On the 3rd of May, 1959, Northminster Church was on the march, 300 strong, young families with lots of exuberant children. They poured out of Queen Elizabeth school and paraded to a field on Sunset Blvd. to turn the sod for the building of a new church.
Since 1954 George St. United Church had been renting space in Queen Elizabeth to hold Sunday School for children living in the newly-annexed and fast-growing north part of Peterborough. The name, George Street United Church North End Sunday School desperately needed shortening. Charles (W. Charlton) McBride, first Sunday School superintendent came up with the name Northminster.
On January 3, 1958, Northminster United Church held its first worship service with a previously retired minister, Dr. William E. Wright. On March 30, Peterborough Presbytery formally constituted Northminster United Church with 213 charter members.
Pictures of the sod-turning event in May feature Maude Wright with the shovel. Dr. Wright is notably absent, in hospital at the time. But pictures of the dedication of the new building on Nov. 1, 1959 (todays Christian Education wing) show Dr. Wright symbolically knocking on the door as the congregation marches into its new church.
Northminster's march soon became a gallop. A year later, Sunday School attendance had reached a record 267. Scouts, Cubs, Mission Band, Exploreres, C.G.I.T., Hockey and Hi-C were all up and running. A women's federation organized in March of 1958 was divided into 12 groups. Soon after the opening of the church, the women put on a Saturday night dessert and coffee party. An amazing 950 people waited in line to get in.
By the early 1960's it was evident that Northminster needed to build its main sanctuary. Rev. Donald E. Tansley turned the sod on November 20, 1966. On June 4, 1967, the completed church was dedicated. Reverend Wright, now 82, was present for the ceremony.
The march goes on but to an ever changing tune. Sometimes the music is harsh as we trip and struggle to land on our feet. For a time financial troubles found us with an interim minister, members of the congregation doing the janitorial work learning how to re-build strength. As the years go by, some marchers drop out, others pass away and new faces join.
The photo of the 1959 march to the Northminster lot is an image of young energy moving in a world that had cast off doubt. With a world war won, the future was ours to do with it as we liked. Now in a new millennim we march to a different drummer, no longer so sure of ourselves, not even sure we can save our earth. While the challenge changes, the mandate remain the same: to march in the light of God.