OLDEST - Christian Disciples Church in Canada - Stratford, PEI
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 46° 12.961 W 063° 04.472
20T E 494251 N 5118051
Quick Description: Another of the oldest churches on Prince Edward Island, construction on Cross Roads Christian Church was begun in 1836 and completed three years later.
Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada
Date Posted: 5/5/2016 8:28:49 PM
Waymark Code: WMR364
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member jhuoni
Views: 1

Long Description:
Georgian/Colonial in style, the church was designed by members of the congregation, which were then Christian Disciples whose faith was influenced by Baptist theology. The congregation was founded in 1810 and a small church built in 1813. This building, built in 1836-1839, is the oldest Christian Disciples Church in Canada.

From 1907 to 1947 the church was operated as a Baptist charge in conjunction with Baptist churches in Alexandra and Hazelbrook, when it apparently again became an Evangelical Christian Church.

This is one of the very few churches ever to have "risen from the dead", as it were. Closed for regular services in 1972, it languished for years, holding only annual anniversary services and being visited by vandals until it was restored and reopened for regular services on August 7, 1988. The church seems to be alive and well as it currently maintains a Facebook Page.

Cross Roads Christian Church is the oldest Christian Disciples Church in Canada. Established in 1810.

The Church at Cross Roads was founded in 1810 by John R. Stewart, an immigrant from Perthshire, Scotland. The first Meeting House was a log cabin built in 1813; it was a small building (30'x20') with no plaster, pews, pulpit or anything to mark it as a House of Prayer.

Construction of the present church began in 1836, the lawyers for the Estate of Peter DesBrisay Stewart leased one acre of land for the cemetery and Meeting House for 999 years at a rental rate of one shilling Sterling per acre, payable every December 25th, with the provision that people of all faiths could use the burial grounds and the Meeting House could be used by others, if not in use at that time by the local congregation. By the turn of the century, Cross Roads had lost many of its member through death and migration to other parts of Canada and the US. However, the members continued to meet on Sunday mornings. In 1925, the church was rededicated and extensive repairs were made to the building. A false ceiling was put in, and the upper windows were removed on the sides.

Due to many reasons, the church closed for regular services in 1972, only annual anniversary services were held up to 1987. During that time, the church was vandalized and in major need of repair. In 1987, a major renovation was undertaken with the original interior ceiling, added in 1925, returned back to the original shape of 1836. This resulted in the upper set of windows being reopened. Also, the original construction of the building was revealed. Pegged mortise and tenon joints, hand-hewn timbers, hand-riven or split laths, horsehair plaster, and hand made nails were found. All the frame timbers were hand-hewn on three sides and the fourth side seemed to be sawed with perhaps a pit axe.

Apart from some of the sills and the floor, most of the frame was a solid as it was in 1836. It was also at this time, that the building was moved 30 feet back from its original site to accommodate parking and the new entrance to the property.

On August 7, 1988 the church was officially reopened for regular services, for the first time since 1972.
From the Town of Stratford

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Cross Roads Christian Church

The church is a two-storey white building with a gable roof. A two-storey vestibule has been added to the entrance of the original structure. Decorative elements include eave returns and corner pilasters. The church is located in a suburban setting amid its cemetery.

The church is valued for its Georgian architectural style and for its association with the history of the Christian Disciples denomination.

The origins of this church begin with John R. Stewart, who came from Perthshire, Scotland. As early as 1810, he was holding worship services in his home. At this time, all of the adherents were of Scots ancestry and their faith was influenced by Baptist theology. By 1813, the young congregation decided to establish their first meeting house - a crude log cabin which was only thirty feet long by twenty feet wide. The following year, the church was visited by the noted evangelist, Alexander Crawford, who was then also working in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Crawford would remain with the Cross Roads congregation for almost two years before moving to Tryon.

In 1836, the congregation received a 999 year lease from the estate of Peter DesBrisay Stewart. This gave them legal title to the land and allowed for the establishment of a cemetery. The agreement also stipulated that the burying grounds would be open to all faiths and the planned new meeting house could be used by others if not being used by the present congregation. Construction on the current building began in 1836 and concluded in 1839, when the former log church was dismantled.

The design of the building was Georgian with a square configuration, symmetrical facade, corner pilasters, gable roof, and eave returns. The windows were all multi-paned and square. In the peak of the gable was a palladian style half moon window.

Another pastor with a long association with the church came from Albany, New York, in 1842. Dr. John Knox was a graduate of the University of Edinburgh in medicine and divinity. He would remain with the congregation until his retirement in 1874. Knox later made a celebrated return visit to preach in the church at a special service in 1890 when he was quite elderly and blind.

By 1907, the Cross Roads Church was combined into one charge with Baptist churches in nearby Alexandra and Hazelbrook. This arrangement lasted until 1947.

The building was renovated extensively in 1925, with the addition of Gothic windows on the first storey replacing the square windows. Inside, a false ceiling was added which effectively cut off light from the upper storey windows.

By 1972, changing demographics in the area led to the church ending its regular services. It was used only for occasional services, especially in the summer. In 1987, however, it experienced a resurrection. A national meeting of the Disciples of Christ denomination held in PEI in 1986 spawned renewed interest in the history of the building and a restoration plan was begun. The building was moved back to accomodate more parking and a new vestibule was added to the front.

It opened for services again in 1988 and the following year, a cairn was erected celebrating the history of the various groups who had used the building in its history: the Disciples of Christ, the independent Christian churches, and the PEI Baptist Association.

The surrounding cemetery is the resting place of notable people from PEI history including Premier Walter Jones (1878-1954) and Rev. Dr. John Knox (1817-1892). Some of the earliest interments were Loyalists from the American Revolutionary War: John Bovyer (1749-1818) and Alexander Mutch (1756-1828).

- the two-storey wood frame construction with pegged mortise and tenon joints
- the wood shingle cladding
- the corner pilasters
- the gable roof with eave returns
- the square and gothic style windows
From Historic Places Canada

Type of documentation of superlative status: Town of Stratford

Location of coordinates: At the site

Web Site: [Web Link]

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