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Sunday, September 21, 2014
 
 
Interior of the original BME Church  photo courtesy of the McCurdy Collection at the Archives of Ontario
 

In 1834 the American Methodist Episcopal Church was first established in Canada in 1834. Church members were required to travel across the border, to America, on a regular basis to attend conferences and functions. As the environment became increasingly hostile to both free blacks and fugitive slaves in the Northern States it became unsafe for members to venture across the border.

Interior of the original BME Church – photo with permission of the BME Church Windsor Windsdor / McCurdy Collection at the Archives of Ontario  

The fear of being captured and forced into slavery in the South was a very real one.

 
Bishop Willis Nazrey  Photo Courtesy of the McCurdy Collection at the Archives of Ontario
 
Bishop Disney  Photo Courtesy of the McCurdy Collection at the Archives of Ontario

Bishop Willis Nazrey
Photo Courtesy of the BME Church Windsor / McCurdy Collection at the Archives of Ontario
 


Bishop Disney
Photo Courtesy of the BME Church Windsor / McCurdy Collection at the Archives of Ontario

 
Reverend Benjamin Stewart of Chatham introduced a resolution that the Methodist churches in British North America (Canada) separate from the American association and form their own church. The new church was named the British Methodist Episcopal Church in appreciation of finding a safe haven from slavery in British North America . At a conference in Philadelphia in 1856 the resolution was adopted and the new church association was founded with Reverend Willis Nazrey of Virginia as its’ first Bishop. Bishop Nazrey was followed by Bishop Disney. Both Reverend Stewart and Bishop Nazrey were interred in the Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham, Ontario.
 
107th anniversary of the BME Church  Photo Courtesy of the Windsor Star 28/10/1961)
  In 1854 the original building of the British Methodist Episcopal Church in Windsor was a wooden structure. In 1856 church members and escaped slaves began construction of a brick church on the Westside of McDougall Street near Assumption. Many of the women carried water and made bricks. The men then laid the bricks to construct the church. The trustees of the church were Wiley Reynolds, Jacob Jones and Martin P. Mitchell. From 1856 to 1963 the BME church remained an active church in it’s original location, 363 McDougall street.
Left picture: 107th anniversary of the BME Church – Photo Courtesy of the Windsor Star 28/10/1961)
 
Ted Talbot, Norlene Caston and Andrea Shreve raise funds  Photo Courtesy of the Windsor Star 29/07/1960)
 

In the late 1950’s the redevelopment plan ‘Area No. 1’ included plans for demolition of the church. In 1954 Rev. I. H. Edwards began a campaign to raise funds to rebuild in a new location. The fundraising committee held ‘Tag Days’ to raise the required funds. Pictured left are Ted Talbot and Junior Church Aid Group members Norlene Caston and Andrea Shreve during the sixth annual

Ted Talbot, Norlene Caston and Andrea Shreve raise funds – Photo Courtesy of the Windsor Star 29/07/1960)  

‘Tag Day’ building fund drive.

 
Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new BME Church  photo courtesy of The Windsor Star 3/06/1963
 

On June 3, 1963 a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site of the new British Methodist Episcopal Church at the corner of University and Louis Avenues. James E. Watson, Mrs. Cameron H. Montrose, Rev. I. H. Edwards, Charles E. Howard, Thomas Millben and Dr. A.S. Markham gathered to turn the sod and begin construction of the new building. The congregation moved to its’current location, 685 University Avenue, in 1963.
Left picture: Ground Breaking Ceremony for the new BME Church – photo courtesy of The Windsor Star 3/06/1963

 
Membership card signed by Rev. B. Stewart in 1858  courtesy of the McCurdy Collection at the Archives of Ontario
 

Some early members of the church who maintained their membership for over 50 years included:
- President of the Church Lindon Brooks and his wife Mary of 656 Goyeau Street
- Jane Washington of Tuscarora Street
- Anne Lewis of McDougall Street
- Martha Taylor of 324 Albert Street
Left picture: Membership card signed by Rev. B. Stewart in 1858 – courtesy of the BME Church Windsor / McCurdy Collection at the Archives of Ontario

 
 
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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.

 

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