Kenmuir's History


Presently Under Reconstruction

While Kenmuir was officially organized as a Baptist Church in 1950, the work really began in Cooksville in 1946. A returning war veteran, Reverend Bernard Jeffery, pastor of Long Branch Baptist Church, saw the need for a Baptist work in Cooksville. A Toronto Baptist Seminary student, Norman Howe, at Mr. Jeffery's suggestion, investigated the possibility of a Sunday School. Rental of premises, however, proved prohibitive. On a visit to the Freeland's nursery to buy shrubs and to discuss the proposed venture, Dr. T. T. Shields pointed out the possibilities of an old garage of the Freelands. "There's your Sunday School," he said. "Clean it up." Thus began what we have today.

To say things have changed in Cooksville would be an understatement. In 1946 there were fewer than twenty homes on Hurontario Street between Dundas Street and the Queen Elizabeth Way. The nearest hospital was in Toronto, as was the nearest Grade 13 class. Wells and septic tanks were the rule. Post war car production was not yet in full swing. And $1500 for a building lot was still a lot of money in this sleepy hollow.

Sensitivity to opportunities to interest others in Christ is essential for the establishment and growth of a church. This seems to be a mark of the infant Kenmuir. Not only was there regular visitation, but members seemed quite ready to reach out to others wherever they had opportunity.

The support of neighboring churches was very instrumental to Kenmuir in the early days also. From the beginning, Long Branch and the Union of Regular Baptists were direct in their encouragement. Long Branch donated many useful items of furniture, and the Union contributed close to $5000 in support of pastoral workers. Friends from Long Branch continued to pray together with the folk at Cooksville for about three years in the Freelands' home.

Thus the foundation for Kenmuir was begun. The garage became too small and for winter services the Freelands re-arranged their living room to accommodate sometimes seventy people. How far things could have progressed without the Freelands is hard to say, for their generosity, energy, acceptance of inconvenience, and general willingness really fortified the work in these early years. And this spirit appears typical of those who joined the effort. Small wonder then that it grew.

In 1947 the Orange Hall became available for $5 per Sunday. A student at Toronto Baptist Seminary, Mr. McWilliams, came to serve about this time, staying until spring 1948 when he left to preach the Gospel in Quebec. Eugene and Vera Paras assisted the work while awaiting their departure for Bolivia. The group continued to grow in number.

In 1949, when the Middletons came, the work was still a loose weekly gathering. It was under George Middleton that the development as a Baptist Church took place. On September 24th, 1950 the work was named Cooksville Baptist Church. At this time no affiliation was settled. Baptists remained somewhat disorganized following the earlier withdrawal of many churches from the "Convention". This withdrawal was caused by the introduction of Liberal theology into McMaster Seminary, the local Baptist training college. As yet, the Fellowship was not formed and many churches were without affiliation of any sort. Cooksville Baptists, like many others, debated the issue without resolution. The remark "I don't want to be a Baptist, I just want to go to church!" strikes us humorously, but perhaps accurately portrays the prevailing mood. We do need reminding that the Kingdom of God transcends and obliterates private distinc-tions. The Middletons, with great energy and zeal, gave Kenmuir definite shape.

With the departure of the Middletons to Ethiopia in October 1950, Mr. and Mrs. George White came to the church. Mr. White, recently graduated from Toronto Baptist Seminary, came to Cooksville Baptist at a time when it had taken on fairly settled shape. The congregation, anxious to establish itself, began to consider building. The Union of Regular Baptist Churches was unable to help in building, so the people made their own effort.

In 1952 the decision to buy property on Kenmuir Avenue was made. The official opening of the church took place on May 2, 1954. Immediately following, not only was the name changed to Kenmuir Avenue Baptist Church, but affiliation with the "Fellowship" was completed at the recognition service on July 15th, 1954.

Having now a definite identity, Kenmuir moved into a new phase of growth. Membership increased, although exact figures are not known. Kenmuir supported Miss Lila Inglis in Guadeloupe from September 1952 until July 1954 when she returned and was married.

Mr. White's leadership was now directed to building people. A teacher by profession, he pastored the church on a part time basis until his resignation in December 1956.

In September 1957 Pastor Beverly Ward began as Kenmuir's first full time pastor. A condition of his coming was that the church involve itself in a program of building expansion. Accordingly, in 1959 an architect proceeded on the design and the present building was opened on December 4th, 1960 at a cost of $130,000. The church had had to relocate to nearby Carmen Drive, as the lot at Kenmuir Avenue was not large enough. (Thus the word "Avenue" was dropped from Kenmuir's name.) Mr. Ward was an energetic man and the church membership grew from 34 to 168 before his resignation in 1964.

Vacancies are usually anxious times in churches. Following Mr. Ward's departure the church was well served by its officers.

Mr. Ross Lyon came as the second full time pastor in November 1965. During his ministry the membership increased to a peak of 225 in 1969. There was instituted a ten week fall visitation campaign, annual missions and Bible teaching conferences. Toward the end of his ministry, several families were released to begin another church in Erin Mills. Also during his ministry, the Blair family was sent out as missionaries to Pakistan. Mr. Lyon resigned in March 1970, expressing the desire for further studies.

The third pastor, Gordon Rumford, came as interim pastor in December 1970, but was fully appointed in April 1971. Mr. Rumford's preaching was of consistently high calibre. During his ministry the church indebtedness was reduced from $40,000 to zero. Also during his ministry the church, through the initiative of Jack Richardson, one of the deacons, produced a booklet about Jesus Christ Superstar. The response was immediate and extensive with 15,000 copies being distributed outside the promoting theatre in Toronto.

In 1973 Pastor Rumford baptized thirty one people. Conversions were few, but delightfully real. Seven of our young people in 1974 entered Bible related studies either at the college or university level.

In September 1975 Pastor Rumford felt led, for family reasons, to reassess his role in ministry and resigned from his position. There followed a two year search for a full time pastor.

In 1977 Mr. A. (Ed) Lugtenburg accepted the church's call. The church grew under Pastor Lugtenburg's ministry, administrative and leadership functions were revitalized, the Share program and Family Night program were initiated and a time of blessing ensued. There were 15 baptisms. In 1981, Pastor Lugtenburg resigned to accept a call to another ministry.

This along with job transfers, relocating, and other factors caused Kenmuir to suffer a drop in attendance and membership. Those who remained re-grouped and pursued the mandate of the Church of Jesus Christ.

In 1982 Edward W. F. Searle accepted Kenmuir's invitation. His ministry of the Word and leadership in the areas of love and caring provided the base for consolidation and growth in the membership to 75 in 1985. Under his guidance the Deacon Caring Program was introduced. His recognition of the need for the church to have a more positive and effective ministry to the young marrieds, youth and children encouraged the church in a step of faith under God to obtain help in this area and begin the search for an assistant pastor.

Soon after, the search was successful in turning up Richard Long. During the three years he served as Assistant Pastor at Kenmuir, the youth and college and career groups were encouraged greatly, experiencing growth and renewal.

Also during Pastor Searle's leadership, the people of Kenmuir donated thousands of dollars, and many hours of prayer, to the Bell family for the treatment of their youngest daughter's life-threatening disease. As a consequence of this aid, little Suzy and her mom, Jean, were able to go to Germany where Suzy received treatment which saved her life.

In January 1989 Pastor Searle resigned to serve elsewhere. At this time the membership numbered 69, with an average attendance of 100 on Sunday mornings.

Pastor Stephen Semple became our pastor June 1989 when Lakeshore Baptist Church joined Kenmuir. Kenmuir was blessed in particular by his gift of teaching. Under his direction Kenmuir had mid-week Bible studies, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, prayer group meetings, and Saturday night youth ministry, in addition to Sunday morning and evening services.

While Pastor Semple was at Kenmuir he worked with/mentored six student pastors is succession: Dan Collison; Alain Vitela-Campos; George Wallingford; Ron Mahler; then Darin Martin; and finally Grant Waters. He also mentored one of our members, Jim Bell, who even today provides leadership to the youth, and who is now a graduate of Heritage Baptist College. During this time, the church was involved in various community outreach projects.

During Pastor Semple's time at Kenmuir, plans were made to improve the building, starting with the very large window at the back of the church. In just over ten months $22,000 was raised and the new window was installed. Encouraged by the church's support, further major improvements were considered, for example upgrading the electrical system, new lighting in the sanctuary, and other upgrades. A consensus to proceed could not be secured, however.

Pastor Semple announced he would be leaving Kenmuir to take a position elsewhere. Subsequent to Pastor Semple's leaving in July 1999, a Pulpit Committee was formed to take on the search for a new pastor. The leadership then asked a retired pastor in our midst to act as our interim pastor.

The congregation experienced a revived sense of unity and purpose. Tithes and offerings increased, attendance improved, new families joined the church, and there were also a few baptisms. The long-needed renovation of the kitchen was completed. In Spring 2001, church membership was approximately 80, with attendance of roughly 100.

A Project 2000 Committee has spear-headed the painting of the foyer, church offices and youth building; the purchase of a new lighted church identification sign; plans to make the building more wheelchair accessible; and the re-introduction of plans for other improvements which were previously on-hold, i.e. upgrading the electrical system to meet current and future needs, new lighting for the sanctuary, and air conditioning. Also, this committee has begun the repair and reconditioning of the church's forty one window frames, enlisting church members to help.

The church continued to support an extensive home and foreign mission program.

We recognize that this is God's grace extended at a time of significant need. We must continue to prayerfully seek His will and direction for Kenmuir, and must be vigilant to be active where He directs. We know for certain that all Christians are called to invite others to know Christ. We at Kenmuir are recommitting to make ourselves, God's people, more fitting and willing to fulfill our mandate of "Reaching Up…Reaching Out…Reaching In."

On July 1, 2001, our search for a new Pastor ended with the beginning of Pastor Dan Collison's ministry among us. Pastor Dan, along with his wife, Denise, and their four boys joined us at Kenmuir. As a student at Toronto Baptist Seminary, Dan was serving at KBC during the time of Pastor Semple's arrival and stayed on for a time so it was a real homecoming when Pastor Collison was called to Kenmuir to be its pastor. Besides a strong knowledge of the Bible and speaking skills, Pastor Dan possessed an innovative spirit, which led to community outreach in the form of a fun fair, Bible studies at a local gym, a float in the Santa Claus parade and taking membership in the Mississauga Board of Trade to name a few.

Pastor Dan made himself available to serve the needs of the Fellowship and became well known and respected. It was with sadness that in October 2004, the congregation bade farewell to the Collisons as they responded to the Lord's leading to another church.

Dr. Gordon Freeland served as interim pastor from July 2005 - March 2006. Gord and his wife Ruth brought stability and comfort to the congregation as a godly couple concerned for the needs of people and the church. Gord spoke of his love for this church as members of his family had been instrumental in the founding of the church and they have a burden to see that Gord's work here continue on. The people became very attached to the Freelands but they graciously stepped aside as the church brought in a new pastor.

In March 2006, Rev Scott Bowman began his ministry with a strong vote of approval from the congregation. Scott is married to Carol Ann and has two sons, Samuel and Kiffen. The church had not seen an induction service in many years but we enjoyed participating in Scott's in April. Scott brought to us strong preaching and teaching abilities. Pastor Bowman enjoyed visitation and the study of the Word. The prayer group increased in numbers and we celebrated as three people obeyed the Lord by being baptised. Pastor Bowman closed out his ministry at KBC in November 2006.

In January 2009, Pastor David Emery was voted in as our new Pastor. We are excited to see Kenmuir Baptist Church continue to serve the Lord under the direction of Pastor Emery. Pastor Emery's wife Susan has joined us at Kenmuir.