Detailed History of Grace
Feb. 24, 1959 — From a meeting of the Barrie and District Church Extension Council attended by Rev. Ball (Dalston): Moved that we obtain a sixty day option on property as described, with a payment of $25.00 to bind the option. Full cost of the property is $3,000. A survey map indicates that this property is 297 feet on the Willowdale Avenue frontage and 293.331/3 feet on the unopened portion of Cook Street.
April 1, 1959 — The student minister of Shanty Bay, Douglas Tomlinson, was asked by the Barrie &District Church Extension Council to conduct a survey to see if there is sufficient interest to consider forming a new United Church congregation in the north east section of Barrie.
April 21, 1959 — Letter written to Mr. George Longstaffe, the Business Administrator of the Barrie Public School Board asking permission to use the facilities at Steel Street School for a Sunday School program.
May 22, 1959 — Letter from Mr. George Longstaffe advising Mr. Mitchell that the auditorium would be available at a rental rate of $5.00 per Sunday plus a fee ($5.00) to be paid directly to the caretaker.
Aug. 25, 1959— Preliminary report received from Mr. Douglas Tomlinson, student minister at Shanty Bay concerning his survey in the north east portion of Barrie indicated strong support for a Sunday School.
Sept. 16, 1959 — Completed survey report presented by Doug Tomlinson -685 households had been contacted from which he identified 229 United Church families with 140 Sunday School aged children - 69 families indicated a definite interest in a Sunday School and Church in the area - moved by Rev. Wanless, seconded by R. Hickling, “that we open a Sunday School at Steele Street School.”
Fall, 1959 — Sunday School started at Steel Street School with Mr. J Barry Bartman, a Single Lay Supply Minister in charge.
Nov. 4, 1959 — Letter from Board of Home Missions acknowledging receipt of the registered title to the new church site in the Township of Vespra (now in the city of Barrie) - title to be held for safe keeping until such time as it is requested.
Nov. 5, 1959 — Mr. Barry Bartman gave a report to date stating he had some 35 children in attendance the first Sunday - motion that in future the Sunday School to be known as the Willowdale United Church Sunday School .
May 26,1960 — Report to B & D Church Extension Council - request by Mr. J. Barry Bartman to hold a church service on Sunday, June 26, 1960 at 9:30 a.m.
Nov., 1960 — Mrs. Ball lead a delegation that reported to the Extension Council that Sunday School attendance averaged 50 to 55 per Sunday - Mr. Ron Atkinson is now the student minister at Shanty Bay and Willowdale and is planning a Christmas Concert for Sunday, December 18 - It was decided to hold another church service on December 18 at 11:00 a.m.
Dec. 18, 1960 — Church service held followed by a meeting with representatives of the Extension Council who recommended that regular church services be started as soon as possible.
Jan. 4, 1961 — First regular Sunday morning worship conducted by Mr. R. Atkinson, student minister at Shanty Bay United Church -an ad was placed in the Barrie Examiner to announce the commencement of regular church services at Willowdale United Church at a cost of $3.92. The same announcement would be made on CKBB but it would be free.
Jan. 8, 1961 — A meeting of the committee was held at the home of Mrs. Blanche Ford. - Dr. Perkins of Central United Church was invited to sit in on the meeting First Church Steering Committee formed: Chairman: Ernie Harris Vice-chairman: Elmer Wilkins Treasurer: June Ball Secretary: Jean McEachern Members: Jean Walker, Blanche Ford, Albert Hadley, Ron Chantler.
Mar. 22, 1961 — The Clerk of Session was authorized to purchase a guest book at the cost of $7.50.
Dec. 3, 1961 — Willowdale United Church Congregation was duly constituted with a Charter Roll membership of some 90 persons from 58 families. Elders: Dr. Alvin Perkins, Bill Vis, Bob Watson, Marian Muir, Susan McLean.
Jan. 23, 1962 — Inaugural meeting of the Official Board - Proposed Budget for 1962: Total of $4,584 plus Building Fund of $5,250.
Jan. 30, 1962 — From the annual report of the Barrie and District Church Extension Council: Motion of recommendation that Willowdale and Shanty Bay be constituted as a pastoral charge.
Feb. 4, 1962 — Allen Tomlinson inaugurated the Willowdale United Church Women’s Organization and installed the first executive in the auditorium of Steel Street School.
May 24, 1962 — Official Board passed a motion to commence a New Building Study - suggested price: $27,000.
May 31, 1962 — Letter written to Rev. Brenn, chair of the extension committee by Dr. Perkins - reporting average Sunday School attendance of 110 pupils - referred to an available grant from the Home Mission board of $7,500 and the possibility of a loan up to $15,000 at an interest rate of 4 ½ percent for three years .
June 3, 1962 — Congregational Meeting was held to discuss a building proposal.
Nov. 3, 1962 — Allen Tomlinson, “our student minister” -services at 9:00am at Shanty Bay and 10:00 to 11:00 am at Willowdale 1962 – reported the transfer of Mr. & Mrs. Wilbur Oakes from St. Andrews U. C. in St Catharines.
Jan. 23, 1963 — Extension Committee asked Willowdale Church to put their building plans on hold and advised them to seek financial assistance from Presbytery for the purpose of employing a retired or ordained minister -financial statement indicated a bank balance of $292.66 with $.70 being owed to Rev. Reeve for a phone call which in fact would leave an actual balance of $291.96.
April 2, 1963 — Letter written to the United Church Observer asking them to place the following ad. Willowdale-Zion United Churches(Barrie and Shanty Bay) require retired minister, full time. Salary and car allowance $3,300. Attractive urban- rural two-point charge. Contact Dr. Perkins.
May 1, 1963 — Letter written to Rev. A. E. Baker by Elmer Wilkins asking him to be our minister - service times have changed to 9:30 at Shanty Bay and 11:00 at Willowdale - Allen Tomlinson preached his last service on the previous Sunday - Mr. Barry Dunbar will conduct services for May and June.
May 12, 1963 — Barry Dunbar preached his first service.
Sept. 1, 1963 — Rev. Baker preached his first service as a full-time minister at Willowdale and Shanty Bay Churches.
Fall of 1963 — Moved temporarily to Johnson Street School while work was being done at Steel Street School - because the Presbyterians were using also using Johnston Street School for their services at 9:30, no Grace members or cars were to be at Johnson Street before 10:50 a.m.
Dec. 3, 1963 — Name of congregation changes to Grace United Church with the renaming of Willowdale Avenue to Grove Street.
Feb. 25, 1964 — Planning for the Sod Turning Ceremony for the new Christian Education Centre - price now estimated at $70,000.
Mar. 22, 1964 — Sod Turning Ceremony for the Christian Education Centre.
April 25, 1964 — Last meeting attended by Rev. A. E. Baker.
May 2, 1964 — Rev. Baker died July 21, 1964 – Arnold Creaser, Lay Minister, formerly of Wyebridge Charge, now our minister.
Oct. 18, 1964 — Dedication of Christian Education Centre.
Dec. 6, 1964 — 4th Anniversary Service was held with the Rev. Ronald Atkinson of Pinewood United Church, North Bay as the guest preacher.
July 1, 1966 — Rev. Albert J. Cook becomes the first full-time ordained minister at Shanty Bay and Grace United Churches.
Sep. 17,1967 — New manse purchased at 13 Bellevue Crescent at a cost of $23,860 with a mortgage of $18,360.
July 1, 1969 — Rev. Arthur J. Storey welcomed to Grace United Church as our minister - Grace now a one point charge with the closure of Shanty Bay United Church - Grace still supported by Home Mission Grants of $3,400 1971 – end of Home Mission Grants 1972 – speculation about possibility of further construction including a sanctuary - Planning and Development Committee established.
January, 1973 — Barrie United Clergy agree to support the concept of expansion - Resolution of Official Board to “Build a new sanctuary addition at the earliest possible time.”
Feb. 1974 — Mortgage now $13,500 of original $73,000 ten years ago - objective set to burn mortgage by the end of the year.
Oct. 26, 1975 — Mortgage burned - Mrs. Baker present. Also in 1975 – church building attached to city water system - Statement of Purpose approved.
Feb. 1977 — Up to $1,500 authorized to be spent by Building Study Committee.
Feb. 1978 — Final planning decision and presentation of Building Proposal at $200,000 - after uncertainty by Presbytery, revised to include only Sanctuary at $140,000 - much work by our own people planned -proposal accepted.
April 22, 1979 — Ground Breaking Service at 1:30 pm.
Oct. 28, 1979 — Anniversary Service and Laying of Cornerstone -preaching and officiating, Rev. Sam Obol of Trinity Anglican (since returned to Uganda), assisted by Rev. Norman Thomas of Barrie.
Dec. 16, 1979 — Dedication of the Sanctuary with President of Toronto Conference Rev. Bill Fritz of Collier Street United and Rev. Paul Morrow of Burton Avenue United, Chairman of Presbytery, presiding.
May 27, 1980 — Susan Shelstad-Pearson ordained as a minister of the United Church of Canada.
October 18, 1984 — Anniversary Services * 25 years of Congregational Activity * 20 years for the first building (Christian Education Centre) * 5 years of completion and dedication of our Sanctuary * 15 years of Ministry by Art and Janet Storey * Burning of the Mortgage for the Sanctuary.
November 9, 1986 — Congregational Meeting to receive and review a proposal for construction of additional facilities - approval given to begin a $175,000 addition which would close in areas for church offices, washrooms, nursery, Chapel/Choir Room, kitchen, foyer and Board Room.
April 10-12, 1987 — Art Sale of paintings by George Pearson with proceeds for the Building Fund.
April 12, 1987 — Sod Turning Ceremony for the expansion of our facilities.
September, 1987 — Gracemobile profits: $ 25,46.93. $20,000 designated to the Building Fund.
January 31, 1988 — Dedication of the Chapel/Choir Room, Nursery, Church Offices and Washrooms - Special Guest, Mrs. Audrey Emms, Chairperson of Presbytery May 28,1988 – Norman A. Baines ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada.
May 29, 1988 — Susan K. Binns commissioned into the United Church of Canada January 1, 1989 – Eunice Chick became officially employed as our Church Secretary.
October 29, 1989 — Anniversary Celebration of 30 years of Congregational Activity.
June 13, 1991 — John and Linda Kirk ordained into the Free Methodist Church in Canada.
June, 1992 — Completion of the new kitchen.
October 25, 1992 — Presentation made to Mr. David C. Scott to honour his ten years as Minister Emeritus.
September, 1993 — Completion of Sunday School rooms on the lower level.
May 25, 1995— James K. Farrell ordained as a minister in the United Church of Canada.
October 29, 1995 — Dedication of the Oak Room.
October 26, 1997 — Burning of the Mortgage for the last phrase of expansion.
October 25, 1998 — Certificates of Appreciation were presented to 12 Charter Members and 26 Heritage Members (those who joined Grace Church during the first ten years) who are still active in church life.
June 27, 1999 — Celebration of 30 years of Ministry by Art and Janet Storey.
October 31, 1999 — Fourtieth Anniversary of Congregational Activity celebrated with the dedication of a photographic tribute to clergy who have served at or been ordained from Grace United Church . Guest preacher was Reverend David Allan, Executive Secretary of Toronto Conference. A special guest was Reverend Allen Tomlinson, the student minister who conducted services in 1961 to 1962 at Steel Street School.
May, 2000 — Construction of the Memorial Garden at the front of the church.
June 11, 2000 — Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada.
September, 2001— Carol Butt began her work at Grace Church as Director of Youth Ministry.
June 9, 2002 — Maureen McLeod ordained as a United Church Minister June 30, 2002 – Retirement of Eunice Chick, our Church Secretary after 35 years of voluntary and paid service.
August, 2002 — Liana Ferris commences duties as Church Secretary.
September 8, 2002 — Dedication of the new Memorial Sign.
June, 2003 — Grace welcomes and recognizes Rev. Bea Arnill as a “Resident Volunteer Retired Minister.
October, 2003 —Joyce Cavill is thanked for her 35 years of music ministry as Organist and Pianist at Grace Church.
December, 2003 — Terry Maynard is hired as the new Director of Youth ministry to replace Carol Butt who has moved with her family to Guelph.
January, 2004 — Rev. David Black becomes a Resident Volunteer Retired Minister at Grace.
August, 2004 — Grace offers its first Vacation Bible School program to the community.
December, 2004 — Celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Sanctuary December 16, 1979 — with Special Guest, Rev. Dr. Don Jay.
June 12, 2005 — Celebration of the 80th birthday of the United Church of Canada and of long-time Grace member, Edith Oakes who was born the day the United Church was inaugurated. - Dedication of the first stained glass window in memory of Richard Kent Miller, donated by his mother Ena Miller.
October 30, 2005 — Rev. Dr. Susan Pearson Shelstad, the first candidate for ministry from Grace Church was the guest speaker for the 45th Anniversary Service. - The first Memorial Hymn Sing was held at Grace.
January 30, 2006 — At the Annual Congregational Meeting, a policy was approved for the provision of same gender marriages at Grace United Church. The congregation approved the Joint Needs Assessment Committee report recommending a three year interim ministry after Rev. Art Storey’s retirement on June 30th.
June 25, 2006 — Rev. Art Storey conducted his last official worship service which was followed by presentations, tributes, a luncheon and an Open House, celebrating his retirement and honouring his 37 years of ministry at Grace.
September 10, 2006 — Rev. Bonnie E. Kelly was welcomed to Grace Church as she conducted her first worship service as interim minister.
July 1, 2010 — Rev. Susan Eagle was welcomed to Grace Church after accepting a call as our minister.
September 19, 2010 — Rev. Susan Eagle was inducted as minister by Living Waters Presbytery during a covenanting service at Grace.
May 20, 2011 — Grace’s minister became Rev. Dr. Susan Eagle when Victoria University, an affiliate of the University of Toronto, an affiliate of the University of Toronto, awarded her with an honorary doctor of divinity for more than 25 years of service to vulnerable persons.
April, 2013 — Grace became a green energy site with a $40,000 investment in solar panels installed on the church’s roof. The church collects energy from the sun and feeds it into Ontario’s electricity system. The church expects to recoup its investment in 10 years from regular payments received for the solar energy.
July, 2013 — Grace hosted two summer programs for children, its own annual Vacation Bible Camp and the High CCC Music Camp, organized and directed by Sandra Ruttan. In the fall, Sandra received Grace board approval to run a free weekly after school Rhythm & Pitch music program for children at the church as well as an annual summer music camp.
January, 2014 — The Rhythm & Pitch music program started up on Wednesday afternoons with a dozen children attending.
April, 2014 — Hardwood flooring replaced carpets on the worship platform of the sanctuary in preparation for Grace becoming a venue for the Barrie Concert Association. The renovation cost $18,000 and was funded from donations. As part of the agreement, BCA chairman Bruce Owen moved a world class concert piano to Grace, a Kawai Shigeru. The first association concert was held in the sanctuary in May.
January, 2015 — At the annual membership meeting in January, the Grace congregation voted unanimously by secret ballot vote to become an affirming ministry of the United Church. The vote was a “powerful statement” of long-standing inclusive practices at the church, said Rev. Dr. Susan Eagle, Grace’s minister. Treasurer Larry Murphy informed the congregation that Grace started the year with a small surplus thanks to a surge of donations late in 2014. Financial reports also showed Grace had recouped more than $11,000 of its $40,000 solar panel investment in two years from green energy payments.
May 8, 2015 — An Ontario Trillium Foundation grant of $38,000 for Rhythm & Pitch, the after school music program for children based at Grace, was officially announced at a benefit concert performed by piano virtuoso Oleg Samokhin, whose program celebrated Tchaikovsky’s 175th birthday.
May 31, 2015 — Art Storey, Grace’s minister for 37 years before his retirement in 2006, preached a guest sermon and was recognized as “Minister Emeritus” of the church. Rev. David Black joined Rev. Thelma Arnott as a voluntary associate minister of the church. Thelma’s four years of voluntary service was recognized as David was introduced as an associate, recently retired from Ebenezer United Church.
May 31, 2015 — Chaverim performed its last concert at Grace before officially disbanding. The youth choir and band, originally based at Vasey United Church, rehearsed for many years at Grace. Over the years, about 190 teens and youths performed contemporary praise music with Chaverim at churches across Ontario. A strong representation of alumni members participated in the farewell performance for family, friends and supporters.
October 30, 2016 — Grace celebrated its 55th anniversary with a service conducted by Minister Emeritus Art Storey and Voluntary Associate Ministers Thelma Arnott, George Moore and David Black, all retired ministers associated with Grace.