Mount Dennis United Church
The Mount Dennis congregation is not only a United Church but a uniting church. Although the origins of some of its founding congregations can be traced to the 1890's, Mount Dennis United only officially came into being with the amalgamation of the Pearen Memorial and Chalmers congregations in 1960.
Chalmers and Pearen Memorial were long time neighbours in Mount Dennis, Chalmers on the site of the current buildings and Pearen on the north side of Eglinton at Guestville Avenue. Both were vibrant, active congregations in the late 1950's when a series of circumstances led to their joining as one Church. The Pearen property was expropriated by the City for a road widening and the extension of Eglinton Avenue (which then terminated at Jane Street). And, in August of 1959, Rev. A.J. Eagle minister of Chalmers since 1939 and Mrs. Eagle were killed in a tragic auto accident. The two congregations met separately for some time and then jointly in the Pearen sanctuary while new premises were constructed adjacent to the Chalmers building. Rev. Gordon Nodwell was called to the new congregation in 1961.
Shortly after the amalgamation, and while the new buildings were in the early planning stage, the Harwood United congregation joined and its property at 274 Weston Road (south of Rogers) was sold. Although an active, resourceful congregation, Harwood remained quite small throughout its history relying most of the time on at least some mission funding from other congregations and from the Home Missions Board of the United Church. Declining membership and the opportunity of joining with a new local congregation led to the decision to close.
In 1965, the new building was completed and dedicated along with the renovated Chalmers building. Mount Dennis United became the centre for a large and active congregation and for many community events. When Gordon Nodwell moved on in 1968, the Rev. H.J.( Bert) McAvoy and his family came to lead the congregation and stayed until his retirement in 1985.
Rev. Boyce Elliott was called as Minister in 1985 and remained until forced into early retirement by illness. In 1990, he led the congregation in a special Anniversary Year with virtually weekly celebrations of the history and service of the congregation. A record of that year was published and may be seen in the Church Library.
In 1991, during the illness of Boyce Elliott, Rev. Wendy Robinson was called as part time temporary minister to the congregation and then as full time minister.
In the early 1990's the Silverthorn United Congregations began to consider options for their future. After many years of growth, they saw significant changes in the make up of the neighbourhood and a general aging of the congregation. After coming to the difficult conclusion that the congregation did not have the resources for renewal alone, the members decided to join with Mount Dennis United Church in July 1995 and to seek renewal in a wider community. At the specific request of the Silverthorn congregation, some moneys received from the sale of the Silverthorn property were to be dedicated to adding an elevator to the Mount Dennis building and otherwise improving access for the handicapped and the elderly.
Silverthorn was itself, the product of an earlier amalgamation. In 1970, after a significant decline in membership and with the accompanying financial problems, the Prospect Park United congregation decided to amalgamate with the Silverthorn United Church Congregation. That amalgamation came in to being on January 1, 1971. Thus, the current Mount Dennis United Church continues the service of five congregations in the Mount Dennis - Central York neighbourhoods. And, of course, the congregation is blessed by many members from all sorts of other backgrounds who have chosen Mount Dennis as their spiritual home! They are all part of our family!