St. Mark’s 190th Anniversary in 2016
On October 30th, 2016, Anniversary Sunday, we celebrated the 190 years of the St. Mark’s congregation in Whitby. We also celebrated the re-dedication of the Almonds Church plaque. Almonds United Church congregation joined the St. Mark’s church family in 1971. The plaque will be installed here at 201 Centre Street S. in the near future to commemorate the joining of these two church families.
St. Mark’s Church has its roots in early Ontario Methodism. It started in the days of the “Circuit riders”, when men rode around the countryside on horseback preaching the Gospel to the early residents of the province. The Whitby Circuit was created out of the Cobourg Circuit.
Meetings were held in private homes and various buildings until a Wesleyan Methodist Church was built and dedicated in 1857. That building still stands on the corner of Centre Street North and Mary Street, though it is now an apartment block.
The Whitby Methodist Tabernacle, which is our present Church, was built in 1875 on the corner of Centre St. South and Colborne Street. At the time, it was one of the largest churches in the country. It was dedicated in 1876 and the Reverend Dr. Egerton Ryerson (after whom Ryerson University is named) was the guest preacher.
In 1925, the pro-union Presbyterians in Whitby voted to join with the Methodist Tabernacle congregation to form the Whitby United Church.
In March 1929, the 165 feet tall steeple on the northwest corner of the church came crashing to the ground during a windstorm. Soon after, the other shorter 90 foot steeple on the southeast corner was removed to prevent another accident.
In 1962, the congregation voted to change the name and the Church adopted the name of St. Mark’s.
The congregation of the tiny Almonds United Church, which was located at Highway 2 and Hall’s Road, became a part of St. Mark’s United Church in 1971.