St. Marys Journal Argus
At an afternoon gathering Sunday, Sept. 7 at the Union Line Cemetery north of Kirkton, Mike Brine offered an Internet use tip to his former fellow parishioners at Woodham United Church: “Go to Google Earth, and find Woodham, and you’ll see the church.”
Given that the property — originally home to a white brick “New Connexion” church constructed in 1870; rebuilt in red brick in 1905 by the Methodists — has sat vacant since the building was dismantled earlier this year, Google Earth (currently using images of the village taken prior to the demolition) was one of the few ways, along with old family photos and newspaper clippings, that people can see what used to be.
Now, thanks to a new cairn unveiled last Sunday at the Union Line gathering, other images of the former Woodham UC — including an artfully reproduced photo embossed onto a granite plaque; but also including cornerstones highlighting some of the influential groups within the church over the decades — will be on permanent display.
“The church may not still be there, but that community lives on inside all of us, and also in this cairn that has been erected,” declared Rev. Paul Vollick of the joint Granton-Wesley and Kirkton United Church pastoral charge — a man of the cloth very familiar to Woodham UC’s former congregants, given that many of them have joined those other churches since the demise of their own.
“Whenever we pass by (the cairn), remember the wonderful faith community it represents,” Vollick said to attendees at Sunday’s dedication service. “Today, we dedicate this cairn to all the generations of who worshipped (at Woodham UC).”
A commemorative booklet produced by the congregation in conjunction with the church’s closure explained that, “since 2000, congregation numbers have diminished and, in 2008, services alternated on a monthly basis with Kirkton United Church.” Further consolidation of worship opportunities followed, and “after 142-plus years of faithful service, the Woodham United Church closed, and the congregation decided at a congregational meeting on March 10, 2013 to disband.”
Tim Shute, who was chair of the trustees at the time of that decision, also spoke at Sunday’s dedication. “It’s something we can all be very proud of,” he said of the cairn, before thanking the Cairn Committee as well as Kirkton-area mason Matt Froud for doing the work on the construction.