Most people have never heard of Isabella Walton, but the members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Scarborough, Ontario, certainly have. Without Isabella, their church wouldn’t exist! In 1918, Isabella started a Sunday School class for children in her rural Scarborough community. 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 aclapboard 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 It has been replaced by a unique facility called Walton Place which houses the Isabella Walton Childcare Centre (an enduring testimony to Isabella Walton’s love of children), a 104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 Isabella’s Sunbeam Mission Band, the church started another children’s band, this one musical, that they called the iBeams. Isabella died in 1961, but her light continues to shine almost 60 years later in the congregation founded through her faith and generosity. Isabella Walton’s light will continue to shine far into the future, an enduring testimony to her faith and generosity.
Fun Fact: The clapboard building is pictured in a stained glass window that shines its light into Westminster’s sanctuary during the day and out onto the street at night. Should you visit Westminster Presbyterian, take a close look at the building depicted in the stained-glass. You’ll ﬁnd that there is a structure behind the image of the original Sunbeam Mission Band clapboard house — the outhouse! As far as we know, it is the only outhouse pictured in a stained glass window anywhere in Canada, maybe the world.
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