The Amalgamation of the Wesley-Willis and Ontario Street United Churches

From the Report of the Unity Committee to the Official Boards of Wesley-Willis / Holmesville and Ontario Street United Churches — September 15, 2005

Following its initial meeting in January 2004 the committee had several meetings that culminated in a workshop led by Mr. Peter Scott of London Conference a year later. Following a vote at each church’s annual meetings in January 2005 the committee was given a mandate of exploring the practical aspects of a union between the two Clinton churches and suggesting a possible framework for a new two-point charge for the Clinton and Holmesville community.

Work was started by joining worship services, establishing joint Pastoral Care / Worship / Music and Christian Education / Sunday School committees and a joint choir. This served to iron out some of the processes of working together and allowed the two congregations to combine for that purpose; we got to know one another better.

The committee then started to explore the procedures required for union of the charges and churches. A detailed examination of four key areas was the focus of the deliberations:

BUILDINGS – Research different building uses, obtain engineering inspection reports.

ORGANIZATION – Research different organizational models of church administration.

PROGRAMS – Research staffing needs during amalgamation process, review current programming including outreach, look at programming areas to eliminate or enhance as well as new areas.

FINANCE – Investigate how to separate costs of charge, research different models of determining proportional costs.

The various subcommittees have completed a great deal of the groundwork required for amalgamation and a summary of the various subcommittee reports is attached. It is now time for the respective churches to decide whether to proceed with amalgamation. We feel the future viability of the United Church in Clinton is a single congregation that will contribute to the Clinton community.

A congregational vote was held at both churches on Feb. 12 2006 and amalgamation was firmly supported. At their regular meeting on Feb. 28 2006, Huron-Perth Presbytery also approved the amalgamation, effective June 1 2006.

In July 2006, Clinton United secured a contract with Julia Sinclair as our Interim Minister for a two-year period. Julia's mandate, in addition to providing pastoral care and Sunday services, is to help the congregation through this period of transition.

On March 4 2007 a congregational meeting and vote was held to choose the church building we will use. The results of the vote were to accept the recommendation of the Building Selection committee to use the former Ontario St building as our church building and to sell the former Wesley-Willis property to a suitable buyer. Also approved was a motion to strike a committee to gather artifacts, mementos and cherished items from the WW building to be incorporated into, or displayed at, the OS building.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The apostle Paul once wrote to the Corinthians “Now my brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed…” This letter is our attempt to keep everyone in our congregation informed of decisions that have been taking place as we work our way through this time of change and transition.

Perhaps by now you will have heard that the vote recommending that the Ontario Street location be the site of Clinton United Church passed by a margin of 149 in favour to 47 opposed. The vote recommending that the Wesley-Willis building be sold to a suitable buyer was passed with 131 in favour and 6 opposed. The vote recommending the creation of a committee to gather items from Wesley-Willis to incorporate into the Ontario Street building passed with 126 in favour and 8 opposed with 3 spoiled ballots.
— Letter to Congregation March 15, 2007

As a result of these decisions by the congregation, a special Board meeting was called to determine some future plans.  After careful consideration, the following was decided:

1. Service Rotation  - the current system of rotating places of worship will continue until the end of June 2007.  This means, worship will be held at Wesley-Willis in April and June and at Ontario Street in May.  Beginning July 1, all services of worship will take place at the Ontario Street location.

2. Weddings and Funerals – all weddings and funerals will take place at the Ontario Street location beginning July 1 with the exception of one wedding which was arranged before the vote on March 4.

3. Minister’s and Secretary’s Office – the process of housing the secretary and minister at the Ontario Street location begins in July.  Over the summer months, files, desks, and other office equipment will be moved from Wesley-Willis to Ontario Street.

4. Artifacts and Furnishings – people interested in serving on the Committee to gather and incorporate items from Wesley-Willis into the Ontario Street location are invited to leave their names with Steve Hearn, chair of our Board, or Marilyn Seebach, the secretary. 

5. Appointment of New Trustees – a congregational meeting will be held on Sunday May 1 to appoint new members to the Board of trustees to fill the vacancies created by the retirement of two of our trustees.

We know that these were not easy decisions to make, nor are they likely easy decisions to hear.  We ask for your patience and your prayers as we continue this journey of amalgamation.

A special service of worship was held at the end of June 2007 to commemorate the good and faithful service of the Wesley-Willis building. In the fall of 2007, an offer to purchase the church was made by Heartland Community Church who have been renting the building for several years. The offer was accepted and approved by Presbytery later in the fall.