News

Springford Baptist celebrates its 185th anniversary this Sunday

By Chris Abbott, Tillsonburg News

Springford Baptist Church will be remembering its past, celebrating the present and praying for the future this weekend at the church's 185th anniversary service.

"Come and celebrate with us at this 'Homecoming Service' as we renew friendships," said Carol Tribe, Springford Baptist Church Clerk. "We're inviting past members as well as past families and any adherents."

The Sunday, Oct. 29 service with Rev. Lola Mather-Dyler, begins at 10:30 a.m. The Adlington family, who were in the area for many years, will be bringing special music.

"They're coming back to sing - Betty Adlington, who used to live in Cornell, she is now living in Collingwood, she will be participating in the service too. She's 94, so she's one of our oldest members.

"Visiting dignitaries will be bringing greetings at the end of the service," said Tribe, noting they have invited Oxford MP Dave MacKenzie, Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman, and Norwich Township Mayor Larry Martin.

"Then we're having a lunch downstairs for everyone," said Tribe.

Guest speaker will be former pastor Rev. Paul Stade, who was the minister at Springford Baptist from 1984-1991, and now resides in Brandon, Manitoba.

The church's history goes back to 1832, long before confederation (1867), before the boundaries of Oxford County were established (1850), and even before the Rebellion in Upper and Lower Canada (1837).

The original church, constructed in wood, burned, and was eventually replaced by the current church in 1887.

"The cornerstone was laid June 22nd, 1887 and it was completed in November that year - it was dedicated on Nov. 27," said Tribe. "So the present church (building) is 130 years old.

"The church they attended prior to this church being built was the old Springford Women's Institute Hall - it was given to them - and that hall has since been demolished. The second church, I suppose it didn't serve the numbers they had."

Over the last 130 years there have been renovations, but no major changes to its architecture.

The 185th is significant, not because it's also Canada's 150th anniversary, but because it's been a full decade since they last celebrated an anniversary, which included a dinner and musical program the night before the 175th.

"When you're a small, country church, every year that we're still there counts," said Tribe.

Other special 185th anniversary events this year included a 1950s Fashions of the Past Sunday with participants dressed in 50s attire (Sept. 24), a Gospel Concert (Oct. 1), classic car show, Royal Tea for Mother's Day, and cornerstone re-dedication.

"It was just a fun time."