History of South Nissouri Presbyterian Church from 1855 to 1967
On the fourth day of July 1855, a petition signed by 17 members and 42 adherents of the congregation in London, who were residing in West Nissouri and district, was presented to the United Prebyterian Prebytery, praying that they be organized into a separate congregation. It was unanimously agreed to disjoin the names appearing on the petition an organize the same group into a congregation to be known as the Congregation of West Nissouri.
Reverend John Proudfoot was the first minister in charge and John Gibson Sr., David Chalmers, Jas. Henderson and John Gibson Jr., the first elders. The congregation was without a settled minister until 1860 when Reverend Robart Hall was inducted to be minister of the two stations, North and South Nissouri, also Fish Creek and Biddulph. In the early years before Mr. Hall was inducted, Reverenc James Skinner of London Township, Reverend William Inglis of St. Marys, and Reverend Robert Hamilton of Downie also served the congregation as ministers.
The congregation had met in John Gibson Sr.’s home and in a schoolhouse one mile east, until a church building was built in 1860 on the present site on the 4th concession of West Nissouri. It was of timber frame construction with clapboard siding. During the ministry of Reverend David Perrie the building was bricked up about 1887, and remained thus until a basement was put under it in 1953 during the ministry of Reverenc Charles Falconer.
Reverend Hall continued as pastor of the congregation until 1881 (21 years). During his long pastorate the first manse was erected on the present site in 1869. The Goforths, including son Jonathan, who later became the great missionary to China, attended church during this period. North and South Nissouri stations were erected into separate congregations in 1865 and remained as one charge until 1925 when the question of church union separated them.
When the congregation was formed originally it was part of the Presbytery of London, but soon after was transferred to the Stratford Presbytery because of better roads and means of travel in that direction. When the congregations of North and South Nissouri were separated in 1925, South Nissouri Church, continuing Presbyterian, was linked to Kintore Presbyterian Church. This charge then became part of the London Presbytery again. In 1943 Kintore Presbyterian Church closed its doors because of failing support. The South Nissouri congregation continued alone until 1955 when a new suburban congregation, St. Lawrence Presbyterian, Huron Stree, London, was formed and joined with South Nissouri as one charge. After two and a half years together St. Lawrence wished to become self-sustaining and since that time, 1958, the South Nissouri church has been joined by Dorchester Presbyterian as one charge.
The church celebrated her centennial in 1955 with Reverend E.A. Wright, a former minister, special speaker for the occasion.
Many great events have taken place in the history of the church but perhaps none much greater have been celebrated than in December, 1966. Arthur Hannahson, son of former minister, presented a bell and tower to the church along with a splendid evening of fine choral music.
The church still is in a very healthy state, facing the same challenges her forefathers had and with the same faith and perseverance.
Written for West Nissouri Township
Centennial History by Calvin Dunn