Program for the Grand Bend United Church Centennial Pageant
Mary (Blewett) Alderson found this Grand Bend United Church Centennial Pageant Program in November 2014, as she was sorting and packing to move from Strathroy back to Grand Bend. Mary is in possession of her parents', the late Bill & Hazel Blewett's diaries, and this program was in a drawer with them. The Blewetts lived on highway 21 south of Grand Bend and were members of the United Church from 1955 to about 1983. The history of the church was presented as a play, organized by the UCW as a project for Canada's Centennial in May, 1967.
"I remember my mother having meetings with some playwrights from Sarnia, and working with several of the UCW ladies collecting the histories of the Grand Bend churches. I also recall rehearsals in the church basement, but the actual pageant was performed at the Grand Bend Public School in the new gym.
I remember my Mom asking my Dad for his mortar board (not the graduation cap, but a real wooden board with a handle in the middle of the bottom for masonry) and a trowel to be used by the actors, and since she didn't have any wet cement handy, my mother made a mixture of porridge and coloured it grey with a melted black crayon, to put on the mortar board. When it was applied to the cardboard corner stone during the play, it caused the cardboard to become wet and collapse.
GBUC Centennial Pageant
May 26th, 1967
My family and I were always members of the Grand Bend United Church and traveled
from the farm to attend. There was a white brick building...perhaps a form Methodist Or Presbyterian church over on Highway 21,near the cemetery and Pete Eisenbach's home, that became the United Church when the two amalgamated.
We attended there while the new Grand Bend United Church was being built on Main Street.
We attended some outdoor services in the summer to accommodate extra people and this may have been before the new church was ready, as well as after.
Outdoor Summer Services in Grand Bend
“The Green Cathedral” at H.S.U.C.
In 1927, the present Grand Bend United Church was built. The church consisted of Presbyterians and Methodists. A number of congregations came together to form the present charges at Grand Bend and Greenway (formerly called Boston).
About 1900, a third religious group, a gathering of campers, was formed in Grand Bend. Originally this group met on the beach, and was organized by the Huston family from Exeter and their friends. Each summer the group increased in numbers. Around 1925 the group began hiring prominent ministers to preach, and Mr. Charles Gibbs offered the group his shady grove, later known as Gibbs Park.
When the Presbyterians and Methodists began to make plans for a new United Church, they favoured the erection of a building on the former Presbyterian Church site at the north end of Grand Bend. The Presbyterian minister, Mr. Grant, realized there should be a larger union to include the campers on a central site. The proposal was put to the campers and they agreed to join the new congregation at the location. When land was purchased for the church, extra property was obtained to provide space for the Summer Services.
In 2014, Grand Bend-Greenway Pastoral Charge amalgamated and became Huron Shores United Church. In 2016, the Renewal Project commenced, adding an addition and total renovation of the historic building, preserving the Green Cathedral and making the facility accessible to all.
The tradition of outdoor Summer Services in Grand Bend started in 1900, and continues to the present time. Visitors and regular church members look forward to this unique form of worship.