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A brief history of Christ First

We’re glad you’ve found your way here! 

We too are finding our way, having formed a brand new community of faith – Christ First, in 2019.  Two United Churches with deep roots in Port Credit (First United) and Clarkson (Christ Church) decided in late 2018 to come together to explore where God is leading us in our community.  As part of the United Church of Canada, we welcome people from all backgrounds and orientations—wherever you are in your faith journey.   We’d love to get to know you and hope you might journey along with us as we seek new ways of being church together.

History of Christ Church

The original Christ Church United Church is situated in a quiet residential area surrounded by old-growth trees and ravine forest in the community of Clarkson, in southwest Mississauga, Ontario.

Christ Church is unique in being the only church to serve the Clarkson community for over 190 years. That our church is still a vibrant presence in the community is a testament to the generosity, commitment and strong faith of our pioneer forerunners as well as those who, over the ensuing years, have worked to keep it a place in which to celebrate, worship and mourn. The community has come to rely on the building for meetings and other community events.

We began in 1826 when the Merigold family granted a lease for a plot on their property for a school and meeting house on what is now Southdown Road. Regular church services were held there until 1859, when a church building was erected on the west side of Clarkson Road, on property also originally owned by Thomas Merigold. This church was not strictly denominational, as it was the only church within five kilometres, a good hour’s travel by horse. This church quickly became the focus for community life in Clarkson.

In 1875, a growing congregation required a new building. It was erected on land donated by Margaret Merigold, which is now the southeast corner of Clarkson Road and Lakeshore Road. Dedicated on November 7, 1875, it was called Carman Methodist Episcopal Church in honour of Bishop Albert Carman, a friend of Margaret Merigold. From 1918 to 1922, it was known as Clarkson Community Church and then reverted back to Carman Methodist Church. The United Church of Canada was formed in 1925 with the union of the Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian churches. Carman Church then became Clarkson United Church.

In the 1950s, a growing population in Clarkson necessitated yet another, larger, church. A site was chosen on Mazo Crescent.

The last service in the old Carman Church was held on January 29, 1956. The building was sold to St. Christopher’s Roman Catholic parish, but only remained a church for a short time thereafter. Since 1964, the building has been used for commercial and retail purposes. However, traces of the church it once was can still be seen in the remaining gothic windows.

The ground breaking for the new church was held on May 1, 1955 with Mr. Stanley G. Harmer, Clerk of Session, turning the first sod and many of the congregation following with their own spades! The new building was dedicated as Christ Church, the United Church of Canada on February 1, 1956, by the first moderator of the United Church the Rt. Rev. G. C. Pidgeon. On August 2, 1956, a plaque was unveiled in the Margaret Merigold Room, honouring the pioneer who gave our church its start. An additional wing for Christian education was dedicated a decade later in 1966.

In October 2000, in conjunction with a sanctuary renovation, the story of the bible came to vivid life through stained glass; a massive project to illustrate many beloved Bible stories across 11 windows in the sanctuary. These windows offer a spiritual focal point for the congregation and are often used to enhance worship.

Full details about our windows can be found here…..
The Bible in Stained Glass!

 Sources: Clarkson and its Many Corners, Kathleen Hicks, 2002, Mississauga Library System.
Our Heritage, Stanley A. Holling, 1975.

 
 

History of First United

In the early 1800s, the Mississauga Ojibwa tribe inhabited the area along the banks of the Credit River.  Peter Jones, their chief, became a Methodist minister in 1823.  In addition to being a circuit rider preacher, Jones was an eloquent advocate for native land rights, in Canada and Britain.   Peter Street in Port Credit honours Peter Jones.

Egerton Ryerson, a Methodist missionary, joined Jones in 1825.  Ryerson set about raising funds from his contacts, and in 1826 erected a log mission house to serve as a church and school for the First Nations people. Port Credit had its first Methodist Church, on the site of the present Mississaugua Golf Club.

By 1838, an influx of British immigrants and Loyalists from the USA had settled in the area and a new church was needed.  The property at 151 Lakeshore Road West was deeded to the church, and by May 1849 a building was in place, with seating for 200.

Fifty years later, that building was moved intact, one block south to Port Street, and still exists, enfolded in the walls of the Mississauga Masonic Temple.

A new stone and brick church opened on the 151 Lakeshore Rd. West site in 1894, accommodating 350 people.  In 1913 modern electric lights were installed!  Church member Mrs. A. R. Clarke donated funds for the 1922 construction of adjacent Clarke Hall, to memorialize her husband who died in the sinking of the Lusitania.  The congregation raised $3,000 toward that building, and for years it housed the Sunday School and was used for church and community functions.  During the Depression years, the hall’s ownership was transferred to the Village of Port Credit.

Port Credit Methodist Church became First United Church on its centenary anniversary, in 1925.  On June 10, 1925, four denominations – Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and local Union churches, came together to form the United Church of Canada.  In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren joined the union.  Traditions of each remain today. 

In 1951, the large Sanctuary building was added, according to plans used by many United Churches of that time.  The inspiring chancel window at the front of the sanctuary, designed by the renowned artist Peter Haworth, was installed in 1957.  Opposite it, a window featuring The Great Commission of Jesus reminds those exiting to go into the world spreading the good news.  Many other stained glass windows, installed over ensuing decades, are found in the sanctuary and other parts of the building, most created by Luxfor and Robert McCausland Studios in Toronto.  All windows are dedicated in commemoration of members of the church and community.  In 2007 a history was compiled to highlight the lives of those who have been so recognized as well as to explain the abundant symbolism in the windows.  A children’s colouring book was also created to teach the stories seen in our windows.

The congregation continued to grow in numbers during the post war baby boom years, and the adjacent Clarke Hall was used for the Sunday School programme until 1961, when the Christian Education Wing was added to the south side of the sanctuary building.

Over the next forty years, changes in the Port Credit community and the wider world exerted their influence at First United.  In 2002, the congregation was faced with a smaller membership and a large, aging building that no longer met fire code regulations.  An in-depth review and extensive dialogue and exploration of possibilities ensued.  The original Chapel and Christian Education building were severed and sold to two excellent new neighbours: The Freedom Centre (who subsequently sold to West Edge Church) and The Prince Edward Montessori School.   A major renovation of the main Sanctuary building was undertaken, turning it into a beautiful multi-purpose space.

For two years, the congregation of First United worshipped elsewhere, but stayed strongly committed to maintaining our connections to each other and being a presence in our community.  We joyfully returned to our building in 2006, and welcomed all to visit our wonderful new space.  The church building once again became a vibrant, busy community hub, providing important gathering, activity and concert space in the Port Credit community as well as being a spiritual home for the people of First United.

If you’d like to do more reading…
Mississauga — Where the River Speaks; Alan Skeoch; Mississauga Library System, 2000
The Chapel’s 100 Years — 1894–1994; Chapel 100th Anniversary Committee; First United Church, 1994
Sacred Feathers: Reverend Peter Jones (Kahkewaquonaby) and the Mississauga Indians; Donald B. Smith; University of Toronto Press, 1988