Work is currently underway on the foundation of St. John’s United Church.
St. John’s United Church restoration project underway

A local church with a nearly two-century long history is getting some love and care this summer. Restoration work is already well underway for St. John’s United Church on Prescott Street in Kemptville. The Church’s history is long and rich. In 1831, a small 30 foot by 40 foot church was built on Clothier Street. This was the first physical location of St. John’s, though services had been previously held in church members’ homes by itinerant preachers when they visited Kemptville. 

The present St. John’s building on Prescott Street was constructed beginning in 1869. The magnificent church was constructed using traditional methods and has withstood the test of time – including a fire which destroyed the interior in 1888. 

St. John’s Board members Al Lockwood, Roger Shantz, Ian Carley and Ron Patterson discussed with the Times the current restoration work being undertaken. They explained that in April of 2022, while doing some routine cleanup inside the church, some “separation” was noticed in some of the pews that had pulled away from the wall. This separation was only by about an inch or so, but it was cause for concern. An engineering firm was hired to drill a “test hole” to see what needed to be done to ensure that St. John’s can continue serving its members for the decades ahead. 

“When we first discovered the ‘something’, not knowing what it was, and Al called the engineering company, I thought, ‘we’re sunk’,” said Ron. The news that repairs were possible came as a “game changer”, and gave Church members much-needed hope. 

After over 150 years standing, what St. John’s needs is a restoration of about 75 feet of its foundation. The church has been fundraising to help raise the estimated $100,000 needed for the repairs. To help community members understand what their dollars are supporting, the Church has a fundraising scale that shows how much foundation repair a certain dollar amount can pay for. For example, $168.00 will pay for approximately 1/8 of a foot, while fundraising dollars of $1,335.00 can pay for an entire foot. As of May, fundraising stats show that $48,458.00 had been raised. The Board members are very optimistic about how well things are moving along. “But I don’t want to jinx it,” Ron joked. 

St. John’s United Church is not just a place for worship – over the years, it has grown to become a hub for the North Grenville community. When open, the Church hosts events such as Friday Friendship Lunches, Girl Guides, the North Grenville Concert Choir, and fundraising for the Rideau Hill Camp, just to name a few of the many, many activities that find a home in the Church. The newer part of the St. John’s structure is still being used for after-service social time on Sundays. 

As much as St. John’s supports its members and countless community groups, the Church also feels the love and support of other congregations in the area. For example, another local church – St. Paul’s Presbyterian – has “bent over backwards” to accommodate the St. John’s parishioners during the restoration. St. Paul’s even changed the time of its worship service so that the St. John’s worship service could be worked into the Sunday schedule. Other churches in the area graciously offered their help as well. 

Donations to support the restoration project can be sent by e-transfer to [email protected], or by cheque payable to St. John’s United Church Kemptville, and mailed to 400 Prescott St, PO Box 340, Kemptville, ON K0G1J0. If you provide your name and full address, a tax receipt will be issued for your donation. The hope is for St. John’s United Church to reopen sometime in August.  


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