A Brief History

The earliest history of Sheffield United Church begins with the story of the man who founded the village of Sheffield, Rev. John A. Cornell. Cornell grew up in Dutchess County and Columbia County, New York, but at the age of 18 migrated to Upper Canada. He came first to Beverly Township (near Christie's Corners), and then Waterloo Township. In 1809 he relocated along what is now Highway 8 to Beverly Township, to the heart of the future village of Sheffield.


Cornell started out as a pioneer farmer, but leading up to the year 1812, he underwent a dramatic religious awakening, and in 1812 became an independent preacher. He held church services in his home and barn, and preached in many locations in Beverly Township, Waterloo Township, and beyond. In 1834, the first church building was constructed at the present site of the Sheffield United Church.



Methodist preachers had been active in Upper Canada since the 1780s, and a following of the British Wesleyan branch had developed in the Sheffield area, which was serviced by preachers based from St. George. In 1846, the Sheffield Methodist congregation built a stone church just west of the village.  In 1891, they built a larger, red brick building in the village.   


In 1854, John A. Cornell advised his independent congregation at Sheffield to join the United Brethren in Christ denomination. After 42 years as a preacher, Cornell was nearing the end of his life and wished to see his congregation continue under the guidance of a denomination with similar doctrines. When his congregation accepted, they became the first United Brethren church in Canada. In 1894, the United Brethren congregation built a new church of stone (the present United Church). In 1916, this congregation joined the Presbyterian Church of Canada.



In 1925, both the Methodists and Presbyterians in Sheffield voted to join with each other in the new United Church of Canada (with the exception of a large minority of the Sheffield Presbyterians). The new United Church congregation chose to worship in the stone church, and the Methodist brick church was eventually sold to the Presbyterian group.







A New History Book - "The First Churches of Sheffield" - Is Now Available for $20!
 This is really three books in one. It includes:
-John A. Cornell's "First Church of Beverly", which has been out of print for nearly a century.
-Rev. John A. Cornell's book from 1825, which is a very rare book with only one original copy known to exist.
-A new history of the Sheffield United Church (including the Methodists), which is all based on current research. Available at Settlers Supplies, 1139 Settlers Road, Sheffield, On. (M-Fr 8-5:30, Sat 8-4),
or by mail order (email to place order).

Our 200th Anniversary Celebrations

Historical Ministers
For a list of our past minsters and some biographical information click here
 


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