In a moving ceremony, parishioners in Arran-Elderslie bid a fond farewell to their little country church, Mt. Hope, on Sunday, April 25th.
Rev. Heather Davies officiated at the service that had to be live-streamed due to the pandemic that has meant no in-person church services. Mt. Hope was a part of the Southampton United Church charge and, using technology, the service was interspersed with musical selections from Southampton United Church, along with previous guest speakers who were ministers at the church, including Rev. Keith Reynolds who served the charge for some 13 years.
Mt. Hope was more than the focal point of Sunday worship, it was a social gathering and meeting place for picnics, weddings, baptisms and funerals.
Behind the little church is the cemetery where ancestors are buried, but unlike most cemeteries that are cared for by municipalities, Mt. Hope is unique in that it has been cared for by the church and the descendants of those buried there. In 1967, a special cairn listing the names of all those buried in the cemetery was established by the fathers of both the Monkman and Wolfe families and was then restored by their two sons.
Not only have the doors closed but the church itself will be demolished in May, a monument installed in its place and the land turned over to Arran-Elderslie which will then begin maintaining the cemetery. A final farewell.