The Story of Egerton Baptist Church
London Ontario


This is the Story of our Church;

It is a story with which we feel, every member, friend and adherent of our church should be familiar.

Increasingly, as the years go by, it is natural that the names of people and places should be forgotten by changing generations.

Because of this we feel that the story of the origin and growth of our church should put into a permanent and lasting form, that will be available, for reference, at all times to the many friends of Egerton Baptist Church.

Sixty years represents almost a lifetime for an individual but is a very brief span in the life and history of churches.

Certainly the community in which our church stands has changed tremendously in the last sixty years and the type of ministry and character of the service of our church to the community must, of necessity, also change.

The fact is, we are almost to be considered as a downtown or inner-city church now and a relatively small percentage of our present congregation is drawn from the area immediately adjacent to our church.

In what effective manner we can serve the immediate community of our church is a problem, of course, for deacons, people and Minister to solve.

Never, perhaps, was the ministry of our Sunday School needed so much as it is today in this community and yet the problem of how to approach, or relate to, our community was never so difficult as it is at this time.

With the growth and change of our community and the growth and change of our congregation we front more problems as to our ministry in the community than we did at the time of our commencement sixty years ago.

We trust you will enjoy the true and inspiring story of our church's beginning and its growth and change through the years and with a feeling of gratitude for all those who have served in years gone by there will come also a feeling of responsibility and dedication, on our own part, to the task that is now before us.

This book is actually an enlargement of the little book that we published in 1954 upon the occasion of our fiftieth anniversary.

Much of it will be the same, but other events of which we have received subsequent information and events that have occurred since that time will, of course, be included.

We introduce you now to the opening chapter of the sixty years of life and ministry and fellowship of the Egerton Church.

It was at the conclusion of the regular morning service on September 18, 1904, at Adelaide Street Baptist Church that a special meeting of the members was called to discuss the possible commencement of a new Baptist work in the east end of the city.

Feeling that the urge to commence this work was of God it was decided to grant letters of dismissal to thirty five members of the Adelaide Church to the charter fellowship of the new church.

A few days later a Council of the Middlesex Lambton Association of Baptist Churches met in London to hear the statement of the new-formed group of Christian brethren and to vote on their acceptance as a church of the Association.

After listening to the minutes that described the steps taken and the decisions made by the group relative to their organization, as presented by the clerk, Mr. W. Meecham, it was unanimously voted to fellowship the group as the Egerton Street Regular Baptist Church of London.

The 'minute' of acceptance by the Association read as follows:-

"It is agreed that we endorse the action taken by these brethren and so receive this church into the fellowship of the Middlesex Lambton Association of Baptist Churches and beseech God's richest blessing upon their future endeavours."

Thus began the Egerton Baptist Church as an abiding part of the wide fellowship of the Canadian denomination.

This action on the part of the Middlesex Lambton Association in reality culminated some seventeen years of endeavour on the part of a few earnest and faithful Baptist people to establish a witness unto the gospel in this particular section of the fast growing city of London.

The work actually originated in May of l887 when two young men who were members of Adelaide Street Baptist Church felt the urge and heard the call to gather a few children into a Sunday School in a small frame building situated at the east end of South Street.

Quickly these two young men, Mr. Robert Nesbitt and Mr. Thos. Hawkie, gathered a number of children from the families in the area and formed two Sunday School classes to meet each Sunday afternoon in the building on South Street.

Adult members of the community formed a class for the study of the Bible, and it was this little group that was the nucleus of the present Egerton Street Baptist Congregation.

So rapidly did this work grow and expand that the young men were forced to appeal to the Adelaide Church for more workers and further financial aid.

On Sunday morning January 2, l887 at a meeting in Adelaide Street Church it was decided to recognize this Sunday School as a Mission of the Adelaide Street Church and a committee was formed to aid and encourage the young men in their work.

This Committee was also to counsel with the young men as to the best ways and means of encouraging the growth and expansion of the new work.

This committee appointed by the Adelaide Street Church consisted of the Minister Rev. E. Johnson, Mr. A. J. Watson, Mr. George Benson, Mr. Edward Bradwin and Mr. George Palmer.

So enthusiastically did this committee work with the young men and their Sunday School that it soon became a work of wide community interest and gave promise of outgrowing the little building in which it started.

The first serious problem arose when in June 1891 a few Methodist brethren working in the Mission felt that it should be named a Community Church rather than a Baptist cause.

After some friendly discussion the Baptist group decided to move further east and rented a building from a Mr. H. McConnell on Egerton Street just south of Hamilton Road.

In July of 1891 Mr. R. H. Saunders was appointed the Superintendent of the Mission in its new home on Egerton Street.

A gentleman living near the McConnel home a Mr. (Squire) Harry Edwards, who was himself a Baptist, proved a tower of strength to the small cause.

His home was always open to the congregation for its meetings, for prayer, Bible study or business.

Constantly Mr. Edwards led the group in the prayer "that the Lord will establish a church in this place."

So out of prayer and faith was the Egerton Church born and in prayer and faith its witness stands today.

Mr. Edwards, with other Baptist pioneers rests today in the North Dorchester cemetry, a few miles this side of Dorchester.

Surely on this our sixtieth Anniversary it becomes us as a congregation to pay an earnest tribute to these great pioneers of our congregation and to dedicate ourselves afresh to the task that, under God, they have bequeathed to us.

At a meeting in September of 1893 the name of the Mission was changed from South Street Mission to Egerton Street Mission and the following brethren were appointed as a committee to be in charge of its activities; Messrs G. P. Robertson, H. Edwards, George Gould, H. McConnell, W. D. Edwards, Robert Hawe, R. H. Saunders, Wm. Marchall, W. Angus, A. E. Brown, and W. H. Watson.

In January 1893 the Committee had felt that a lot should be purchased and a building erected to give a permanent character to the Mission.

A recommendation was made to the Adelaide Street Church to this effect.

At a congregational meeting of that Church it was agreed that a lot should be purchased and a building erected, with this proviso, "That the endeavour shall not exceed six hundred dollars in cost." (Shades of the Baptist Extension Spirit)

Finally when further opposition was experienced from the parent Church with respect to the cost of the enterprise five men volunteered to assume full financial responsibility for the undertaking.

These five men of imperishable memory were:- Messrs. Harry Edwards, George Robertson, William Gurney, John Catling and James DeWolfe.

All honour and respect belongs to the memory of such men who had sufficient faith in God and in the future of the Church of Jesus Christ that they became sureties for its obligation. Of a truth the Egerton Baptist Church was born out of faith and sacrifice and vision.

As a result of the efforts of these gentlemen a lot was purchased on the corner of Egerton Street just north of Hamilton Road.

It is of interest to note that the new property was never deeded to the Adelaide Street Church as some members felt that the venture of the brethren hardly warranted the financial outlay.

The deed of the new property was conveyed in the names of the Trustees of the new Mission, being the five men already mentioned,

Surely as we survey our present building and property we can assume that God has abundantly justified their faith.

The new building was completed and opened by a special service on September 10, 1893.

Pastor J. Mickell preached the sermon in which he commended the new cause and its congregation to God and prayed that the future years might see much achieved for God and His Kingdom by those who should worship here.

So well did the congregation justify the faith of its five self-sacrificial trustees that its first year of 1894 closed with all financial obligations met and a balance of twenty-eight dollars left on hand.

By the Spring of 1875 the Sunday School attendance had increased to a total enrollment of one hundred.

Congregations filled the little building both morning and evening. It was felt that the time had come to enlarge the building which stood where the present parsonage now stands.

By 1899 the building had been enlarged and the congregation again filled the enlarged ediface.

As we have already stated it was agreed by the Middlesex-Lambton Association on September 23, 1904, to receive the Mission into the denomination under the name of EGERTON STREET BAPTIST CHURCH.

On Sunday morning, September 25, 1904 the new Church, having received its charter and been accepted into the fellowship of the denomination, accepted the following covenant that is still the basis of our church life and fellowship.

"We the undersigned constituent and Communicant members of Egerton Street Baptist Church, London, Ontario do herewith solemnly agree to accept and to practice the rules and principles set forth for churches in the Mew Testament and we pledge, moreover, by God's grace that we will as members of this church endeavour sincerely to live in harmony with the articles of our Church Covenant and Constitution."

As a matter of real interest to our people we record the names as appended to that historical statement of allegiance and faith. They are as follows:

Mr. & Mrs. Wm. Grigg, Mr. & Mrs. W. H. Gould, Miss W. Gould, Mr. George Graham, Miss Ethel Dennis, Miss Annie Main, Mr. & Mrs. R. Hawe, Miss D. Hawe, Miss M. Pierce, Miss Ida Bourne, Misses Bertha and Ethel Dean, Miss M. Roberts, Mr.Chas. Roberts, Mr. & Mrs. A. Sharratt, Mrs. T. Fitzsimmons, Mrs. G. Pratt, Mr. E. M. McConnell and Mr. W. Meecham.

Of this number, in 1964, only Mr. George Graham still remains an active member of our church.

Also still remaining of this grand original company are Mrs. B. Smith (nee Bella Roberts) and Mrs. P. Brooks (nee Bertha Dean) of St. Thomas; Mrs. M. White (nee Minnie Roberts) of Brantford, and Mrs. W. McNaughton (nee Winnie Gould) of London. Although these good friends are not now associated with our church we continue to remember them in prayer and trust that every blessing of God will be theirs.

There are others who came into the fellowship of the church soon after this "charter" meeting who are still living and related to various churches within our community and Convention life. We pray for them every blessing of our Heavenly Father's Presence.

Soon after this it was decided to issue a "call" to the Rev. G. E. Tranter, a student in Theology at McMaster.

The following is a copy of the letter sent, upon the request of the congregation, by the clerk to the Rev. G. Tranter conveying notice to the "call."

Dear Sir and Brother:

I am pleased to inform you that a unanimous call was extended to you to become our pastor.

We sincerely hope that you may be led to accept and to come to us.

The consideration is to be five hundred dollars per annum.

We might say that circumstances may warrant our increasing this amount, but at present many special needs demand our attention.

On behalf of the Church,


Warnie Meecham,

It is of interest to know that this lot whereon our church now stands was purchased in October 1905 for the sum of four hundred dollars.

It is fairly certain that in the year 1964 this same piece of ground would sell for more than ten times this amount.

After two years of service in the new church the Rev. Mr. Tranter resigned in June of 1906.

In November of 1906 a call was issued to the Rev. A. J. Bowen of Calvary and Watford, who moved in to his new charge on December 17 of that year.

Rev. Mr. Bowen rendered excellent service of an evangelistic nature to the Egerton Church, also acting as assistant Clerk of the Middlesex Lambton Association of Churches.

During the ministry of Rev. Mr. Bowen steady progress was made both numerically and financially in the young church and this worthy Minister resigned in September 1910 to take charge of the Blenheim Baptist Church.

In November 1910, Mr. W. L. Steeves, student of McMaster University, Toronto, was called to the pulpit.

Mr. Steeves served with distinction, especially among the young people of the church and community for two years, at the end of which time, in April 1912, he was ordained in the Egerton Street Church.

Mr. Steeves served another year following his ordination and resigned in 1913 to accept a charge in Malone, New York, U.S.A. and on March 1st, 1913 the Rev. W. C. Riddiford was asked to become pastor.

During all this time the work had continued to show such rapid progress that a resolution had been presented by the Deacon's Board as early as 1911 stating:-

"That whereas the Lord has seen fit to so bless this church that it is now too small to accomodate the congregations, and whereas the Sunday School has grown beyond all proper accomodation, be it resolved that we do our utmost to raise funds for a new church blinding and that it be begun not later than May 1, 1912.
The Deacon's Board.

After the adoption of this resolution by the congregation a Building Fund was established and in May of 1913 an "every member" canvass was launched in the congregation.

So enthusiastic was the response of the congregation to this appeal that in September of 1913 the contract for the new building was let to the Hyatt Brothers building firm and they were asked to proceed as soon as possible with the project.

The new building, costing approximately $21,000 and covered to the extent of payments and pledges to the amount of $11,000, was ready for services in May of 1914.

On Sunday, June l4, 1914 the Rev. W. A. Cameron a popular young preacher of Bloor Street Baptist Church, Toronto, preached to capacity congregations at the morning and evening opening services of the new church building.

A week of special services and activity followed the opening day and were concluded by the Rev. J. J. Ross, Superintendent of the Home Mission Board preaching on Sunday June 21, 1914 to a full church at both services.

In May of 1916 the Rev. W. C. Riddiford resigned to become Chaplain of the l42nd battalian of the Royal Canadian Regiment.

In September of that year the Rev. A. C. Bingham, a young man fresh from University commenced a most fruitful pastorate in the Egerton Street Church.

Sunday Services during Rev. Mr. Bingham's ministry were largely attended and the Sunday School had top attendance in the year of 356. A B.Y.P.U. with an average attendance of 75 was formed and the spirit of youth that was so much a characteristic of those years was abundantly reflected in the life and activity of the Egerton Church.

Several young men, at this time were challenged and inspired with the call to the ministry such as the Rev. Chas. Geer who later rendered excellent service in the ministry of our denomination.

On Saturday morning of February 7, 1920 the beautiful new church building was almost completely destroyed by a fire that began in the organ and swept through the entire sanctuary.

The congregation, however, at the call of the pastor rallied to such extent that by December of 1920 the sum of $5,000 had been pledged for a new church to be built.

On December 5, 1920 the re-opening services of the new church building were held with the Rev. R. White of Brantford as the special preacher.

Nothing dismayed by the great loss that had befallen them the congregation continued to increase in numbers and in spirit and the spring of 1921 saw the largest response in both church and Sunday School that the church had yet known.

Two outstanding classes were started and carried on in the Sunday School at this time.

"The Invincibles" was a class of young men founded and led by Mrs. George Graham which became the ground for many leaders in the Church School and congregation.

Frequently one meets, forty years later, men who received their first impression of the Christian life in this Class conducted by this fine Christian lady. Two men Mr. Earl Hooper and Mr. Chas. Geer, entered the ministry from this class.

Mr. George Graham conducted a companion class composed of young ladies. One also meets graduates of this class, although they are no longer young, who express their gratitude for all that this class meant to them.

The Rev. A. C. Bingham resigned in 1922 and was followed by the Rev. A. E. Burgess a newly ordained graduate of McMaster University.

Mr. Burgess exercised a most fruitful ministry of five and a half years, during which time the church continued to increase and at this time Rev. A. E. Silver who is presently minister of Mount Brydges Baptist Church felt the call to the ministry and entered upon its preparation at McMaster University.

In 1927 the Rev. J. H. Olmsted was called who remained with the church for ten years during a most effective and bountiful ministry. Mr. Olmsted's ministry was especially fruitful amongst the young people and also among the Indian people of the Muncey Reserve.

In 1937 the Rev. P. D. Cameron of Ingersoll was called. A fund for the redecoration of the church was begun under his versatile leadership and a good number of new members were added to the church.

Mr. Cameron left the church in 1940 and in January of 1941 a call was extended to the Rev. S. E. Larman of the Bethany Church, Toronto to become pastor.

Rev. Mr. Larman commenced his ministry in February of 1941 and for five years carried on a most successful ministry.

During this time many new members were added to the church and the work of interior redecoration was carried to conclusion.

It was due to the enthusiastic efforts of Rev. Mr. Larman that two outstanding mortgages of the church were retired. A fine work was carried on at this time amongst the men of the church. Much pastoral help was given to many who were bereaved by the war.

Mr. Larman resigned in May 1945 to enter the ministry of the United Church where he has since carried on a most happy and successful ministry, being presently retired and living at Preston, Ontario.

On September 2, 1945 the Rev. A. E. Pinkerton, a chaplain of the armed services, was called to the pastorate of the church.

Rev. Mr. Pinkerton did an excellent job as pastor, setting forth in precept and example the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was during his ministry that a final mortgage was retired. A new floor was laid in the Sunday School Hall and the church rewired.

Rev. Mr. Pinkerton resigned in October of 1951 and in the Fall of 1951 the Rev. P. T. Darnell of Whitby was called to the pastorate.

In 1954 the church celebrated its fiftieth Anniversary having at that time redecorated the interior of the church and installed a new automatic heating system.

The church for the last ten years has fast assumed the characteristics, and the problems, of a down-town church.

What was begun as a Mission of the outskirts of the town in the beginning of the century has become a church at the heart of the city as it celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 1964.

In 1958 the church took an unprecedented step in introducing, by the recommendation of the Deacon's Board, a policy of open membership.

The recommendation was to the effect - - -

"We feel that after satisfactory statement of their faith in Christ, and evidence of their relationship within the Christian Church candidates may be accepted as eligible for membership within the fellowship of the church.

"We continue to believe, of course, in the ordinance of baptism as a symbolic expression of an Inward experience of renewed life through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour."

We are glad to baptize any who feel that they would like so to witness unto their Lord.

The Egerton Church has come a long way since its first beginnings in a building on South Street in 1887. Many have gone forth from its fellowship to the Church in Christ in many places. Many have entered into the fellowship of the Church Eternal.

As it celebrates its 60th Anniversary on October 18,1964 the Church faces the future with renewed faith, courage and a sense of Divine purpose.

Surely the words of Christ to the church of the Revelation are applicable to Egerton Church as it stands upon the threshhold of a new era of Gospel ministry and service

"Behold I set before you an open door
- - - and no man can shut it."

We suggest that you keep this memorial book as a testimony and a tribute to the inspired labours and fellowship of an heroic past, also as a reminder of the things that "Baptists Believe" which is the subject of the attached booklet by Dr. H. U. Trinier.