Alvinston’s Guthrie United Church marks 100th anniversary

Community Content | News.

While its congregation was established 140 years ago, Alvinston’s Guthrie United Church is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of its present building.

A special 3 p.m. service by Rev. Jo-Anne Symington is planned for May 25 with a supper and musical entertainment to follow.

Guest speaker for the event is Neil Armstrong, son of the late Helen Armstrong, a long-time member and church historian who wrote a number of local church history booklets.

According to a church directory published in 1986, a small group of Presbyterians in and around Alvinston had long wanted a church established in Alvinston.

In 1873 they set about to have one built and at that time, requested the Presbytery of London to organize a congregation in Alvinston.

As a consequence, on Feb. 2, 1874 a congregation was formed and within a year a church was built.

The first church, it noted, was a small white frame building located on a lot on Church Street.

However, by 1897, Guthrie’s growing congregation realized it needed a larger building and the following year a larger building had been constructed and the first church building was moved to the east of the new structure and served as Sunday school rooms.

Sadly, on Feb. 2, 1914 tragedy struck the tranquil Village of Alvinston as both the first and second churches burned to the ground.

The response from the community was quick and so prodigious, by July 1, 1914 the cornerstone for a beautiful new red brick edifice was laid at the church’s present River Street location, with the new sanctuary opened for public worship on May 9, 1915.

The Church Union vote of 1925 saw many Presbyterians enter the United Church of Canada and as a consequence the church became Guthrie United Church.

Brooke-Alvinston mayor Don McGugan noted that both the founding of the congregation in 1874 and the laying of the cornerstone of the present building 100 years ago are being celebrated at the event.

“It’s a beautiful building and the celebration affords a great opportunity for the public to come and see it,” he said.

“There is still a very active congregation here and they are very proud of this building and some of the things that have been accomplished here.”