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|Beckwith Baptist Church
Lot 1, Con. 6
The Log Church, 1847
Baptist families in Beckwith Township in 1847 numbered seventeen, according to Lockwood’s data. A further eight families resulted from mixed marriages between Baptists and Presbyterians or Methodists who counted one spouse or the other as Baptist. Groups had split off to form churches at Perth, Carleton Place, and Drummond. This left approximately ten families, comprising at least sixty individuals of various ages, who lived in the southern concessions of Beckwith or the eastern part of Drummond. It would have been these who built the log church at Tennyson.
There were three trustees at Beckwith Baptist Church, namely, Hugh McEwen, Alexander McGregor, Donald Buchanan. These three bought from Archibald McGregor, on behalf of the church, 893 square yards of land on Lot 27, Concession 6 of Drummond, just where the Tennyson-Perth road met the Beckwith/Drummond Township line. The price of the land was five shillings. The building is said to have been 40 feet by 40 feet in dimensions, with a cottage roof and with two large windows on each side.
Pastor Halcroft served well from 1843 to 1854, and the Beckwith Church grew and prospered in its new building and in the community. But he eventually left for other fields, and the church was without pastoral leadership for several years. As Pastor Blewitt relates, there were visiting pastors but no continuous ministry. In 1862 the Rev. John Stewart came and began to hold services every second week. He apparently served simultaneously the churches at Carleton Place, Drummond, and Middleville as well as Beckwith. He stayed only two years, possibly discouraged by the distances he had to travel over poor roads. He was succeeded by the Rev. D. McDiarmid, who served three years and under whose leadership a number of folk were lead to Christ, baptized, and added to the church. John Stewart then served a second time, from1868 to 1869, but when he departed, the work at Beckwith ground to a complete halt and remained thus for a full twenty years. With no pastor, the church held neither worship services nor Sunday School Classes, and the log church sat silent and empty. The meeting of Canada Central Association in 1879 mourned the state of this and similar churches, and one of the delegates prayed fervently that a “real revival” would soon take place. It would be another eleven years before the answer came for Beckwith.
The Brick Church, 1907/08
The revival if 1890 gave sufficient momentum to the little church at Tennyson to carry it well into the 1900’s. One result was the replacing of the old log church with a large permanent building made of brick. A business meeting on the 19th of August 1906, with the student pastor W.C. Copsey in the chair, voted to undertake the construction. A committee was chosen to secure the necessary building materials and raise funds.
The committee members were: H.G. Devlin, A. Buchanan, C. Stearns, A. McKay, R. Robertson, M. McGregor, J. McNaughton.
A building lot was obtained from John Cameron a short distance from the original church. A contract for $437.00 was let to John S. Davies and construction started in late 1907. A mortgage in the amount of $400 was taken up by the Church Edifice Board of the Convention.
Here a curious fact emerges. The treasurer’s books show the actual costs, including the contractor’s fee, construction materials, labour and legal fees as totaling $1201.50 or nearly triple the original cost estimate. Local legend has it that when the building was partly constructed, a violent windstorm struck the area and demolished the partly erected walls. As evidence, the legend goes, the north wall even today bulges perceptibly, suggesting that the bricklayers, rather than taking down the remaining bricks, rebuilt on the partly deformed base. The double-bricked walls may have been another unforeseen expense incurred in the interests of increased strength.
The bricks for the building cost $141.39, and the bricklayers charged $100.00. Stone for the foundation, plus the stonemason’s wages came to $58.00. Five hundred feet of scantling and 13,500 shingles cost $52.90. The deed for the land cost $5.88, and the lawyer’s fee $1.00. As in the case of the church’s operating expenses during the 1890’s, it is necessary to take into account many decades of inflation in order to appreciate the true cost of the building. If the cost in 1907/08 is compared with the replacement cost of a similar building today, an inflation rate of approximately 158% is obtained. In this way we realize that the Baptists of Beckwith must have been dedicated givers indeed. This is also indicated by the speed with which they paid off the mortgage: by 1911 they had paid three-fourths of what they owed, and by January 1914 they had paid it all.
The new building was dedicated to the glory if God in the 14th of June 1908. The treasurer if the Home Mission Board, the Rev. C.J. Cameron, was special speaker, and the large assembly also heard addresses by Dr. E.J. Stobo of Smith Falls, Prof. I.G. Matthews of McMaster University (a former pastor at Beckwith), and the Rev. J. Glyn Williams, pastor of Beckwith Baptist Church. Blewitt quotes The Canadian Baptist for 1908 as affirming that the occasion was “a time of great rejoicing, for the hope of many years had at last been realized.” A few days later the church held a tea meeting, and they brought in a singing quartet at considerable expense for the horse-drawn taxi from the railway station.
The years following the building of the brick church were productive ones. In 1910 special meetings were held, when seven individuals accepted Christ and were baptized. The church sheds, which sheltered the horses while their owners were at worship and also served for storing firewood for the stove, were rebuilt in 1913. In 1917 the people again held evangelistic meetings, when eight more individuals confessed Christ as their Saviour and were baptized. These eight were: Mr. and Mrs. William Coleman, Mr. and Mrs. Elisha Coleman, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Coleman, Mr. Burton Coleman and Mrs. Alex Buchanan.
The church is still in existence at the corner of 7th line Beckwith and Tennyson Road. It is the only surviving Baptist Rural Church in Lanark County