Some of Our History
By the Rev. Doug Greenough
I was told by a charter member that when they were choosing a name for the church it was finalized to two names - St. James United Church and Grace United Church, the latter suggested by Clint Sykes. Who incidentally, shortly after Church Union in 1925, had been baptized in Grace now United Church? The name of Grace was chosen for the new congregation – Grace United Church in Sarnia.
In the early years when I arrived in 1980, Sarnia was demographically a city with many younger families. i.e. To mention one change we had three cub packs, now only one cub pack with 12 members. Statistics matched across the city. In those years Grace was a very busy place bursting with activities.
The UCW sponsored over the seventies and early eighties a series of Fall and Winter "interest" groups with about 125 plus registered for each series (four). The groups ranged from crafts (canning, wicker chairs – Marilyn Davies), to paper towel to Bible study). About the mid-eighties they had only the Winter series, and finally discontinued with more working wives.
In the early eighties the Christian Development Committee of the Session (Wayne Caslick, Al Grimwood, Jim Tanton) sponsored a series of four Family Life presentations using the Dobson family series films as a resource, with Sunday Night Sessions held in the Gym. Over one hundred families from the community (200 plus people) were registered for the series ($5.00/couple registration for series).
It was traditional over these years to have "Youth Sunday" on the second Sunday in February. The various youth groups paraded into the church sanctuary and deposited their group flags in stands at the front of the church. On these occasions the church was more than filled and extra chairs had to be brought in from the other rooms. It was truly a high point, next to Easter, of the church year.
The story behind the stained glass windows of the chapel
In July of 1980 Rev. Doug Greenough and his family arrived and the Church office and minister’s office were incorporated into the church buildings. The next year, the Committee of Stewards chaired by Mr. George Werezak adapted the old Montessori kindergarten room to the new "Friendship Room" to be used as a church parlour. Since that date it has continued to be one of the most used facilities in Grace Church.
The addition of the four stained glass windows in the present chapel, then the front section of the church, became the next project under the direction of Mr. Tim Lester, a long time Elder of the Grace Church Session. Mona Heath gave us the first donation of $2,000.00 in memory of her husband Jack, and most of this sum was used to pay for the artist’s designs for the four windows (designs still on display at the entrance to the present Chapel).
The four designed windows were of the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and were eventually installed in that order. Each window at the time cost about $12,000 to $13,000 installed. A "Stained Glass Memorial Fund" was established and over the next nine years as the fund grew, the windows were gradually installed one at a time. Names were recorded in the Memorial Book, and the windows stand as a great visible to memorial to many former members, their families and friends of Grace.
The Stained Glass Memorial Fund was often an option as people gave memorial gifts in memory of those whose funeral they attended.