We Remember – by Sid Crow

On February 24, 1876, a group of twelve zealous Lutherans pooled their resources and bought a corner lot on Griffith Street in Welland for $75.00.  (On May 7, 1876, the cornerstone was laid and the church was completed later that year at a cost of $650.)

This was the humble beginning of the Church we know today.  It was not easy! For fifty years, they were served by itinerant Circuit Riders and it was not until 1926 that St. Matthew’s called its first resident pastor, the Reverend S. W. Gartung. He promptly led the Church in the construction of the present building which was dedicated on December 2, 1928.  The balance of his Pastorate was spent fighting the Great Depression.

The next decade saw the celebration of the Church’s sixieth Anniversary, with the usual special events.  It was also the time of the World War Two, during which many of our youth responded to the patriotic call.

During the post war years, our numbers were swelled by an influx of immigrants from Europe.  Their arrival contributed to an era of considerable progress. It became necessary to hold two Services each Sunday. The Sunday School ballooned to the point that the house next door to the Church was bought for use as Sunday School rooms.  Also at this time alterations were made to the Church to provide additional space.  A Christian Education Centre and Fellowship Hall were constructed (and dedicated in 1958.)

In 1976 a number of Special Services and social events were held to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of St. Matthew’s.  These activities were well attended and featured Clergy from neighbouring Churches and, on one occasion, seven former pastors returned to bring greetings and to reminisce.

During 1978, Special Services were held to commemorate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the present building.  Members of the Reeb, Tufts, Esser, Dobrindt and Rockel families, who were involved in the 1928 building programme took part.

In 1994, a “History of St. Matthew’s” was produced and together with appropriate gifts, was dedicated by Bishop Wm. Huras on the 118th Anniversary of the Church.  This event marked the culmination of Pastor Crouse’s ministry at St. Matthew’s. (He left in September, 1996, to accept a call to Grace Lutheran, Eganville, Ontario.)

Pastor Crouse was succeeded in June,1997 by Reverend Kevin McLeod. Finding an ageing congregation whose Youth had left for university and employment elsewhere, he set about rebuilding the Sunday School and breathing new life into the membership. As we celebrate the 125th Anniversary of St. Matthew’s, we give thank(s) to God for His many blessings over the past years and face the future with renewed enthusiasm.

Authored by Sid Crow in 2001

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