History of Armadale Free Methodist Church

In the beginning was the Methodist Church developed by John Wesley in the early 1800’s in England.  By the time of his death in 1781, the movement had spread throughout the British Isles to the American colonies in the New World.

The Free Methodist Church sprang from the Methodist Episcopal Church in New York. Worldliness in dress, amusements and friendships were predominant in the churches as the communities and inhabitants became prosperous.  There was a certain contingent of the church that wished to return to the old values once inherent in Free Methodism.  In 1858 B.T. Roberts became leader, and out of necessity formed the Free Methodist Church.

“Free” meant:

  1. Freedom from the domination of secret societies (Free Masons)
  2. Freedom from slavery.
  3. Free seats. (Many churches sold or rented pews).

On August 23, 1860 the new church granted equal representation between laymen and the ministers.

"The movement continued to grow in the United States and also found sustenance in Canada.  The first Free Methodist to arrive in Canada was Tommy Clark , nick-named, “Happy Tom” . He was a U.S. stonemason who found employment in Scarborough.  He and Robert Loveless began holding services in Ellesmere in 1873.  As a result of a revival held in 1879 by Valtina A. M. Brown and Arlette E. Eddy , a society of thirty members was formed.  The first class leaders were Silas Phoenix and Robert Loveless, and the Rev. Thomas Carveth was the pastor.

In 1880, a local farmer, Francis Underwood donated ½ an  acre of land and labour, on Lot 19, Concession 5, township of Scarborough and for the cost of approximately $400.00, a 20’ x 40’ white board frame building was erected on Passmore Avenue, between Middlefield and Markham Road (Highway 48). one block south of Steeles.

On October 31, 1880, B.T. Roberts conducted a ceremony and declared the new Armadale Church officially opened, and free of debt.  The text of his sermon was taken from Matthew 16:18: Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”

The original congregation was made up of William & Margaret Stonehouse, Marion Stewart, Tom McAuley, John Beare, Margaret Robb, Mary Loveless, the four brothers, James, William, John and Alex Macklin.

The discipline of the church required members to give up tobacco and liquor and forbade the membership in secret societies.

Today the church has retained most of its original structure.  There was a stone base added to the Church, and the interior now has a tiled ceiling, and carpeting.  The old wood stove has been replaced with heaters that are run by electricity.  The church woodwork is an authentic example of decorative graining, a finish made by stroking a type of curry comb through a thick layer of varnish.

In 1938, after the arrival of John T. King as pastor, a parsonage was constructed next to the church.  Shortly after this, the beautiful field-stone gateway to the church property was built by Walter Percy of the community.  In 1939, electric lights were installed in the church, and in 1946, the use of an organ in services was voted upon and approved. An additional ¼ acre of land, just west of the church, was acquired from Mabel Weldrick for $100.00.

In 1967, Beatrice Featherstone , the daughter of John Beare , one of the original founders of the church donated an additional 1 ½ acres of land, so the church currently sits on  2 3/8 acres.  For over 120 years this church has spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, and although the congregations were quite small, they continue to serve God and the Community.  In 1985, the Armadale Church was designated as a Heritage Property .

In 2004, a spotlight was erected on the property to light up the church in the evenings so that passer-bys could see that the church was still in use, and in the hope that it would also serve as a beacon to draw other souls to the Lord.

In 2010, in partnership with Malvern Methodist Church, a new church plant called Markham Methodist began under the direction of Rev. Jim Kesselring.  From the fall of 2011 to the spring of 2013, we held Beginners and Workplace English classes for adults and Tutoring for children in Math and English at Cedarwood School. From the fall of 2013 to 2016 this ministry focused on tutoring the children, including an open session family time each week. In the fall of 2016 the school ministry leadership was transitioned to The Tamil Christian Church of Canada.

In June 2015, The Tamil Church of Toronto began worshipping at Armadale. Their Inauguration Service was held July 5th, 2015. We formed a partnership. In December 2016 their Pastor, Rev. Milton Solomon was appointed as Associate Pastor of Armadale Free Methodist Church.  Nine Tamil speaking Christians became members of Armadale in April 2017.

 

In May 2017 Armadale was included in Doors Open Toronto and were privileged to share our history with 92 people of our surrounding community.

 

God continues to bless us and we are grateful for the opportunity to share His Love.