Isabella Walton. Most people have never heard of Isabella Walton before, but the members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Scarborough, Ontario, certainly have; for without Isabella there wouldn’t be any Westminster Church. In 1918, Isabella started a Sunday School class for the kids in her rural community in Scarborough. She called her group the Sunbeam Mission Band, and they met in the kitchen of her farmhouse. It wasn’t long before the group outgrew Isabella’s kitchen, so with the help of the surrounding community she scraped the funds together to build another clapboard building on the property for her growing Mission Band. That building eventually became Westminster Presbyterian Church after Isabella deeded her property to The Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1958.
Today the clapboard building no longer stands. It has been replaced by a unique facility called Walton Place which houses the Isabella Walton Childcare Centre (an enduring testimony to Isabella Walton’s love of children), a 104 unit apartment building and Westminster Church itself. To mark the one hundredth anniversary of the start up of Isabella’s Sunbeam Mission Band, the church started another children’s band, this one musical, that they called the iBeams. First there was the iPod, then the iPhone, then the iPad and now… the iBeams! Who knows maybe someday soon you’ll be able to download iTunes from the iBeams! Isabella Walton died in 1961, but her light continues to shine more than 50 years later in the congregation founded through her faith and generosity.