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Thornhill United Church, 1803-2003, A Pioneer Ontario Congregation
by John Honsberger
Published by Thornhill United Church, Thornhill, Ontario 2002: 94 pages, soft cover, ISBN 0-9732191-0-6
Price $20.00 incl. postage and handling (Canadian Dollars) Order Form

This history celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Thornhill United Church, an anniversary few other congregations have obtained in this country. Author John Honsberger (a member of the congregation for over 50 years) describes the church’s present vitality as seen by all of its activities and enables the reader to walk with him along the many miles that this two-hundred-year-old congregation has taken. He describes how this small pioneer congregation faced the conflicts and controversies along the way to become the vital congregation that it now is. The text is supplemented with a select bibliography, end notes, and a full index.

Well illustrated with maps, photographs and material from the Thornhill United Church Archives, this book is divided into four chapters which describe in detail the evolution and contribution of the church to the community in parallel with the historical events and challenges faced by the congregation.

"The Past as a Prelude" covers the events that led to loyalist settlement in Thornhill, Vaughan Township, Home District, Upper Canada in 1784, and the evolution of the Methodist movement.

"The Pioneers" chronicles the influence of Methodism on the lifestyle and culture of the settlers through camp meetings, methodist circuits and the settlement of preachers, during a phase of continued immigration impacted by the War of 1812, cholera epidemics, and the Mackenzie Rebellion.

"The Builders" illustrates the subsequent period of growth and construction that saw the first churches built and the introduction of Sunday schools and Temperance Unions alongside the development of railways, civil war in the USA and community members' involvement in conflicts such as the Fenian Raids, the Boer War, and World War I. Their greatest achievement was the formation of the United Church of Canada in 1925.

"The Beneficiaries" provides insight into the role of the church in the community during the Great Depression and World War II, during a period when the congregation was able to celebrate many anniversaries commemorating the accomplishments of the Pioneers and the Builders.

Throughout the text there are numerous references to individuals and their contributions to the history and development of Thornhill and the Methodist community.

The text is complemented by several appendices that include: Ministers, Deaconesses and Pastoral Care Associates from 1803-2002; Associated and Affiliated Ministers, Missionaries and Church Workers; Church Roll Statistics; Stained Glass Windows (with full transcriptions of memorials); Rolls of Honour WWI and WWII; Thornhill Pioneer Methodist Cemetery; and further details about church groups such as the Sunday school, choirs, library, United Church Women 1962-1982, Canadian Girls in Training, Explorers and Tru-Ki-Lo.

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Make cheque or international money order payable to: York Region Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society and mail order to: York Region Branch OGS, Harding P.O. Box 32215, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada L4C 9S3. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.
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