Applewood United Church

From: Applewood United Church Fiftieth Anniversary Booklet, 2003

On May 4, 1952 a service attended by 20 families was held at Lakeview Central School, with Dr. C.A. Myers and Rev. J.C. Torrance officiating. This meeting was called in response to a survey of the area by the Toronto Home Missions Council, assessing the needs to the growing population south of the Q.E.W.

On June 26, a meeting was held at the home of Lyle and Margaret McKay and plans were made to continue this fledgling church in the fall at Lakeview School. There was much discussion about the development beginning north of the Q.E.W. That September, Mr J. Storey began as acting minister and remained for the year.

The original meeting of the Applewood Congregation was held on May 1, 1953 in the recreation room of the G.S. Shipp and Sons’ sales office, at the corner of the Service Road and McIntosh Crescent. On that evening the site of the present church was chosen and plans were made to erect ‘the Portable’. With an auditorium seating 200 and an adjoining Sunday School room, the portable was ready for use on September 20. That first Sunday found the building filled to overflowing – a good omen indeed. The official service for the ‘Constitution of the Congregation of Applewood United Church’ was held on Monday evening, December 7, 1953, and it is from this service that we date our actual inception.

In July 1954, the Rev. Lawrence A. Purdy began his duties as the first minister of Applewood United Church. At the first Anniversary, Sunday School began at 9:30am and two church services were inaugurated, one at 10:30 am and one at 11:45am. The youngest children attended Sunday School in the Portable while the older age groups met in the classrooms of Applewood Public School which was rented to provide accommodation for the large number of children.

The architect commissioned to design Applewood United Church was James A Murray, assistant professor at the University of Toronto, School of Architecture. Faced with our request, he went on a weekend retreat in order, in his words, “to evolve suitable expression of our honest Christian faith, worked with the best of contemporary skill and materials”.

The actual construction was begun on September 25, 1955 with the official sod-turning. This was followed on April 15, 1956, by the “Laying of the Foundation Stone” ceremony. Almost a year later Applewood United Church was complete. On March 17, 1957 a thankful congregation gathered in the new sanctuary to witness the service of dedication. With the facilities of the new church now available, the organizations that had been handicapped by lack of space were able to expand and improve and new activities were started.

The Rev. B.K. Cronk took over the reins in August 1959 and the Rev. Marilyn Hunter as assistant minister joined five years later. During this period of growth, facilities became crowded, and in 1965 additions were made in the form of the library and the minister’s study above the parlour.

Keith Cronk and Marilyn Hunter were succeeded by the Rev. James Perry who began on July 1, 1968 and continued to serve Applewood for over five years. In December of 1973, the Rev. Donald V. Sterling was inducted as minister of Applewood United Church. Don was our minister for 10 years. Sunday School attendance was high. The beautiful Copper Beach tree near the pre-school entrance was planted during Don’s ministry by the Sunday School department.

For the next two years, Applewood enjoyed the shared ministry of Rev. Gerry Brown and the late Rev. Bob Lacey, their ministries complementing each other. Rev. Robert Lyon-Stewart and his family joined us for the next five years. Lay involvement in services increased during this time. Joyce Rayworth joined Bob in 1990 as a ‘student supply’ from Emmanuel College. Her passion was pastoral care. Rev. Dr. Phil Johnson’s ministry was from 1991 to 1992. The elders joined him on a ‘bus ride’ to envision their future of Applewood.

Rev. Walter Murray was called in 1992. Many events were recorded in poetry. Words by Walter and music by Daniel Rubinoff, our musical director, generated much enthusiasm and support by actors and congregation, young and old alike! Bethlehem and Egypt came to Applewood. During Rev. Ron Hunt’s ministry in 2000-2001 discussion around a vision of UCEM and proposed renovations of the sanctuary increased.

Rev. Darrow Woods’ ministry began in 2001. Renovations to the sanctuary were completed in the summer of 2002. Bethesda of Forest Glen and St. Luke’s-on-the-Hill joined Applewood in the fall of 2003. The three congregations now look to the new future together.

Pictures are from the Applewood United Church archives.