As the clouds arose and the tempest blew …

For the first time in many years, Beaverdams United Church’s annual dedication service was not rained out! Notwithstanding, Mother Nature was determined to make her presence felt – although the high winds were not strong enough to send away the 70-odd children and adults who gathered in their lawn chairs to listen to tales of heroism and faith by stalwart Methodists in the Niagara region during the War of 1812–14.

Rev George Addison of Trinity United Church preaches to a group of 70

Rev George Addison of Trinity United Church preaches to a group of 70

Rev George Addison introduced “Rev. Ninian Holmes” (aka Rev David Pritchard of Grace United Church in Niagara-on-the-Lake) to speak about the life of a circuit rider or itinerant preacher during the War of 1812–14.

Always at risk of being viewed as less than patriotic (for not being Anglican and therefore “unquestionably” loyal to the British Crown), the Methodists living in the area around Beaverdams – many of whose families had recently arrived in the wake of the American Revolutionary War – felt particularly “vulnerable and at risk” in 1813. Indeed, the settlement was on the front lines, with with the garrison of the British forces camped at DeCew Falls in Captain John DeCew’s stone house.

Slipping out of character, Rev Pritchard recounted a story of Rev Neville Trueman,* who claimed to have carried an exhausted Laura Secord the final few miles to DeCew House. The UEL housewife infamously walked from the village of Queenston – 32 km away – to warn Lieutenant Fitzgibbon of an impending American attack that led to victory at the Battle of Beaverdams on 24 June 1813.

Rev David Pritchard of Grace United Church in NOTL poses with Beaverdams Church Board member Melanie Battell as 1813 characters "Rev Ninian Holmes" and friend

Rev David Pritchard of Grace United Church in NOTL poses with Beaverdams Church Board member Melanie Battell as 1813 characters “Rev Ninian Holmes” and friend

Beaverdams Church Community Centre Board chair Denise Bradden also provided an update of the Board’s and Friends’ progress.

* The full story is available online: Neville Trueman, the Pioneer Preacher: A Tale of the War of 1812 by William H. Withrow (1880).

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