointments would have been that of a new Sunday School Superintendent. The position had been vacated by Rev. Durnford himself. French chose Kathleen (Kae) Hart for the job.
Kae was a lifelong member of St Anne’s who had been a Sunday School teacher for seven years. She enjoyed the children, particularly her class of mischievous boys. With her experience, dedication, enthusiasm and willingness to serve, Kae was the ideal choice. Indeed, the Sunday School flourished under her leadership.
In the early 1940s, Sunday School gathered at 10 a.m. before the morning church service. Since a separate parish hall had not yet been constructed, children and teachers met in the church and in the large West Wing parish room. This was also before church offices were installed in the area. There was enough space for several Sunday School classes in the parish room. Moveable room dividers were used to divide the children into age and gender groups for lessons and Bible Stories.
Sunday School enrolment in 1941 “was down to 18 pupils and two teachers,” Kae said. But growth soon picked up and spiked after the war ended, due in part to the baby boom.
“We always had an opening hymn,” Kae went on. Music was provided by the Sunday School organist playing on an old organ. Later, violins were added. Her Sunday School “staff,” as Kae called them, were all parishioners glad to come to church early to contribute to the Sunday School.
By 1953, St. Anne’s Sunday School had skyrocketed to 110 pupils, nine teachers and six other officers. Although this may be explained partly by the changing demographic, a great deal of credit must go the outstanding leadership of the Superintendent.
In her later years, when asked to describe what John French was like, Kae (Hart) Ellis replied: “He was redheaded, very nice, and a lot of fun.” With all the appointments that followed hers, the church was soon a-buzz with cheerful, albeit meaningful, activity.
First Board of Management
At the annual vestry meeting January 27, 1943, St. Anne’s formed a Board of Management for the first time. The rector named Frances Hart, Bebe McEwan and John Meriam to the board. Taking nominations from the floor, vestry elected Kate Chapman, Muriel Foyston and Archie Kains to be on the board as well. Board members would hold their positions for one year and would meet monthly starting in February.
Vestry also established a rectory committee of two, naming Grace Hertel and Anne Simpson to keep track of any needs or improvements required at the rectory. As for the wardens, French appointed W. P. Simpson to be rector’s warden and the long-serving people’s warden, Thomas Sulston, was reelected for another term. In March, the Board of Management decided to inaugurate the duplex envelope system for offerings. They ordered 20 boxes for the year and Frances Hart agreed to become envelope secretary.
When the rector first shifted St. Anne’s Sunday service time from 11 to 11:30 a.m., he did so for a limited period – from Jan 3 to May 2, 1943. He then reinstated 11 a.m. worship for the warmer months.
But the subject of changing back to 11:30 was raised again in July while W. P. Simpson was presiding over a Board of Management meeting.
Simpson asked the board “if we were willing to change [our] service time to 11:30 to meet needs of Lambeth who felt [their] church attendance had dropped since they had had to revert to 9:30 services.
“The general feeling [of St. Anne’s board] was … that we, without much inconvenience, could have our service at 11:30 in place of 11. Majority in favour.” (from Board of Management minutes, July 18, 1943.)
St. Anne’s once again received a short reprieve. The 11:30 a.m. service time did not come into effect until Oct. 3, 1943. From then on the later time (by 30 minutes) lasted to the end of French’s tenure, and beyond.
Meanwhile, the rectory committee had been hard at work, checking through the rectory and identifying what needed to be repaired or replaced. Cost of improvements would be about $1,000, the committee reported. This caught the attention of all three congregations.
On March 30, 1943, the wardens of St. Anne’s, Trinity and Hosannas held a special meeting regarding the condition of the rectory. They decided to have the rectory put in good condition immediately. Work would include installation of a water pressure system, a new cesspool, furnace (secondhand if available), insulation in the attic, screen doors and windows, hardwood floors and linoleum in the kitchen. These jobs were contracted out to ensure best possible results.
Money for the improvements was borrowed from the diocese. Payments on the loan were divided equally among the three churches.
“In October, 1943, a reception was held in the rectory at Hyde Park, and many came to call and admire the improvements. Ladies of the Guild assisted at the tea.” (from The Story of St. Anne’s by Grace Bainard)
Changes in church services themselves also occurred during French’s incumbency. From the time of his arrival at St. Anne’s until the time he was priested (Sept. 1943), French was not eligible to celebrate Holy Communion. To fill the need, other priests were called upon to offer Eucharist about once a month. Often Durnford, but there were others, who made it possible for the congregation to receive the sacrament on a regular basis.
It is not clear when an altar guild was initiated. However, it was noted in Board of Management minutes on May 10, 1943, that “The Altar Guild is now functioning and made the preparation for Easter Communion.” In 1943, Easter Day was April 25.
Added to Sunday worship were services of Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Burial. At a special service, W.P. Simpson was invested as a Lay Reader.
During 1944, wartime concerns escalated in the parish. On June 6, Byron United Church and St. Anne’s Anglican held a combined “Invasion Service” at 8 p.m. The two denominations marked the original D-Day together with praise and prayer. The service took place at the United Church with Rev. L.C. Harvey and Rev. John French officiating. Subsequently, French introduced St. Anne’s to weeknight services of intercessions for the armed forces.
Just prior to this time, French had ended his study of theology at Huron College. His academic records show that he attended the college until May 19, 1944. He did not receive a theology degree from Huron.
Nevertheless, French continued to pour his time and energy into serving the three-point-parish. Reports at St. Anne’s next annual vestry meeting (January 29, 1945) disclosed that average church attendance had increased to 53 per Sunday and finances were in good shape with $418.70 left in the balance at the end of 1944. The women’s guild reported $451 receipts from fundraising efforts, and $331 disbursements with a balance of $120 plus a $50 victory bond, going forward. Sunday School attendance, of course, had risen as well. Not to be forgotten, the cemetery had been given a complete survey during this incumbency.
In February, 1945, French was granted a temporary leave of absence to become a chaplain in the Canadian Army. He conducted his last services in the three-point parish on Feb. 18. At a special gathering in the parish room, St. Anne’s bid him a fond farewell and presented him with a stole. French went overseas, was stationed in England, then in Germany after the war.
Upon his return to the Diocese of Huron in 1946, he was appointed to St. John’s Church, Tillsonburg and St. Stephen’s Church Culloden. The following year he transferred to the Episcopal Church Diocese of Michigan, where he continued to serve as a priest and was named a Canon there.
French did reappear, some years later, for a special occasion at St. Anne’s. On Oct. 5, 1956, he travelled to Byron from the U.S. to assist in the wedding service of Kathleen Hart and Nelson Ellis.
A grand and happy finale to his memorable connection with St. Anne’s.
Help support the ministry of St. Anne's by making regular financial donations either through your bank account or credit card.
Remember that making donations to St. Anne's using pre-authorized debits is an easy way for you to support our ministries throughout the year. Arranging for regular withdrawals from your bank account is easy to set up or change. Attach a void cheque to this completed form and drop it off or mail it to the church.
One-time or monthly donations may also be made by credit card by filling in the form below. CanadaHelps will process your payment and issue an income tax receipt to you for the total amount donated by credit card.
From the Deacon’s Bench - June 2022
I recently read a blog from a website I frequent. It caught my eye as it was written by a priest and the title was “Let’s Put the Church Out of Business.” It contained quotes from a number of writers including the American theologian, Frederick Buechner who wrote, “I wonder if the best thing that could happen to many a church might not be to have its building burn down and to lose all its money. Then all that the people would have left would be God and each other.” There was also a quote from A.W. Tozer, an American pastor and well-known author in the earlier 20th century who spent his last years as pastor at Avenue Road Church in Toronto. He wrote, “The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run for years on its own momentum.”
I think we need to look at thoughts like that regularly and examine who we really are and what we are doing as a church and as a parish. Are we living the Gospel as outlined in Matthew 25? Are we living as set out in the Letter of James? Is that at the forefront of what we are doing at St. Anne’s or are we caught up more in the trappings of a building and how we use it? Is what we do on Sundays or during the week focused more on us as opposed to God and our neighbour? What about my focus? Is it on what I am doing for St. Anne’s and on my role in the parish, or is St. Anne’s the place where I go to connect with God through the others who are there?
I considered what I have experienced attending church in Cuba. Besides Holguin, I have had the opportunity to worship at other parishes in Cuba including a number of rural parishes and the Cathedral in Havana. Keeping in mind that it is a different culture, church as I have experienced it there is different. Church is no longer actively discouraged by the state, but it doesn’t enjoy the benefits provided our churches. Rural churches may be basic structures and in places like Holguin, church has to be held in a pre-existing building, which in their case is what was a home. Life is Spartan. The things in daily life about which we complain are not comparable to what they experience every day. When talking to my Cuban friends, there is little about which I can complain because our problems are very minor inconveniences compared to what they face. I also keep in mind that the average Cuban is relatively much better off than the average citizen in other Caribbean countries.
Because their lives have to focus on basics, I find that the way they live their faith is different. They are more open with each other about their everyday problems, and more supportive of each other. The church structure is more Spartan because they use some of their resources to meet the needs of each other. Without all the “stuff” that we have, they seem freer to focus on their relationship with God and each other. Their world is more like that talked about by Tozer and Buechner.
We can’t change our part of the world to a simpler world. But how do we find a way to repel the trappings of our world and the whirlpool draw of individualism and consumerism? How do we deal with “I want” as opposed to God and neighbour? How can I lead life so it is focussed on God and others? Lots of questions. Where are the answers? So as in the game of Jeopardy, Alex, can I have the meaning of life for $200?
St. Anne's is a lovely stone church built in 1853 by Robert Flint and our story is one that continues today. We hope this look into our past will give you an idea of the deep community roots on which the foundation of our church is built. If you have information to add to our story please use the Contact Us form to tell us your part of our ongoing story.
An Anniversary Prayer for St Anne’s Byron - 1853 to 2023
Serving God and Our Neighbours
Giver of life, and source of all blessings, on this anniversary year we give thanks to you for this place
where we have come to praise your name, to ask your forgiveness to know your healing power, to hear your word and to be nourished by the body and blood of your Son.
Sustain us, O Lord, with your Holy Spirit, give us always an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works, as you guide, illuminate and bless us into all that is next. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer.
Stone by Stone: A History of St. Anne's (Byron)
Chapter I - How the Church Began
Chapter II - Looking Back (currently under revision)
Chapter IIII - Construction of St. Anne's
Chapter IV - The Mystery Years
Chapter V - Rejuvenation
Chapter VI - The Next Thirty-three Years
Chapter VII - The Durnford Era - Part A
Chapter VIII - The Durnford Era - Part B
Chapter IX - The Winds of Change
Chapter X - Metamorphosis Continues - NEW
The Hunt Family - one of the area's early settlers
Life in Byron and St. Anne's - one parishioner's recollections
The history of our stained glass windows
A pioneer Christian had on his mind
A place to worship, and this he did find
Right here where we're standing: the Lord was willing,
Five acres were bought costing eight pounds & some shillings.
Many hands gathered stones with a mason, a Scot,
And proud were the families as they viewed what they bought.
Twenty years later, it looked pretty feeble,
Having been used by strange devout people.
Some of our grandsires began to rebuild,
With hard earned money from the fields that they tilled.
A family named Hall who owned a saw-mill,
Their names long remembered, helped the coffers to fill.
St. Anne's was now ready for its name & consecration,
Isaac Hellmuth, Huron's Bishop, came for the celebration.
Three short term rectors did duties at Glanworth,
Ten miles with a horse going back and forth.
Our long term rector - for thirty-one years,
was always on duty; vacations bored him to tears!
On a certain Good Friday, just after the service
The church roof blew off, making everyone nervous.
A few weeks later this practical guy (rector)
Was staining the ceiling from scaffold on high.
The grand climax to Mr. D's tenure,
Came in thirty-seven, in the month of September.
During the year, the things we acquired
New sanctuary and pews, so badly required.
Six beautiful windows and the new west wing,
Memorial furnishings, we lacked not a thing!
Downstairs in wartime, we made lots of jam,
A friend overseas found a jar labelled, "Byron, St. Anne's"
The following rector, John French by name,
Got a management board, soon after he came.
The Hyde Park Rectory got a good sprucing up,
Duplex envelopes and an organ that needn't be pumped!
Our first lay reader, Percy Simpson by name,
A wrought iron gate and a fence of the same.
Our gas furnace blew up, but our sexton survived,
Near the same time, the Joselyns arrived.
In 1950, a Rectory was planned --
Arnold Stoner was the builder, but others gave a hand.
Annual smorgasbords raised some money:
Also seed fairs and a play that was funny.
The greatest idea came along next,
"To feed the hungry" was our text.
Ken Smith was the one who led the way -
The Western Fair booth then came to stay.
Soon after that came our new parish hall
And "Every Member canvass" involved us all.
Our membership was growing fast,
On a Sunday, 164 average - would it last?
Railings at our chancel steps --
Rev. Reg & Helen, in memory we kept.
Bob Mills arrived, and we spent some cash -
Five acres, two houses - it did seem quite rash.
A few years back, we had added ten feet
To the church, to the north made our entrance look neat!
After we built the Heritage room,
We gleefully felt we were in a great boom.
Morley Pinkney had come with plans for improvements,
An office, new cupboards, up-to-date equipments.
Coffers kept filled by generous donors,
Made us feel like we'd hit some homers.
Now we're thinking of those who need assistance,
To use our parish hall, we trust there's no resistance.
As our special senior turns the sod,
With junior helpers and the Grace of God.
- Spring Plant Sale Spring Plant Sale
- Pollination Garden Dedication - September 2018 Pollination Garden Dedication - September 2018
- Victorian High Tea - May 2019 Victorian High Tea - May 2019
- Courage for Freedom event - July 2019 Courage for Freedom event - July 2019
- Greenhouse Greenhouse
- St. Anne's Nativity set 2021 St. Anne's Nativity set 2021
- St. Anne's Nativity set 2021 St. Anne's Nativity set 2021
- St. Anne's Nativity set 2021 St. Anne's Nativity set 2021
- Growing Food for Byron Cares 2022 Growing Food for Byron Cares 2022
- Growing Food for Byron Cares 2022 Growing Food for Byron Cares 2022
- Harvest Festival - OCtober 9, 2022 Harvest Festival - OCtober 9, 2022
- Heavenly Pies Heavenly Pies
- Orange Shirt Day - September 25, 2022 Orange Shirt Day - September 25, 2022
- Quilters group Quilters group
- Remembrance Day 2021 Remembrance Day 2021
- Remembrance Day 2021 Remembrance Day 2021
- Remembrance Day 2021 Remembrance Day 2021
- Remembrance Day 2021 Remembrance Day 2021
UPDATE: Please note that St. Anne's has changed our regular service time to 9:15 am. There will be an 8:00 am Book of Common Prayer service on the first Sunday of each month. An additional BCP service will take place on the second Wednesday of each month at 11am.
Masks will continue to be required while in motion and may be removed while in your pew until further notice. We have reintroduced the Cup at the Eucharist. As always, the decision to take the wine is entirely at your discretion.
FORTH @ 4pm: Every fourth Sunday at 4pm
A 30 minute informal time of worship. Through the vehicles of scripture and song, we will spend some moments with one another entering in the readings and their message to us.
Continue to pray for all those impacted by the virus and its ripple effect on work and home lives.
Please continue to keep in touch and pray for one another as we navigate these challenging and uncertain times together. Please do not hesitate to be in touch as needed.
Yours in Christ,
Canon Val and the Wardens of St Anne's
Please note that unless otherwise noted, sermons are preached by St. Anne's incumbent rector, Reverend Canon Valerie Kenyon. Visit our Sermon Archive for previous recordings of sermons and services.
Sunday November 27, 2022
In this Sunday’s readings, both Jesus and Paul have something to tell us about how we use our time and how alert we are to all that is happening around us. Paul wants us to wake from sleep and Jesus wants us to stay awake. Paul is challenging us, to take an open and honest look at our lives, at how we spend our minutes, our hours, which all become the days of our lives. This all seems rather fitting on this first Sunday of the new church year. Just how will we answer the challenge?
Sunday November 20, 2022
From the Cross, Jesus calls any who would call him “Lord” – to join God’s insistent, consistent, and persistent solidarity with the weak, the oppressed, and the forgotten of this world. In short, we are only faithful to our Lord as far as it stands with those who are most vulnerable. Whatever our understandable desire for strength and security, God calls us not only to identify with the weak and dispossessed, but to lift our voices on their behalf, calling leaders to care for them. An excellent reminder to us all as we stand in the doorway of another year.
London Deanery Church Services
- St Aidan's -https://www.youtube.com/user/staidanslondon
- Church of the Ascension -https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_tB27TSdlE3lerNvZwvMvQ
- Church of the Epiphany-http://www.thechurchofepiphany.com/
- St George's Anglican Church-https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaiWCblsLAdPSJwIEVxWrvg
- Parish of Holy Trinity St. Stephens Memorial-https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSCER04UXXpPIp3-2aUC9jA(search for HTSSM)
- Huron Chapel-https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6-UohPhTsE9KFmdJuamO2w
- St. James Westminster-http://justatinker.com/stjames/
- St. John's Arva -https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCB4vDq8b0PKJzihLUL_Il8g
- St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church-https://www.stjohnslondon.ca/
- Church of St. Jude-https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4qDLDPqNPPXEaM2un5yzEw
- St. Mark's Anglican Church- https://www.facebook.com/St-Marks-Anglican-Church-London-On-1227167570674767/
- St Martin's -https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUrNyiC6MnLOQuFddLB1GaQ(search for Willi Kammerer on youtube)
- St. Michael and All Angels-https://stmichaelandallangelslondon.ca/
- St. Paul's Cathedral -https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6-BMB6hH8GLlnWLvPMSk0g
- Reverend George B. Sage, 1881-84 Reverend George B. Sage, 1881-84
- Reverend Clarence Widmer Ball, B.A., 1885-88 Reverend Clarence Widmer Ball, B.A., 1885-88
- Reverend S.E.G. Edelstein (Glanworth, Lambeth, Byron), 1889-91 Reverend S.E.G. Edelstein (Glanworth, Lambeth, Byron), 1889-91
- Reverend Arthur Rhodes, October 1893-1903 Reverend Arthur Rhodes, October 1893-1903
- Reverend H.H. Tancock, 1904-10 Reverend H.H. Tancock, 1904-10
- Reverend V.M. Durnford (Hyde Park, Lambeth, Byron), 1911-42 Reverend V.M. Durnford (Hyde Park, Lambeth, Byron), 1911-42
- Reverend John W. French, June 1, 1942 - 45 Reverend John W. French, June 1, 1942 - 45
- Reverend John W.Donaldson, April, 1945-47 Reverend John W.Donaldson, April, 1945-47
- Reverend Reginald A Joselyn, Sept. 1948-62 Reverend Reginald A Joselyn, Sept. 1948-62
- Reverend John Hofland, June 15-September 16, 1962 (interim) Reverend John Hofland, June 15-September 16, 1962 (interim)
- Reverend Robert Mills, 1962-Spring 1969 Reverend Robert Mills, 1962-Spring 1969
- Reverend Morley Pinkney, 1969-86 Reverend Morley Pinkney, 1969-86
- Reverend Walter Mills, 1987-June 2001 Reverend Walter Mills, 1987-June 2001
- Reverend Peter Wickerson, 2001-05 Reverend Peter Wickerson, 2001-05
- Reverend Janet Lynall, 2006-15 Reverend Janet Lynall, 2006-15
- Reverend Rita Harrison, 2015-17 (interim) Reverend Rita Harrison, 2015-17 (interim)
- Reverend Canon Valerie Kenyon, 2017-present Reverend Canon Valerie Kenyon, 2017-present
Researched and written by Shirley Geigen Miller
The Durnford Era – Part B - Church Improvements
At the end of the roaring twenties, parish life was flourishing. Having accomplished so much in the previous decade, the congregation approached the 1930s with high expectations.
They began to think of making improvements to the church building, which now failed to accommodate their needs. Parish organizations dreamed of having an on-site parish room where they could hold meetings and events. So far they had been meeting in members’ homes or going elsewhere. Coincidently, Bishop Williams, in conversation with the rector, had suggested that St. Anne’s chancel be enlarged and upgraded.
Hence, in the early thirties, with only a vague idea of what the future shape of the church structure might be and with no idea how they would pay for an addition, members formed a building committee and established a building fund. This was a remarkable act of faith in the days of severe economic depression.
As early as 1932, the women’s guild quickened its efforts to raise money for the building fund. But it was a seesaw battle. While the building fund inched upward, the general church revenues fell.
At the vestry meeting on January 16, 1933, the report on general accounts showed a deficit of $67. This, after 10 straight years of successfully meeting expenses. Even a special appeal to the congregation failed to bring in enough money to cover the year’s costs. Parishioners were struggling to make their own ends meet. It was only thanks to the rector, that the budget was met. Without fanfare, Durnford supplied the funds needed to close the books.
A year later, when the church’s financial situation had improved, vestry decided “that the sum kindly donated last year by the incumbent to balance the books be returned to him.” (from vestry minutes, January 15, 1934)
At the same 1934 vestry meeting, Matilda Hart, representing the women’s guild, raised the subject of building a parish hall. Some St. Anne’s women, it seems, had visited the United (formerly Methodist) Church down the road, and were impressed with that church’s activity room. It was just what St. Anne’s needed, they felt.
(The United Church of Canada had been established in 1925, the result of an amalgamation of Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians.)
Vestry threw the ball back to the guild. Minutes of the meeting state: “After a lengthy discussion the matter was referred to the Guild to investigate as to the cost of such a building as the United Church Room.” (January 15, 1934)
And the guild ran with the ball. By the following January, Ms. Hart was able to present vestry with an architect’s letter, plans for a proposed parish hall, and an estimate (nearly $5,000) for labour and materials.
The plans, although favourably received, were not implemented at the time. The building fund had only reached $1,700 and the congregation was reluctant to put the church into debt.
Turning to more affordable goals, the guild continued to press for church improvements. A few months later, the organization offered to donate money “toward some satisfactory heating arrangements for the Church.” (from special vestry minutes, October 14, 1935)
Again, no immediate action took place (in fact, the meeting was adjourned due to poor vestry turnout). But at least the subject was placed on the agenda for the next annual vestry meeting and the women could anticipate progress in the near future.
While the struggle for funds was not over, a turning point in the financial standing of St. Anne’s was reached at the vestry meeting of January 27, 1936.
Firstly, the general accounts for the year showed a surplus of $124.60, which was good news in itself. Secondly – and more importantly – Lily Kains presented the rector with two cheques for $1,000 each from the estate of her late husband, Fred, who had died the year before. One cheque was designated for cemetery upkeep and the other was for church repairs.
The new bequest brought the building fund, including the guild’s fund, to $2,765.35. The prospect of a church addition was in sight.
A New Furnace
The congregation’s first priority was to modernize the heating system. During the summer (1936), the old box stove with its overhead stovepipe was removed from the building. Soon afterwards, a new gas furnace was installed beneath the floor near the front of the church. This was no simple task.
St. Anne’s had no more than a crawl space (no basement) under the floorboards. An excavation was required to make room for the furnace.
A large round hole, three or four feet in diameter, was cut in the floor. The hole extended partway into the area that is now the foot of the chancel steps. When the furnace installation was complete, the hole was covered with a metal grate to allow the heat to rise and fill the building. The grate was later to cause an inconvenience for some parishioners.
After the raised chancel was added to the church a year later, parishioners were required to walk over the heating grate on their way to the altar rail. This meant women wearing high heels had to do a sidestep to avoid getting a heel caught in the grate as they proceeded to Holy Communion. It also meant the sidesmen needed a steady hand with offertory plates. If they lost their grip and the plates were dropped, the coins could roll down the grating. That, by all accounts, never happened, though it was often speculated upon by roguish parishioners.
The inconvenience of the grate, however, was more than compensated for by the comfort of even heat in winter.
Decision to Expand
By the beginning of 1937, the congregation was poised for the plunge into expanding and upgrading the church building. The building fund had a substantial start, the rector championed the project and many parishioners were itching to proceed.
At the vestry meeting held January 19, Durnford presented his own rough sketch of possible church alterations. His design called for using the present church as the nave, adding about 12 feet to the front for a new sanctuary and building an adjoining parish room at the side. The parish room was to double as a Sunday school room.
The general response to the design was favourable.
Durnford also reported having discussed expansion options with Bishop Charles Seager who had succeeded Bishop Williams as Bishop of Huron. Bishop Seager, it was stated, objected to the current arrangement of the altar, “it being on a level with the Church floor whereas it should be raised above the general level of the surrounding Church floor.” (vestry minutes) Hence, a raised chancel became an accepted part of the plan.
Only a few stumbling blocks remained to full endorsement.
While the overall concept was approved, a concern was expressed as to whether the original structure was strong enough to withstand alterations. A committee was appointed to investigate and they later reported that the condition of the building was sound.
Some parishioners at vestry urged caution in proceeding with the project before enough money was in hand. At least one person felt the church should be kept the same, with no addition at all. But the sentiments of F.B. Hertel carried the day when he proclaimed that now was the time to begin “before prices commenced to rise again.” (vestry minutes)
Vestry unanimously agreed to ask Mr. Murray, architect, to draw up detailed plans for the project.
In March, the women’s guild made a last-minute request for a slightly larger parish room (22 feet by 25 feet inside, 24 by 27 outside). And they volunteered to raise an extra $400 to pay for the change.
After the building committee had accepted the guild’s proposal, the rector put forward a progressive suggestion. Durnford moved “that the building committee should include some of the ladies and those who have been instrumental in making provision for the Parish Room.” (from special vestry minutes, March 8, 1937)
As a result, the following five women were named to the building committee: guild president Grace Hertel, past-president Matilda Hart, Alice Ormond, Lily Kains and Mabel Wickerson. They joined the existing committee, made up of Durnford, Bert Foyston, Thomas Sulston, Alfred Kains, F.B. Hertel, W.P. Simpson, John Meriam, A.Y.P.A. president Philip Chapman, and Miss D. Grove.
From then on, this 14-member group navigated the expansion of the church building, moving through preliminary steps with lightning speed.
The architect finished his plans and submitted them to the bishop for approval. With that granted, tenders from contractors were called for. On April 12, five tenders were opened and read at a meeting of the congregation. J.B. Pittaway of London, who offered the lowest tender, was awarded the contract. Members of the building committee signed the agreement and in no time, construction was under way.
Full Steam Ahead
The next five months were action-packed for the congregation of St. Anne’s. The church site, of course, was bustling with construction work. Pittaway’s crew dug a basement for the new addition, removed the south (i.e. front) wall of the original church, extended the front of the church to accommodate a raised sanctuary, and built an attached parish room on the west side (now called the West Wing). The crowning touch was the stonework on the new exterior walls. Using mostly fieldstone, the workers created a look similar to the original cobblestone. Today, it takes a trained eye to see the difference in stonework between the original side walls (built in 1854, repaired in 1877) and the walls added more than 80 years later.
Off-site, parishioners had their own work to do. Some, like their predecessors in the 1850’s, went out to nearby fields, pushing wheelbarrows, and gathering stones for the walls of the addition. The women’s guild, meanwhile, was fundraising to meet its commitment, the collections committee was drumming up further cash donations, and the rector was conferring with members of the parish about donating suitable memorials. Durnford requested a set of pictorial stained glass windows with Christ as the central figure. Several parishioners answered the call and began the process of choosing the size and theme of their memorial gifts. Others opted to donate new pews or other church furnishings.
In June the congregation directed the wardens to sell the old wooden drive shed which still stood to the west of the church. Since most parishioners drove automobiles by then, a horse and buggy shelter was no longer needed. In fact, it was in the way, hindering access to the proposed parish room.
In due course, the wardens succeeded in selling the shed for $65. Its removal from church property marked the end of an era at St. Anne’s.
When alterations to the church building were completed on August 20, the project was into the home stretch.
On September 8, five memorial windows were delivered and installed by Robert McCausland Limited of Toronto. (For details on these windows, see page .) A reputable glass manufacturer, McCausland agreed to give St. Anne’s donors a reduced group rate on the windows. Final cost was $1,200 for the set of five. For the donors, this still represented a hefty sum. But in light of the inspiration the windows have provided to St. Anne’s worshippers ever since, the fee was a bargain indeed.
The historically significant Henry Hall window had been removed from the original south wall before the wall came down. The window was given a new home on the nave’s east side, where it remains today.
Just one task – the installation of furniture - remained.
On September 9, new oak pews and other furnishings (altar, rail, clerical chairs with kneeling stands, pulpit and lectern) were brought to the church and anchored in place. The furniture was made by The Valley City Seating Company of Dundas, Ontario, a firm known for quality materials and craftsmanship. (The company is now called The Valley City Manufacturing Company Limited.)
Except for the choir seating, all the furniture in the sanctuary, plus a number of pews in the nave, were paid for by individuals and families as gifts and memorials. These donations, like the windows, were above and beyond donations made to the building fund.
And so everything was ready for the official opening of the expanded and refurbished village church.
The congregation was justly proud of its accomplishment. With careful planning and clockwork execution, with an eye to preserving the building’s history and character, and with a desire to bring glory to God, members had persisted to the end. Adverse economic conditions had not stopped them from reaching their goal.
Much credit for the successful completion of the project must go to Durnford. Although he had already passed his 70th birthday and might have been excused from such a large undertaking, nonetheless he devoted countless hours and seemingly endless energy to overseeing the extension and improvement of St. Anne’s. Certainly, decisions and actions were handled democratically. But it was Durnford’s unwavering resolve that led the way.
His role in the beautification of the church received special mention in The Story of St. Anne’s. Grace Bainard wrote: “These beautiful windows and oak furnishings, though lovingly given in memory of friends of the parishioners, are in a way also a memorial to Mr. Durnford’s untiring efforts to beautify the Church.”
The renovated church was opened and consecrated on September 12, 1937. Archdeacon George B. Sage, a former rector of St. Anne’s, officiated at the 11 a.m. service, and Bishop Charles Seager at the 7 p.m. service. Edith Kains, organist and choir leader, provided a special musical program for the occasion. And the people rejoiced.
When the work was finished, all necessary expense had been provided for. This was mainly due, as Durnford said, to the “outstanding generosity” of parishioners. The final tally in the building fund was $6,271.80, accumulated from bequests, fundraising efforts and donations. A new generation of living stones had made their mark on the church.
Once the choir had seating in the new raised chancel, it seemed fitting that choir members be properly robed. The guild and some of the choir mothers, being a creative and industrious lot, took the matter in hand and began to make the vestments.
According to Marjorie (Foyston) Soper, who was in the choir at the time, the outfits consisted of “a white surplice over a long black smock topped by a mortarboard-type hat which was made from a man’s bowler hat, cut to shape and topped with a cardboard square covered with matching black fabric. It was completed by a lovely black tassel on one side. We felt very smart indeed…” (from Serendipity, memories of St. Anne’s seniors, 2003).
The choir was robed for the first time on Easter Day, 1938.
Prior to church expansion, the small parish choir sat in two short rows of seats at the front of the church on the east side. Nearby and next to the front wall, sat the pump organ, played, since 1933, by Edith Kains.
The enlarged chancel allowed for a much bigger choir, hence some of the young people were recruited to fill out the space, said Marjorie, “whether or not we could sing.” But the congregation was indulgent and with their “real” vestments, at least the choristers looked the part.
Financial strain due to the Great Depression continued to plague individual members and the church itself. In early 1939, Durnford’s generosity – to the point of self-sacrifice - kept the church afloat.
At the annual vestry meeting, January 17, 1939, a letter was read from Bishop Seager stating that the incumbent’s stipend had been below canonical minimum for years. The bishop urged the congregation to take some action on the matter.
Passing over the issue lightly, however, Durnford suggested it be kept in abeyance. He pointed out that St. Anne’s had consistently met its budget apportionment to the diocese and had covered all other expenses. These were his priorities.
Vestry (and indeed the incumbent) must have known that parishioners’ purse strings were already stretched to the limit. Those attending the meeting gratefully accepted the rector’s suggestion and took no action on the matter of raising his pay. Appreciation for Durnford’s efforts, however, were “duly expressed.”
Another World War
Some months later, parishioners were taken up with other concerns. In September, 1939, the outbreak of another world war tore their world apart.
Once again, young people in Byron, along with thousands across Canada, volunteered for active duty in the armed services. Many of them proceeded to Europe to try to stop the advance of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi forces. The deadly conflict was to rage on for six years. Eventually war would encompass most of the globe and would cost more than 60 million lives.
Members of St. Anne’s who enlisted for service in World War II were: Philip Chapman, George Cross, Marjorie Foyston, John French, Ernest Grove, Dennis Holland, Bruce Johnston, Barbara Kains, Nora Kains, Milton Keam, Grace Lamb, Harry Lamb, Jean Lamb, John Lamb, Thomas Lamb, Edward McFadyen, Charles Minzen, Walter Middleton, Lloyd Osborne, Harriet Sabine, William Shearme, Daniel Ward, Gordon Ward, Reid Waring, Albert Watson, Bartholomew Wells, Cecil Wells, Harold Wickerson, Oscar Wickerson, Richard Winnett.
The war dramatically altered parish preoccupations. Everyone had a friend or family member or at least knew some one who was serving overseas. This meant the war and the soldiers were constantly in the congregation’s thoughts and prayers. Which naturally led to action…
To help with the war effort, St. Anne’s was pleased to allow Byron Women’s Institute (W.I.) to use church kitchen facilities for its war-time jam-making project. The kitchen, at the time, was located in the basement of what is now called the West Wing. Toiling in the heat of summer, the women – many of them members of St. Anne’s – cooked great quantities of fruit on the church gas stove. The resulting jam was canned on site and shipped to Britain for the service men and women.
According to Anne Keam, the two people in charge of the jam-making were parishioners Dorothy McEwan and Muriel Foyston. The project was under the auspices of the Red Cross who imposed strict regulations on how the jam was made. The product, after all, had to survive a long journey and then a different climate, without spoiling. The following story shows they achieved their goal.
Anne’s husband, Milton Keam, was stationed in England during part of the war. Just before VE Day, while hospitalized outside London, England, Milton was served some Canadian jam. When he checked the tin, he found it was marked “Made by Byron Women’s Institute,” said Anne.
Milton must have been thrilled to receive a taste of home, thousands of miles away, especially since the jam was made at his own home church and by people he knew.
Besides jam-making, the W.I. undertook other war-time projects in the village. The group equipped the activity room at Byron United Church with sewing machines so that women could go there to make pyjamas and other items for overseas. A number of St. Anne’s parishioners took part in the sewing project as well. Then there were the special boxes, provided by the W.I., packed and shipped to Byronites serving in the war.
Clearly, the women who stayed home in the area, served their country well.
Early in 1940, Durnford tried to bring his ministerial duties to a close. At the age of 73, the long-serving priest who was pastor of three parishes (Byron, Lambeth and Hyde Park) and chaplain at the sanatorium, was running low on energy. At the vestry meeting, January 16, 1940, he announced he had handed in his resignation but the bishop had not accepted it. On the bishop’s request, Durnford would continue his work until arrangements could be made for another incumbent.
A full year later, with no sign of a new incumbent, Durnford told vestry he had “definitely decided to hand in his resignation this year, to take effect October 1, 1941.” (from vestry minutes, January 21, 1941)
Durnford was officially superannuated in 1941. But he remained as priest-in-charge, or as he called it, “supply rector,” for months to come.
At the vestry meeting of January 20, 1942, Durnford read a letter from Bishop Seager, explaining that “the delay in appointing a new rector was due to the inability of the three congregations to meet the $1,600 [annual] salary expected.`` The bishop found only $940 could be raised by the combined three parishes. (from vestry minutes)
Extra expenses were draining church resources. St. Anne’s budget apportionment, for example, had jumped considerably, and the gas bill had risen, due in part to the W.I.’s jam-making project in the kitchen.
Durnford suggested the wardens (Thomas Sulston and John Meriam) make a thorough canvass of the congregation to determine the amount the church could count on for the current year.
Guild president Anne Simpson immediately promised the wardens $150 from guild funds for 1942. Her husband, W.P. Simpson, thanked Durnford ``for carrying on for a number of years without full salary.``(from vestry minutes)
The Simpsons were highly regarded members of the church community. For several years, W.P. Simpson had been president of the Laymen`s Association for the deanery of West Middlesex. He had spoken in many churches of the diocese, inspiring lay people to redouble their work for the church. One can easily picture Simpson advocating for a positive response to the wardens` canvass at St. Anne`s.
With Durnford, now 75, presiding, the wardens reported the results of their canvass at a special vestry meeting on March 9, 1942. It was good news. They had raised enough in cash and pledges to meet minimum stipend requirements for a new incumbent and to cover church operating costs for a year.
The wardens apparently knew the incoming incumbent would be a theology student. Vestry minutes indicate the church would "offer to pay $5 per Sunday to the new minister until he is made deacon, then his salary would be $750 a year."
St. Anne`s share of Durnford`s salary had been $550 a year, at the time.
Shortly thereafter, in April 1942, Durnford retired from full-time ministry. But because the new incumbent was not qualified to do so, Durnford continued to administer Holy Communion periodically for another year at least.
St. Anne’s beloved rector for 31 years was honoured and celebrated at a special evening in the parish room he helped to bring into being. Gifts for Durnford and his daughter Mary Tuckey, though generous, could not possibly express the depth of gratitude felt by the congregation towards this man of God. His legacy of love lived on in the beautified church building and in parishioners` hearts.
Durnford died in London in December 1953. His funeral was held at St. George`s Anglican Church, London West, and he was buried next to his wife, Isabella, in Lakeview Cemetery, Sarnia.