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Franklin United Church holds final service

Members of Franklin United gathered on June 30 for the final service in their church. The pews were packed for the beautiful, often touching, but bittersweet service, which included many wonderful memories.

Crystal Livingstone-Rember, who grew up in the church and later taught Sunday school and sang in the choir, spoke about its history and gave an emotional description of her experiences and involvement with the building and congregation.

The church got its start as the Franklin Methodist church and was served by preachers on the Russelltown circuit. In 1856, the Franklin church joined with the Rennie’s church, as well as the church on the Gore Road and the Zion Church on Covey Hill to create a new circuit, with four services taking place each Sunday, starting in Franklin. The first Franklin church building was consecrated in 1958, while the current building was built in 1876, with several renovations added over the years to add space for an office and Sunday school. The members became a United Church congregation in 1925.

 

The congregation represented by Mary Stevenson presented Rev Barbara Bryce with a painting of the Franklin United Church to commemorate her time there PHOTO Heather Harper

 

In 1970, after being served by several McGill students, Franklin United joined with St. Paul’s United in Ormstown to create the Ormstown-Franklin Pastoral Charge. Most recently, the church has participated in a shared ministry with Howick United as well as St. Paul’s.

Bill Stevenson, who also grew up attending services at the church, offered a selection of his memories as well, including his recollection of installing double windows on the church with his father, Floyd, as the death of John F. Kennedy was announced over the airwaves on November 22, 1963. Stevenson served as the secretary-treasurer for the church for 55 years.

Stevenson’s daughter, Tamara, spoke about the contributions of several women to the church over the last 50 years, recalling different youth groups and trips organized for young people.

The Franklin Ensemble had its beginnings in the choir loft, and former organist Carol Bye spoke warmly about the group and its time playing at dances, Christmas parties, Havelock Fair, and church parties and community events.

Kent Sutton then gave a moving performance of The Old Country Church, during which he often slipped in the name “Franklin.”

 

The Franklin United Church was built in 1876 The closing service for the church took place on June 30 PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

“It was a really good celebration,” says Rev. Barbara Bryce, who admits the closing of the church represents a difficult but very faithful decision. Talk of closing started last fall, but Bryce suggests many within the congregation knew it was coming. Numbers had dwindled, and the active members were concerned about putting off such an important discussion. A preliminary vote took place in November, and a final decision was voted on at the congregational meeting in March.

Bryce says there are still some decisions to be made about whether the church will disband or amalgamate, as well as what to do with the property.

One thing is certain, however – the fond memories held by many of this church and its place in the community will live on.

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