Fennell Ave. Church of Christ
50th Anniversary History
The work of the church at Fennell Ave., Hamilton, Ont. was begun in September 1951.
About 80 members of the church meeting at 77 Sanford Ave. South, Hamilton, noticed that the city was growing and many new homes were going up in the vicinity of East 27th St. and Fennell Ave, on the mountain, without a church in the area. Bro. Edwin Fisher owned three lots on the corner of East 27th and Fennell Ave. Two lots were purchased, and soon the first building was erected. It was a small red brick structure 20 feet by 30 feet. Funds for the building were entirely from members' contributions.
The building opened for service September 16, 1951 with Sunday afternoon Bible classes and an evening service at 7 p.m. Bible classes were also held on Tuesday evenings.
On January 27, 1952 the church at Fennell began meeting on Sunday mornings. There were 17 charter members. Roy Merritt, then employed by the Sanford Ave. congregation, did the preaching at the morning service. Arthur Walker preached at the evening service.
Bro. Roy Merritt and family moved to the mountain in about 1954 and preached for the Fennell congregation. Roy spent many days canvassing the neighbourhood. Among the many converts were Mike and Nelle Bachuk.
It was soon realized that this small building was inadequate, and the building was expanded in 1954 to 20 feet by 50 feet. This too began to overflow, and in Aug. 1955 construction was begun on the present structure.
In 1954 the small congregation in Westdale sold their building on South Oval for $14,000.00 and gave the money to Fennell to help finance the new building to be erected in 1955. At the same time the members from Westdale transferred their membership to Fennell Ave. Bro. Michael Bachuk (a new convert) was the contractor for the new building. [Note - he went on to build many of the church buildings in Ontario]
The building had a seating capacity of 275, classrooms, a nursery, baptistry, rest rooms, kitchen and ministers study.
The furniture on the platform, pulpit, chairs (upholstered in olive green to match the draperies) and the table for the Lord's supper were brought from Westdale. Backing for the bapistry was and eight foot square oil painting of the Jordan River by Mrs. Muriel (Scott) Blaney.
Membership in 1955 was 60 with attendance in the 70's.
Opening service in the new building began February 5, 1956 with services at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Meetings continued from Feb. 6 to Feb. 19 with a series of Bible sermons given by Keith Thompson from Owen Sound
In 1958 the June meeting was held in Hamilton.
Bob and Rachael Davison came to work with the Fennell congregation in January 1959 and preached for the congregation until June 1962.
The first elders and deacons appointed in 1960 were:
Lloyd Snure Michael Bachuk
Arthur Walker Donald Burgoin
Albert Jones Donald Halls
By February 1962 there were about 80 members. Bible School attendance was about 120 and Sunday morning attendance 109.
After Bob Davison left in June 1962, there was no full time preacher.
David and Evelyn (Whitfield) Johnson and family came from Jordan Ont. in 1963
In the 60's, on the physical side of our operation, a new office for the preacher was built at the front of the building over the stairwell. Glass windows were installed in each of the auditorium doors to make the coat rack visible from the inside of the auditorium when the doors were closed. The iron fence was installed to solve the problem of corner cutting.
In November 1964 a meeting with Wesley Jones resulted in 12 baptisms and 2 restorations. There were 40 visitors.
The summer of 1965 was one of the busiest years in the Lord's work in this province for a number of years. Nine campaigns were planned. Several of the members from the congregation spent time in these campaigns.
A visitation program under the direction of David Johnson continued for many years. The congregation was divided into 4 teams - each team visiting one week each month - 2 visits each for each couple on the team.
In Oct. 1965 Rod Spaulding held a 3 day meeting to guide us in certain aspects of the visitation program and a personal evangelism program.
In October 1965 Julia VanAlstine was appointed to work full time with the congregation. Her duties included secretarial work, visitation, and personal evangelism. David and Julia did a religious census in the community each Wed. afternoon.
Early in 1966 the bulletin was given a name. In order to have less expensive mailing rates from the Canadian government certain requirements must be met and among these, our bulletin must have a name. "The Visitor" was chosen.
In April of 1966 a workshop was held with Rod Spaulding to prepare for an upcoming campaign in June. Thirty-three workers from Odessa, Texas arrived to conduct a census campaign. A meeting followed this with Dean Clutter. The results from this campaign and meeting were excellent. One hundred sixty-one families requested home Bible Correspondence courses; twenty-two children were enrolled in Bible School. In addition two hundred forty-five good contacts were made.
Brian Boden made an excellent contribution to the work at Fennell during the summer months. He conducted many home Bible studies as well as some teaching. He left to attend Michigan Christian College.
In 1968 the property on the north side of Fennell and East 27th was purchased from the church of the Nazarene. Keith Wallace and Ron Hoover worked diligently on the financing required. The new facility, the Annex, became available in Aug. Much cleaning and repair work was needed, as well as painting the interior, and the rooms equipped with black boards, tack boards and furniture.
The Sanford Ave. congregation at this time became sadly depleted in numbers. Many young and energetic members had left to carry on the work in other places - some to Ivan Ave., some to Fennell. The congregation decided that the money spent in trying to maintain the work at that location might be put to better use if the building were disposed of and the proceeds divided between the other congregations in the city. The money in the treasury and the money from the sale of the building was portioned out to various congregations (approx. $25000.00). On the first Lord's day in Sept. 1968 the congregation departed to take up membership with the congregation of their choice - the larger number became members at Fennell Ave.
The visitation program begun in 1965 was still going on with the younger men taking the responsibility, as well as doing the Tuesday night teaching. Jack Yager worked with the youth and many outings and fun times were much enjoyed.
By 1969 the Ivon Stewart Campaign wheels were already beginning to turn even though it was a year and a half away. One of the conditions insisted upon was that at least two members of the hosting congregation participate in campaigns other than their own. Charlie Cook (an elder) went to work in the Canberra, Australia campaign in April 1970. David Johnson went to Brisbane, Australia in June 1969, and Art Walker went to Calgary in August 1971.
The campaign in Hamilton was in August 1970. Rosalie Jones worked full time in the office. Sixty-six campaign workers set up one hundred plus Bible studies. There were twenty-one baptisms. Ron Laugherty was the speaker for the campaign, and Jerry Cox was the song leader.
In June 1972 Bert and Muriel (Whitelaw) Thompson from Windsor, Ont. began work at Fennell. David Johnson accepted the position of Administrator of the Grove Park Home in Barrie, Ont. and in October 1972 he moved to Barrie.
In June 1973 Randy Morritt began work at Fennell. He married Lois Hunstman July 14, 1973. Randy conducted a very successful V.B.S. in August 1973. He was here two years before going to Port Colbourne Ont. in June 1975. He would return many times in the next 25 years to preach Sundays, when Fennell was without a full time minister. He estimates about 8 years off and on at Fennell.
In October 1975 the Bus Program was about to be launched. Much door knocking was done. By the summer of 1976 fifty-five children were riding the "Joy Bus". Wayne Page and Don Snure were in charge of the bus program. They painted the bus and Don spent many hours painting the church name on the bus.
Sunday school enrollment reached 155, with classes from beginners to Adult III. Wed. night enrollment was 92, 47 children from non-Christian homes. Many home Bible studies were in progress. Several families were converted as a result of the bus program.
In Sept 1975 Bert Thompson moved to the London area. We were without an evangelist for a year.
Bryan and Susan Meneer moved to Hamilton in Aug. 1976 to begin work here. Susan had a girls training class in her home. It was a combination of fun, to-getherness, crafts, service to others, and any projects they might like to do.
The bus program grew. In 1977 there were 53 riders and 1978 picked up 70 students. By now a van and cars were needed to take care of the bus overflow.
In 1980 a new Bible Class was added - the Cradle Roll taught by Dean and Laura Wright. In the spring of 1981 a series of mini workshops to train more Bible school teachers was held, beginning with the Cradle Roll. Laura Wright taught the sample lesson. The babies were there for the class. Ideas, visual aids, songs etc. were shared. The program concluded with a potluck dinner for Bible school teachers and staff.
The Bible call program was in the planning in 1980. It is a telephone program of Bible tapes where the public could phone in, select a tape, and listen to that tape by phone. In Sept. there was a Bible call canvass blitz - 3500 brochures were printed and distributed in Hamilton, as well as Burlington and Dundas.
In 1981 the program was well on its way, and the season saw 4 conversions and some Bible studies set up. Many more followed in the coming years.
The June meeting of 1981 was held at Sir Winston Churchill High School in Hamilton.
In Oct 1981 Bob and Beth (Smart) Hibbard came to work at Fennell. Bob did follow-up work with Bible call, and correspondence courses, as well as sharing the preaching with Bryan. Bible call grew in 1982 - and in one month as many as 1,376 calls were taken. Studies were also set up.
A ladies morning Bible class began. Attendance was encouraging with many visitors. It continued until June, and resumed again in September.
The ladies held a Ladies day in April 1982. "Something Beautiful, Something Good" was a time for the older women to share what they had learned about God over the years. Keynote speakers were Maxine Timmerman (Think on these things, Phil 4:8), Marie Hibbard (My precious gifts, Titus 2:4,5), Eleanor Robinson M.D. (Thou art my Hiding Place), and Wilma Moore (This I leave you).
In March of 1983 Campaign workers came from Ohio Valley College. They did much door knocking. The purpose was to invite people to the Marriage Enrichment Film series by Carl Brecheen and Paul Faulkner which took place in April and May 1983.
In June 1983 the young girls from Grade 6 and up had a special "achievement day" and invited the congregation to come and see the crafts the girls had made at Annie's Attic. The girls served tea. Annie's Attic was a girls class that had been meeting for the past two years at "Wilma's Place". They had been learning to lead and take part in monthly devotionals. They had also been learning such practical skills as sewing, crochet, crewelwork, knitting and fancy sandwich making. Titus 2:4-5
In Oct. 1983 a young men's public training program began. The young men took turns speaking on Wednesday evenings. There were 19 baptisms in 1983.
In spite of many additions, numbers were down. In the years following young people were going off to universities in other places, or finding employment where it could be found.
Bob continued his work at Fennell until 1984.
Bryan was here until Feb. 1987.
Soon after Bryan resigned from preaching, Larry and Martha (Perry) Thomason moved to Hamilton from Brantford and Larry began his work here.
In June 1988 the ladies hosted a ladies day with a twist. The theme "Let the older women train the younger women"
1. To love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure - speaker, Doreen Ellis
2. to be busy at home, to be kind, to be subject to their husbands, - speaker, Louise Hartwigsen.
A choice of other workshops was given for the second class of both morning and afternoon classes.
The workshops were:
1. Fancy sandwiches - Wilma Moore
2. Bread - Helen Adamczyck
3. Pies - Dolly Hoover
4. Soup - Marion Hoover
5. Pampering husbands - Phyllis May
6. Positive parenting - Audrey Cox
1. Creative gift making - Charlene Jaggard
2. Quilting - Mildred Glover
3. Cross stitching - Martha Thomason, Marlene Hampshire
4. Crocheting - Madeline Cook
5. Serving others - Jacki Dennis
6. Teaching others - Kym Hibbard
Larry Thomason's stay was short, about two years, and in 1989 his motherland (U.S.A.) was calling him.
Joe and Marcia Godbout followed Larry - His stay too was short- from 1990 - 1992.
Several years following we were without a full time preacher. It was in these years that on the physical side of our operation, many renovations took place. Both the upstairs and downstairs took on a new look.
Randy Morritt did much of the preaching. Other area preachers also came to serve.
On Feb. 1, 1997 guy and Marg Stopard and daughter Tracy, moved to Hamilton. Guy began full time work.
The ladies hosted a ladies day with two of our own talented ladies doing the speaking - Beth Hibbard and Jacki Dennis.
In May 13 2000, the ladies again hosted a ladies day. The theme was (The Hands of Jesus). The guest speaker was Jana Waltman of Wichita, Kansas. The Material covered Praying Hands, Hands that Healed and Touched, The Master Servant Hand's, and Hands that Sacrificed.
A "Feed the Children" program was started and currently we have four children in Liberia, Vietnam, and El Salvador that we are supporting.
On May 26, 2001, Fennell hosted the area wide Bible Bowl, challenged by the Strathmore Church of Christ, Toronto.
Now on September 23, 2001, we celebrate a 50th Anniversary of the work started in this area.
This is an overview of some happenings at Fennell. Many spring and fall meetings were held yearly. Vacation Bible School was a yearly event so much enjoyed by so many children. The Sunday school and Wednesday evening Bible Classes for all ages are weekly. Other campaigns were held. There have been many weddings, bridal showers, many baby showers, going away parties, picnics, young people activities, other ladies days, senior activities, a yearly corn roast (since 1964) at the Burgoins, games nights, ladies monthly classes, mother & daughter evenings and sadly many funerals.
Hopefully, I have not made too many errors in writing this.