Rev. Dr. Chester Searles and his wife Janice
Rev. Dr. Chester Searles and his wife Janice

BME church re-dedicated for 169th birthday

By Admin Wednesday March 19 2014 in News
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A church with a long history in the city was re-dedicated last Sunday.


Christ Church-St. James British Methodist Episcopal Church, which is celebrating its 169th birthday, has been refurbished in the last year.


The flooring was replaced, the pulpit widened and the balcony repaired as part of the six-month renovation that cost nearly $25,000.


Janice Searles, the wife of the pastor, Dr. Chester Searles, led the fundraising drive committee that included Vashti Mascoll, Eureka Gibbons and Joycelyn Jackson.


Church members raised funds while members of the community and area businesses contributed to the refurbishment.


“Everybody chipped in to help out,” said Rev. Searles who has been at the church for just over two years. “The congregation is happy with the way things look inside and we now have some space to do extra things like put on after-school programs for young people in the neighbourhood.”


Established in 1845 as a place of devotion for Blacks who did not feel comfortable worshipping in mainstream churches, members assembled at 94 Chestnut St. for almost 105 years until the congregation could no longer maintain the building.


Granted use to share space with the Afro-Community Church at 460 Shaw St., the two congregations amalgamated a few years later and worshipped under the administration of Revs. Thomas Jackson and Alexander Markham.


After the building at 460 Shaw St. was destroyed by fire in April 1998, members worshipped at various churches until a new home was found in October 2001 at the current location at 1828 Eglinton Ave. West.



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