Researched and written by Shirley Geigen Miller
Chapter V - Rejuvenation
Exciting news arrived for the congregation of St. Anne’s in the summer of 1877. A bequest from Dr. Henry Hall, who had died in Peru 14 years earlier, was finally available for the church. Deliverance from their financial plight had come.
Henry, of course, was a member of the Hall family who were responsible for the founding of St. Anne’s. Even after his death, Henry’s spirit seems to have continued to move on behalf of the church. Through his will, he provided funds for the renovation of the building and, as a result, sparked the rejuvenation of the congregation.
Not only would extensive repairs be done, but the church would also become properly fitted as an Anglican church with communion table, rail and so on. Prior to this the inside of the church resembled a meeting house.
In the congregation, leaders would emerge to usher the church into a new era. The church would be prepared for consecration by the bishop and Anglican clergy would be appointed to provide regular worship services. St. Anne’s would become the “English Church” it was intended to be, from the start.
Without a doubt Henry Hall’s bequest breathed new life into the church and its members.
A certified copy of Henry Hall’s will is preserved at the Diocese of Huron archives.
Written December 30, 1862, in Huanuco, Peru, the will was witnessed by Henry’s brother, Cyrenius, and another doctor. As he penned (or dictated) his last will and testament, young Henry, being a physician himself, would have known he did not have long to live. Despite his deteriorating condition from tuberculosis, he had the prudence to set down how he wanted his estate to be distributed.
He bequeathed to his stepmother, Margaret Hall of Hamilton, Canada West, the yearly income of $2,000. After her death the money was to be divided equally among his brothers Cyrenius and William, his sister Mary and her husband, James Stanton, a St. Thomas barrister. Additional bequests were left to the family.
Henry also remembered to forgive his brother’s debts to him. The will says: “To my aforesaid brother Cyrenius Hall I will and bequeath all my effects and instruments in Peru and whatever money is due me from him at the present time.”
Regarding the church, the magic words “ …and to St. Ann’s Episcopal Church at Westminster I give the sum of two hundred dollars.”
The gift was significant to the cash-strapped church. The statement also reveals an interesting fact. The church, as early as 1862, was known as “St. Ann’s.”
Sources disagree on the date of Henry’s death. It was either January 1 or July 1 in the year 1863. Yet the copy of the will now kept in the diocesan archives, was not certified by a registrar of the Surrogate Court of Middlesex County until July 3, 1877. The reason for the 14-year delay is not known. But the wait turned out to be profitable. The $200 for the church must have been invested in the meantime, because the amount received in the end was considerably more – approximately $430.
The bequest with accumulated income was placed, in trust, with the Synod of the Diocese of Huron and the parish was required to apply for funds as needed.
The situation called for organization, planning and resolution by the congregation. And parishioners quickly rose to the occasion.
Archibald Kains, a pioneer member of the church, played a major role in organizing church renovations. A committee was formed to oversee repairs and, for the first time in the church’s history, the names of two church wardens – Robert Sadler and F. H. Kenny – were on record.
Parish leaders lost no time in applying for funds.
On September 5, 1877, they were granted $200 from the Hall’s Mills Trust Fund towards “repairing and fitting up St. Ann’s Church.” The expenditure was to be supervised, once again, by the rural dean. (from Minutes of the Standing Committee of Synod) The Church Society, by then, had been amalgamated with Synod.
Work on the church building proceeded immediately and with gusto. Spurred on by the legacy of Henry Hall, a number of parishioners worked tirelessly at rebuilding the church. Local tradespeople were hired for specialized jobs; volunteers pitched in with hands-on assistance.
After three months, the church repair committee applied for another infusion of funds. A letter to the Standing Committee, written by Archie Kains, describes the work that was already finished and explains the need for further money. The letter, dated December 4, 1877, begins as follows:
“We the undersigned churchwardens and committee appointed to superintend the repairs needed in Byron Church beg to report that we have found the work more expensive than was anticipated. We found it necessary to secure the foundation and roof in order to make the building safe. The roof had to be properly secured and shingled and the floor had to be entirely new together with three dwarf walls to support the same, also a new chimney together with a partition across the rear end of the church to form a chancel and vestry. Also new window sash and glass and new front door, also plastering the ceiling and partitions as well as painting all the new work, amounting in all to $247.23 as far as we have gone.”
More plastering, glazing and painting were needed, the letter continues, “before the building will be ready for occupation …[It] will cost a further sum of at least $100 to complete the work.” The letter is signed by A. Kains, Robert Sadler and F. H. Kenny.
The application was heard the very next day and the Standing Committee of Synod granted another $150 from the Hall’s Mills Trust Fund towards repairing the church. (from standing committee minutes) About $80 remained in the fund after that. The final amount was turned over to the church in 1878.
Kains’ letter indicates the renovations were more extensive, as well as costlier, than expected. Still the congregation forged on.
Besides striving to make the building structurally sound, they were also endeavouring to outfit the church for dedication and consecration by the bishop. This meant providing a pulpit, reading desk, communion table, and “other things necessary for the decent performance of Divine Worship.” (from the deed of consecration)
Accounts and receipts for 1877 and early 1878 give a glimpse of what was entailed. Construction materials were purchased, of course – lumber, nails, paint, varnish, glass. And some individuals were paid for labour – P. Flint (masonry and plaster), S. Sutton (carpentry), Fulton (painting).
Colonel R. Lewis of Ontario Stained Glass Works in London received $25 for a memorial window. (This may have been the Henry Hall window, and if so, it was placed front and centre in the church, at the time. The window was moved to the east side wall during 1937 renovations, and remains in that location in 2019. It is the oldest memorial window in the church. See page for details.)
Another London firm, A. & J. G. McIntosh & Company, importers of staple and fancy dry goods, was paid $21.24 for crimson carpet, plush and damask. D. A. Denham, builder, received payment of $110 for items including pulpit, communion table and rail. Shingles, flooring and lath were purchased from James H. Belton Lumber Company for $97.66. A bill from T. & J. Thompson Hardware totalled $27.17. Others who were paid for materials or labour included J. B. Wells, McClary, W. Ayling and Sissons.
Pews are not specifically mentioned in the accounts. However, it is possible that the original pews were built and installed during these renovations.
The final tally for church repairs and “fitting up” was $447.03. The gift from Henry Hall, which amounted to $430, almost covered it. Because a church has to be debt-free before it can be consecrated, the remaining costs must have been met through other donations.
A New Rector
Into this buoyant, bustling and sometimes frenetic atmosphere of rebuilding, came a new rector, Rev. Louis De Lew. A former rabbi who held a Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Utrecht, De Lew was a lecturer, author and scholar. He was appointed to the Glanworth, Lambeth and Byron parishes in the latter part of 1877.
Since the members of St. Anne’s had the restoration well in hand, the new rector – an ardent Christian - would have been able to concentrate on giving spiritual guidance and direction. And he did lead the congregation through the consecration process itself, which members had looked forward to and worked towards for so long.
St. Anne’s was consecrated on January 27, 1878, by Bishop Isaac Hellmuth, who had succeeded Bishop Cronyn as Bishop of Huron in 1871.
At the appointed time and with the congregation waiting expectantly in the church, the bishop arrived at the door. There, the incumbent, church wardens and a few others, welcomed the bishop and petitioned him by “virtue of [his] ordinary and Episcopal authority to separate [the] Church from all profane and secular uses, and to dedicate [it] for sacred and Divine purposes, and to consecrate it as a Church for the worship of Almighty God.” (deed of consecration)
The bishop consented to proceed.
As the congregation said or sang Psalm 24, the wardens and rector, followed by Bishop Hellmuth, advanced through the nave to the chancel.
These words resounded in the church:
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors: and the King of glory shall come in.” (Psalm 24: 7)
The bishop performed the ancient rite of consecration, declaring that “from this time forth forever, the public prayers shall be regularly read in the Church …, the word of God therein faithfully expounded and preached; the Sacraments and other ordinances celebrated; the Solemnization of marriage duly performed; the office of the Dead performed over the faithful …; and all and singular other things done and performed, which by Divine right, or by the canons, constitutions, or laws of the United Church of England and Ireland ought to be done in relation to Divine Worship…” (deed of consecration)
Hellmuth dedicated the church to God by the name of “St. Ann,” and signed the deed of consecration, “I Huron,” in traditional purple ink.
Although Hellmuth officially named the church “St. Ann’s” at the consecration, he did so at the request of the congregation. The name, in fact, was already in use. Not only had the church been called St. Ann’s in Henry Hall’s will, but the name must have been used before that – possibly since the church was built. The spelling was later changed from the original St. Ann to the prayer book version of St. Anne.
Anne (Ann, Anna, Hannah) is the traditional name for the mother of the virgin Mary. While Anne is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, her name derives from an early (second century) apocryphal writing called the Protevangelium of James, which professes to give an account of Mary’s coming into the world. (from The Penguin Dictionary of Saints, 1995) The name Anne is the Hebrew “Hannah” which signifies “grace.”
Nothing is known with certainty about the life of Mary’s mother, yet St. Anne became popular, especially in Brittany and Canada. Her feast day, July 26, is listed in the Book of Common Prayer.
In Byron, however, the name St. Ann is thought to have been chosen because of Ann Terry Lee, a devoted and faithful member of the church in the early years. (see Living Stones in Chapter IV) Naming a church because of a known, favourite person, was a common practice at the time.
St. Anne’s was consecrated for the exclusive use by the Church of England. (This still holds true in 2019, unless the bishop gives permission otherwise.)
Fortunately, by the time of the consecration, other Byron denominations had found alternative sites for worship. Most of the Methodist community had been holding services in the schoolhouse for a few years, by then. Seven years later, the newly-united Methodists built their own church nearby, on the north side of Commissioners Road. It was opened in September, 1885. Parish lore says a number of St. Anne’s members switched allegiance to the Methodist church, at the time. As for the temperance men, their subsequent meeting place is not known.
The life of St. Anne’s moved on. Regular worship services as well as all the special rites of the Anglican church were faithfully observed. The exact year that a Sunday school was introduced is not on record. But classes for children would have been an early addition to the church agenda.
It is said that Franklin Kains (son of Archie) was Sunday school superintendent around the turn of the century and that he had served in that position for 25 years. This indicates that classes were offered for children from the time of the church’s consecration, if not before. Youngsters gathered in the church, prior to services, for religious education.
De Lew Departs
De Lew remained as rector through most of 1878. A London Free Press notice on November 25, 1878, announced that De Lew, “an Episcopalian minister, residing near this city” would give a lecture that evening at the Mechanics’ Hall. His subject – The Jew: His Past, Present and Future.
The report appearing in the following day’s newspaper, testifies to the missionary zeal that informed De Lew’s faith. In his address, he urged his listeners to put forth strong efforts “in the name of Jesus” to convert the Jews to Christianity. “Then indeed, will be fulfilled the Scriptures,” he said.
He also pointed out that the Church of England had 100 “baptized Jews” in its pulpits, including “our respected” Bishop Isaac Hellmuth. And, of course, De Lew himself. The
lecture was praised by the Free Press for its “powerful eloquence.”
Shortly after this event, De Lew’s incumbency in Westminster Township came to a close. Before the end of 1878 he was appointed to Onondaga and Middleport (east of Brantford). In 1880, he left the diocese for the United States.
Gradually, the congregation of St. Anne’s expanded its activities to include dramatic presentations (Shakespeare being a favourite), Christmas concerts and summer picnics. And according to Grace Bainard: “On evenings during the week young people would meet in the homes for a singing class where the tonic solpha was taught and close harmony practised.”