Munster Church History

This brief history of Munster United Church includes excerpts from “Waymarks and Guideposts, Ashton United Church” compiled by Dorothy Lewis. The book of 238 pages discussed the churches that had evolved into the Ashton-Munster Pastoral Charge. This book is available from Irma Willoughby at the Ashton United Church. As well, a copy is available at Munster Church.

Munster United Church is one of the two churches in the Charge along with Ashton United.  In recent history, until 2004, we were a three point Charge along with Prospect United Church.

Munster Church started out as a Methodist Congregation. The first visit by a Methodist circuit rider to Goulbourn Township occurred in 1819 as part of the Augusta Circuit. This circuit encompassed a large area from Prescott to Kingston and as far north of the Saint Lawrence as there were settlers. In the next year all the country on the Rideau River (Merrickville to Hull on the Ottawa River) was cut off to form the Rideau Circuit.

Munster Congregation counts its beginning in 1823 when Ezra Healy was the visiting minister. The first church built was a log structure located near Munster on the Shillington property. On August 22, 1849 John and Ann deeded property to the Trustees of the Wesleyan-Methodist Church in Canada. The Walling’s map of Carleton County dated 1873 shows the old Methodist church built beside the cemetery while the Carleton county atlas of 1879 shows only the cemetery.

In 1877 the Trustees of the Munster congregation of the Methodist Church purchased land from Thomas Shillington on which they planned to build a church. A new brick church was built in Munster, being completed in 1879 at the cost of over $3,000. A major setback to the congregation occurred on the evening of Saturday, January 6th, 1894 before a choir practice when woodwork in the building caught fire from a nearby stove. In very short time the fire was out of control and the building was lost. However, the Bible, pulpit (still in use), and organ were able to be carried out in time.

The Almonte Gazette reported on January 14, 1895 of a large number attending the meetings held at Munster last week in the connection with the opening of the new Munster Church there. The Munster congregation continued regular worship there celebrating its 100th anniversary in 1923.

The year 1925 saw a major change for the congregation with the formation of the United Church of Canada. After many years of active discussions between Congregational, Methodist, and Presbyterian denominations the United Church of Canada was formally inaugurated on June 10, 1925.

Additions and changes to the building have taken place over the years including:

  • installation of a memorial window in the front of the church in 1930. Additional stain glass memorial windows were installed in the sanctuary window areas,
  • installation of hydro electric service in 1945 followed by a furnace in 1948,
  • presentation and dedication of a baptismal font in memory of Bert Garland,
  • in 1971 hook up to the water and service mains, made possible by the start of the housing development by J. W. Johannsen,
  • commencement of the excavation of the basement in 1972,
  • addition of a set of brass candle sticks, an altar cross,
  • installation of an electronic Rogers organ in 1988, and
  • construction of an access ramp for the mobility impaired was undertaken in 1990. This was possible as a result of a generous donation from the Orange Lodge.

The congregation has heard interesting speakers and presentations at Anniversary and special services. For example, the Rev. Anne Squire, former moderator of the United Church of Canada, spoke at the 1993 anniversary service. The school band from Glace Bay High School played at a special service in 1987 and the South Carleton High School Band (Richmond, Ont.) played at anniversary in the same year.

If you have an interest in additional details or more information about Munster United Church, it is recommended that you obtain a copy of “Waymarks and Guideposts, Ashton United Church“. It contains a wealth of information about Munster Church, other churches in the area, happenings in the area since 1818, and many family member names who have contributed to the development of the churches and their communities.