History of Richmond Hill United Church

Richmond Hill United Church entrance - celebrating 200 years

Our congregation traces its roots back to 1805. Richmond Hill was a point on the Methodist "circuit" ministered to by saddle bag preachers who conducted services in homes or out of doors.

By 1810, a modest log schoolhouse provided shelter for worship, and in 1847 the first church building was erected. This structure was on a site south of our current location. Nineteen years later, after a service that included the biblical passage "Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth," it burned to the ground.

Our predecessors, clearly action-oriented people of great faith and vision had, within five months of the fire, acquired a new site, arranged for plans and financing, and laid the cornerstones of the fine sanctuary in use today. It was large enough to accommodate the entire population of the town at the time of its completion in 1881.

The church began as Richmond Hill Methodist Church, but in 1925 (at the time of Church Union) it was re-named St. John's United. When St. John's United and St. Paul's United (the local Presbyterians who had opted for Union) joined forces, it became Richmond Hill United Church.

Much of the original church remains unchanged. The major visible change to the structure was the addition of the Christian Education building in 1957/58, made necessary by rapid growth in the town. Records indicate that our Sunday School had an average attendance of 559 children!

In January of 1988 the congregation chose to go through a major restoration program, giving back to the building the glory of a much earlier day. 1997 saw significant improvements to the church organ, boosting a growing music program and providing us with a fine historic instrument.

The rich history of our church, reflected in its architecture, is also reflected in our commitment to advancing the cause of social justice. The United Church has long been an advocate for social justice concerns. Our current activities in this area locally are set out in the Justice section.

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