St Paul's InteriorSt. Paul’s congregation has a long and honoured history. The largest group of the early Amherst Island settlers were the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians from Northern Ireland. In the earliest years the Presbyterians gathered to worship in homes and in the open air under large trees. The congregation was officially formed in 1849.

In 1851 the Presbyterians erected a modest wooden frame building on property in the centre of the Island and  worshipped in it until 1883 when the present sanctuary was constructed.  The  original structure was moved to the former Tugwell property now known as the Allen property adjacent to the Island Ferry Dock and is still used as a farm building.

Limestone, cut and prepared by Kingston Penitentiary inmates, was hauled over the lake ice in April by Presbyterians using horse-drawn sleighs. The interior of the sanctuary is as beautiful as the exterior is rugged and attractive. The ceiling of alternate oak and cherry wood, the comfortable pews, the attractive coloured windows and the magnificent huge stained glass window at the back of the sanctuary (in memory of The Reverend and Mrs. James MacLennan) all serve to make St. Paul’s one of the most impressive structures on the island.

Architectural plans of the building indicate that Sunday School and meeting accommodations were planned for the basement but were never carried out.

As a result of a substantial bequest from the estate of the late Noreen S. Young, the proposal to provide indoor facilities was initiated. A committee was formed which engaged in extensive planning and arrangements for financing.

With the cooperation of Kingston Presbytery which contributed a substantial amount of money from the Sunbury-Foxboro funds, the generous contributions of our Presbyterian Church Women and the many personal contributions of dedicated members and friends of St. Paul’s, the construction was completed.

A new hall was added to the Sanctuary in 1992 to provide bathroom facilities, a kitchen, meeting rooms, Sunday School rooms and a great room. This facility has provided the island with a medium-sized venue for meetings and events and has been well-used by the community. Its proximity to the Glenwood cemetery makes it an ideal place for receptions following funerals. St. Paul’s seeks to be a welcoming congregation serving all islanders.

The congregation, served by eighteen ministers, a catechist and a student minister, as well as committed lay persons over its history, has always been actively involved in the life of Amherst Island. Many are the stories of suppers, teas, plays and bake sales which brought the Island together for good food, fun and fellowship. The Garden Party on the fourth Saturday of July, now in its 66th year, is one of the largest annual events on the Island and involves baking, clothing, candy, books and plant sales, a White Elephant Table, a tea room, a hamburger and hot dog concession and a pie and ice cream centre, as well as displays of quilts and special memorabilia. Then there is also an auction and live entertainment. Weather is always a mystery for the Presbyterians what with it being an outside venue each year.

St. Paul’s ministers have stayed for long pastorates. The Rev. James Cumberland gave leadership from 1881 to 1920, almost 40 years. The Rev. R.K. Earls, who ministered from 1932 to 1954, saw the church through the Second World War. The Rev. Norman Allison, 1970 to 1982, also served as Reeve for the Island. The Rev. Lindsay McIntyre, served in his retirement years, from 1982 until his death in 1996. Dr. Zander Dunn, conducted worship as a student in Arts at Queen’s University (1955-1959), was ordained and inducted into St. Paul’s (his first charge) in 1962 and returned, after his retirement, to give leadership from 1999 to 2013. The Rev. Harry Klassen served as an interim minister from 2013 to 2015 and was assisted by Rev. Zander Dunn.  Rev. Jay Brennan served from 2015 to 2017. Mr. Nathan Townend is the current lay minister.

The following ministers, student and catechist have served this congregation with dedication and devotion through the years.

1855 – 75 Rev. J. McIntosh
1876 – 78 Rev. H. Steele
1878 – 80 Rev. A. MacLennan
1881 – 1920 Rev. J. Cumberland
1920 – 24 Rev. W.T. McCree
1924 – 25 Rev. R.G. Fry
1926 – 29 Rev. J.V. Laughland
1929 – 31 Rev. S.H. Hill
1932 – 54 Rev. R.K. Earls
1962 – 64 Rev. C.A. Dunn
1964 – 66 Mr. L.E. Siverns
1966 – 69 Mr. J. Mullins
1970 – 82 Rev. N.J. Allison
1982 – 96 Rev. S.L. McIntyre
1996 – 99 Rev. William Duffy/Rev. J.B. Forsyth
1999 – 2013 Rev. Dr. C.A. “Zander” Dunn
2013 – 2015 Rev. Harry Klassen
2015 – 2017 Rev. Jay Brennan

2018 –                            Mr. Nathan Townend

Many thanks to Miss Juanita K. Glenn for preparing the original version of this brief history.

John A Poster