When the two historic United Church congregations in Whonnock and Webster’s Corners decided to amalgamate, it began a year of struggle.
Both Whonnock United Church and Webster’s Corners United Church have a long history in their respective communities. Now they are happy to report that the struggle is over, and they have begun to thrive together.
Both of these churches are celebrating 100 years of service to their communities. Each had a longer history as a missionary outpost in the days when every small settlement in Maple Ridge had its own identity, with stores, schools and churches to serve the people living nearby.
People worshipping at Whonnock Presbyterian Church, as it was originally called, had been meeting for services in Whonnock School for a weekly cost of 25 cents.
By 1914, the congregation began work on a church building, with active financial support from the Ladies’ Aid.
The name of the congregation changed in 1925 to Whonnock United Church.
The church hall was built in 1933, and a belfry added on the church roof.
The busy ladies bought beautiful new pews, which are now installed in Webster’s Whonnock United Church.
Webster’s Corners Methodist Church had a similar history in its own community. For a while, services were held in the post office there.
In 1912, work began on property on Dewdney Trunk Road, donated by Mr. Biggs, with a few hundred dollars in donations and some volunteer labour.
When the church was partly built, it had a notice to either move or pay an additional $200 because of a surveying error. Despite this set-back, the church opened with a celebration banquet, as seen in today’s photograph.
Like Whonnock United Church, Webster’s Corners became a United Church in 1925, when most of the Presbyterian and Methodist churches in Canada joined to form the United Church. It too had an active group of women earning money with teas and bake sales. Its name has also changed, from Ladies’ Aid to Women’s Auxiliary and Women’s Missionary Society.
Then in 1962, the names changed again to United Church Women, but the devotion and hard work remained the same.
Webster’s Whonnock United Church will be celebrating its successful amalgamation with several events.
On March 31st, it will hold a 100th anniversary tea and sale of baking, books and plants. People are welcome to attend between noon and 4 p.m.
On June 30, the Webster’s Whonnock United Church will also have a display at the annual Webster’s Corners Day celebration in the community school at the corner of Dewdney Trunk Road and 256th Street. It will have a heritage table with items and photos from their past.
Today’s photo was recently donated to the Maple Ridge Museum by the Weldon family. It shows Webster’s Corners Church set up for a banquet in 1914. Notice the chairs, at a time when the congregation couldn’t afford pews.
Sheila Nickols is past president of the Maple Ridge Historical Society.