Page 18 - Presbyterian Connection
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A Story of Hope from Knox, Bracebridge
  By the Rev. Dr. Heather Malnick, Knox Presbyterian Church in Bracebridge, Ont.
In this time of constantly changing Covid protocols, dire news stories and personal worries, comfort can be found in the timeless expressions of faith and hope. For the congrega- tion at Knox Presbyterian Church in Bracebridge, Ont., and its surround- ing community, this comfort is il- lustrated in the restoration and rein- stallation of beautiful stained-glass windows, some of which date back to before 1931 when the original church was opened on McMurray Street.
In 2013, the McMurray Street lo- cation was sold and the congrega- tion moved into its current home on Taylor Road. The antique stained- glass windows had been packed up and tucked away in a storage shed—where they remained until
just recently. With the church closed to public worship during the Covid shutdown, a few members of the congregation wondered about the structural stability of those beautiful stained-glass pieces of art and be- gan dreaming about the possibility of renewing and restoring them as a gift to the congregation and community during these most troubling days.
The windows were retrieved from the shed and laid out on tables in the church for examination. While some were deemed to be in a severe state of disrepair, others were found to be in decent shape and were just in need of some tender care. That care came from Sharon and Ken Veitch, who took on the task of gently clean- ing and then framing the windows. With help from their son, David, the stained-glass artwork was hung in the windows of the “new Knox,” just in time to greet the congregation when in-person worship services re-
sumed in the autumn of 2021.
Not only do these windows add beauty to the worship space, they also serve as reminders of those who had served the congregation and community in the past, and whose memories are now honoured through the artwork. One window in particular was crafted in memory of Roy Blain McDonald, who died at the age of 23 in 1917 while serving with the Central Ontario Regiment of the Canadian Infantry. He was buried at Pas-de-Calais, France, the site of the Vimy Memorial, but his memory is
shared in the sanctuary at Knox. Another window honours the memory of Olive Eileen Marshall who was just 11 years old when she died in 1923. Her parents, George and Eva, owned the local funeral home at the time and had the heartbreak- ing task of burying their own child. Yet another window is in memory of Margaret Shier who was the wife
Ken and Sharon Veitch in front of one of the windows they lovingly restored at Knox Presbyterian Church in Bracebridge, Ont.
of John T. Shier, co-owner of the J.D. Shier Lumber Company, one of the largest logging operations in Muskoka. And another window was dedicated to Donald McGibbon by his son Dr. Peter McGibbon, a local doc- tor and Member of Parliament. Don- ald had received the Military Cross for Conspicuous Bravery presented personally by King George.
Perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of stained-glass art depicts the story from Matthew 19:14 when Jesus invites the children to come and gather at his knee. This message of love and acceptance is perhaps what we all need during these tenu- ous times, as we honour our past, embrace our present and anticipate our future.
  Chimes Ring Out Again in Ridgetown
  The spire postcard from Mount Zion Presbyterian Church in Ridgetown, Ont.
The church bell.
Presbyterian Church. Recently repaired, the chimes are once again playing.
During the past 140 years, the bell in the church tower has played various roles in our town history. In addition to calling
daily announcement at opening, noon and closing hours. The sound organ- ized the day of the entire business section of town: for workers, shop- pers, as well as residents of most of the surrounding homes. If there were special events and parades, the toll of the bell called residents to come join in the celebration. Over many years, times changed, and its ring- ing was once again only required for church-related events.
To mark Mount Zion’s 150th An- niversary in 2005, the church youth group made plans to contribute to the event. The boys and girls participated
in swim-a-thons and walk-a-thons to raise funds. With the pledges re- ceived, they were able to purchase equipment for outdoor chimes. Their gift was presented at the 150th An- niversary event in May of that year. The church was now able to play chimes or music through speakers in the tower. Hymns were played before Sunday services and chimes marked the daytime hours for several years. Eventually wiring was changed in the sanctuary and, as a result, the chimes stopped working.
When COVID-19 forced congrega- tions to suspend in-person services, Mount Zion turned to the Rev. Jon Van Den Berg, their stated supply minister, to provide online services through the church website. The Rev. Van Den Berg used his own equipment to record services from his home and provided a link to the Mount Zion website so that the con- gregation had access to online ser- vices. Early in 2021, the Rev. Van Den Berg accepted a call to Dorchester Presbyterian Church. The Mount Zion congregation still wanted an online presence to reach people who were not comfortable resuming in-person worship, people who found it difficult to come to church and people who were searching for a church home.
Musical Strings ’n Things, a local company with lots of experience set- ting up live-streaming equipment in churches, was contacted. Their tech- nician, Brett Sansom, set up cameras and equipment in the sanctuary and trained members of the congregation to run the system.
In the process of installing the live- streaming equipment, Brett noticed that the chimes were not working. He fixed the wiring problem and set up the chimes at no cost to the church. Now they ring every half hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. The system also plays hymns before Sunday ser- vices and during the seasons of the church calendar like Advent.
Because of its location in the cen- tre of town, in 1889, Mount Zion’s bell was the perfect choice to notify the people of Ridgetown of the routines of the workday and emergencies. Spurred on by a desire to contribute to the 150th Anniversary celebrations in 2005, the Sunday School raised funds for the purchase of outdoor chimes. When the present-day con- gregation wanted to reach out with an online presence, once again the chimes received new life. Through- out the history of the church, Mount Zion has communicated God’s pres- ence in their community.
Submitted by Mount Zion Presbyterian Church in Ridgetown, Ont.
Residents of Ridgetown, Ont., may have noticed melodious sounds com- ing from the bell tower of Mount Zion
out a welcome to church services and occasions, it also served as the Ridgetown Fire alarm for many years.
In 1889, the town fathers arranged for it to be used as Ridgetown’s “Town Bell.” As a result, it rang out a

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