A global Pandemic had just ended when flames ravaged a landmark site in Milford.
Fast forward a century and another global pandemic is upon Prince Edward County and altering the best laid plans of many of its citizenry and institutions.
The Congregation of St. Phillip’s Anglican Church in Milford are hopeful they will be able to celebrate the centennial of the reopening of the sanctuary after nearly all was lost in a blaze that was recounted in the September 11, 1920 edition of the Picton Gazette.
“The burning of St. Phillip’s Anglican Church of Milford means the loss of one of the old landmarks of that village erected many years ago (Believed to be 1849) and had long been the church of Anglicans of this vicinity. The Fire started in the belfry immediately after being hit by lightening. Owing to the lack of water and fire fighting appliances, it spread to the main building which was soon in flames.
The memorial tablets, alter and ornaments were saved, but everything in the vestry was lost including the register, Bible, hymn and prayer books, alter linens, vessels, fonts, etc. The Rector and wardens desire to thank all who assisted in saving the contents of the church at the time of the fire.”
According to a first hand account in other documentation, a young man recalled firefighters heaving pews and other items through the stained glass windows as measures were taken to save a much materials as possible.
A new church was built upon the same site and, marking a tribute to the dedication of the parishioners and their everlasting faith, services resumed under officiant Rev. J. Tooke in November of that same year.
It’s that continuance of Christian faith practiced in the Anglican vein that’s kept the Parish of Marysburgh which includes both St. Phillips and St. John’s in Waupoos conducting worship services and serving the community for a century.
“We’re extremely hopeful to host large celebration in honour of the laying of the cornerstone and the resumption of services one hundred years ago November 14, 1920,” St. Phillip’s congregate Paula Walker told the Gazette.
The congregation numbers and volume at St. Phillip’s mirrors the trends of other church demographics across the rural parts of Canada but while the numbers of parishioners have ebbed, the church (in non-COVID-19 times) still has it usual supper gatherings, rummage sales and the main stay canoe trip down the Black River.
A century and a day after St. Phillip’s rising out of the ashes of a near devastating fire, a reunion service of celebration is being planned for Sunday Nov. 15, 2020.
“We have some very big plans and we are hopeful that we can host a gathering on that day but as of right now, the Anglican churches aren’t open at all,” Walker explained. “We’re hopeful that services will resume in September but everything we have in the works is contingent on the Anglican Diocese of Ontario and what the public health parameters are at that time.”
While RSVP’s have been sent out to current and former congregation members and past church leaders, part of the celebration calls for the Right Reverend Bishop Michael Oulton to preach at the Nov. 15 service.
“It was a Bishop that came on Nov. 14, 1920 that helped lay the cornerstone that day so it’s a nice connection to the Diocese,” Walker added.
The three celebratory committees formed for the event continue to plan and the church will make an announcement as the centennial date draws near.