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The Sanctuary Centennial, 1896-1996, Metropolitan United Church (plaque no. 41)

The Sanctuary Centennial, 1896-1996, Metropolitan United Church

Location on Google Maps: 468 Wellington Street, London, Ontario

Date of plaque unveiling:  October 26, 1996

Speakers:  J. Alvin Boyd, Christine Buchanan and Rev. Robert C. Ripley

Metropolitan United Church London Ontario photograph

History

In 1823, Rev. Robert Corson, a Wesleyan Methodist circuit rider, came to London Township to conduct worship services in people’s homes. By March 1833, London’s first Methodist church was built at the corner of Carling and Ridout Streets. As the congregation grew, larger churches were built, in 1839 and 1842.  On July 16, 1854, North Street (later Queens Avenue) Methodist Church, thought to be the largest west of St. James in Montreal, was built on the corner of clarence and North (now Queens Avenue) streets. On February 2, 1895, a disastrous fire reduced this church to a shell.

Undaunted, the Board of Trustees made plans for a new church on Wellington Street. Samuel McBride, who had been a trustee when the North Street Methodist Church was built, agreed to oversee the construction, even though he was 76 years old. During the process, he presided over 96 of the 99 planning meetings.

The church was built in the Romanesque Revival style on a foundation 184 by 96 feet with a bell tower rising 170 feet. It could seat nearly 1,400 worshipers, though the congregation was then half that size. The cost of the site, the building, the furnishings and the organ came to just over $97,000, a substantial sum even for what was then the wealthiest Methodist church in London. At the laying of the cornerstone on July 30, 1895 the Free Press called it “Methodism’s Magnificent Temple.”

The new church was known as First Methodist Church until the congregation became part of the new United Church of Canada. This new denomination brought together Congregationalists, Methodists, and Presbyterians on June 10, 1925. The first service under the name Metropolitan United Church was on June 14, only four days after the union of churches had taken place.