Bethesda-Dixie United Church

From a story by Grant Jones
Bethesda-Dixie United Church

In 1863, a prayer meeting was held at the home of James Walker on the old Dundas Road. Discussions began about a church for the village of Summerville. Committees were formed viz the Trustees – Robert Dorsey, William Clarkson, William Shaver, Charles Shaver, James Walker, William Watson and Isaac Wilcox. The chairman of the building Committee was Rev. James Greener, who became the first minister of the new church. Bethesda Wesleyan Methodist Church, a two colour brick building in the simple gothic style, 30 x 40 feet in size and approximately 16 feet high, was built on the north side of the Dundas Highway, east of Dixie Road. In January 1864, the church opened, one year after the decision was made. In 1875 the first organ was acquired and in 1894 one dozen hymn books were purchased for the church.

Bethesda-Dixie United Church

On the 50th anniversary of Bethesda in 1914, additional land was purchased to permit the moving back of the driving shed and a vestibule and choir loft were added. The entire church was wired for electric lights.

In 1925 came church union and the name of the church was changed to Bethesda United Church. The parsonage was constructed on newly acquired land and the Ladies Aid was formed. Six years later Bethesda’s Women’s Missionary Society was organized. During the 1940s and 50s further building took place to accommodate an ever increasing Sunday School.

In January 1964 the 100th anniversary was celebrated. During those first 100 years 30 ministers served Bethesda.

The area around the church became increasingly industrialized and many of the original families moved away. After considering various alternatives, the members of Bethesda decided to move to the Forest Glen area. The memberships and assets of Bethesda were a great help in starting the new church. The final service was held in April 1967 and the building at 1801 Dundas Street East was sold to the Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church. A few members of Bethesda transferred to Applewood United Church, but the majority moved to the auditorium of the Forest Glen Public School until their new church was built.

To learn more about the Village of Summerville,

Some more pictures from “Old” Bethesda:

Old Bethesda   Old Bethesda

1 Used with permission of Adele Laughton and Don Laughton.