St John the Evangelist Anglican, Brussels, Ontario

St John the Evangelist Anglican, Brussels, OntarioSt John the Evangelist Church, Brussels, Ontario is part of the four point rural Parish of New Beginnings formed in 2008 in the northern portion of Huron County.   Its sister congregations are Trinity Church, Blyth (about 22 kilometers away), St. Paul's-Trinity, Wingham and St. Peter's, Lucknow.   Brussels is a farm and bedroom community of approximately 1000 people located on Huron Road 12, north of Huron Road 25 and south of Huron Road 86.

In the 1840's and 50's settlers; mostly of Scottish descent, but with English as well; began moving north of Middlesex County into the wilderness of gently rolling forests and grasslands of the Huron Tract.

The Anglican Church at Ainleyville, (named after the original landowner) was established in the summer 1860.   Church Missionaries were already there conducting regular services of Worship in the Orange Hall on Mill Street.   At the same time, services were being held in a community 10 kilometers south of Ainleyville called Walton.   In 1864 the first "Little Church" of frame construction was built and dedicated with the name of St John the Evangelist.   This building later became the Orange Hall on Thomas Street. At that time it became part of a two point parish with St George's Church, Walton.

In 1872 the first resident incumbent was appointed.   In the next few years the village was growing rapidly and the lot where the present church stands was donated.   Construction was begun in 1875 and completed in 1876 at a cost of $6,000 with an outstanding debt of $1,500.   Between 1860 and 1876, Brussels had three disastrous fires but survived them all with better and more substantial buildings erected after each catastrophe.   In the 1876 fire, it was feared that the new church was in danger.   It was after this fire that the Village installed their fire bell in the bell tower at St. John's. The church was officially opened on the 13th of August 1876, and being free of debt was consecrated on January 19th, 1894 by Bishop of Huron (Baldwin).

During the years 1897 and 1898, plans were being made for the construction of a Rectory.   This was a joint effort of St. John the Evangelist Church, Brussels and St. George's Church, Walton and when the building was ready congregation, Trinity, Blyth.

St John's has been in a variety of two to four point parishes with churches that included: St George's, Walton; St David's, Henfryn; Trinity, Belgrave and St Mark's, Auburn.   Unfortunately, all of these other churches have been closed.

On Feb. 25, 1947 St. John's church was completely destroyed by fire.   The only things saved were the Parish Registers and an Alms Basin.   Both the Presbyterian and United Churches offered the use of their facilities for services. The latter was accepted as the Methodist Church (United) members had suffered a similar disaster in 1924 and had utilized St John's for two years until their church was rebuilt.
 

A Commemorative Plaque was erected by the Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board at the Public Library, Turnberry & Mill Rd., Brussels.

THE FOUNDING OF BRUSSELS

In 1854 William Ainley purchased two hundred acres of land here on the Middle Branch of the Maitland River.   The following year he laid out a village plot which he named Ainleyville.   A post office named Dingle was opened in 1856.   The community flourished and by 1863 contained a sawmill, a grist-mill, blacksmith shops, a woollen mill and several other small industries.   In anticipation of the rapid growth that the expected construction of a branch of the Wellington, Grey and Bruce Railway would bring, Ainleyville, with a population of 780, was incorporated as a village and renamed Brussels on December 24, 1872.   Within a decade the population had increased to about 1800.


With undaunted faith and boundless energy, parishioners set to work on the clean-up job. At a congregational meeting it was unanimously decided to make plans to build again.   Members and friends of St. John's gave hundreds of man-hours of labor, thousands of dollars and millions of loving prayers to the restoration of St. John's Church.   Work was commenced before the year was out and the new church opened on July 10th, 1949.   In a tragic note related to the volunteer labour donated in the rebuilding, People's Warden John Fischer fell from scaffolding in the church and died after being rushed to hospital in London by ambulance.

St John's was re-built in the traditional Norman style with the bell tower being also the main entrance to the church which has a soaring interior, broken up by wooden beams supporting the roof.   Its design is similar to the church that burned, although the interior was made more spacious and airy.   It has large stain glass windows in both the east and west (behind the altar), given in memory of parishioners. The interior of the church is a warm cream colour, with golden stained pews and numerous wall hangings. The side altar is referred to as the "St George's Altar" as it came from St George's Church, Walton when it closed in 1960.

The current congregation have been good stewards of the property and the building.   For the 125th anniversary, new Front Doors were installed on the church.   The church has an active ACW group, as well as a small but dedicated Altar Guild. The congregation takes turn each month to clean the church and this has provided a significant help to the parish budget.   St John's has an active lay reader as well as a dedicated group of lectors who read the scriptures and lead the prayers each Sunday. There is also a small, but mighty, choir who helps in leading the singing during the worship.

St John's was in a 2 point parish Trinity Anglican, Blyth, Ontario before the current parish was formed.   There was a very good working relationship with Trinity Anglican with joint wardens and treasurers meetings held twice per year.   As well, the congregations are always willing to pitch in and help when the other needs extra hands at fundraising events.

St John's services are at 11:15 am each Sunday and the service is alternated between Holy Eucharist (1st & 3rd Sundays, Saints and Feast Days) and Morning Prayer (2nd & 4th Sundays).   Most services are now conducted out of the Green Prayer Book, but some Eucharists follow the 1962 rite in this prayer book.
 
Anglican Parish of New Beginnings