Dorchester United Church had its beginnings in 1856 in a one room school house in what was then known as Frampton. The early church followed Wesleyan Methodist religious practice and formed a circuit of fourteen points. Although Dorchester always remained as a central point, there were many other places that formed part of the circuit such as Belmont, Mannings Wesley, Mossley, Crossley-Hunter, Brall Salem, Victoria, Ebenezer, Avon Crampton, Yarmouth, Pardys, Nilestone, Harrietsville, Banner, Putnam and until June 2013, Crumlin.
The first formal church was built in 1862, and a manse in 1870 at a cost of $1000. On May 24, 1889 our present church building was officially opened and a sealed bottle was placed in the corner stone. In 1914 electric lights were illuminated for the first time in the church, the power turned on by Sir Adam Beck! Lady Beck sang a solo at the service.
The nature of the church's religious affiliation changed in 1925 with church union, creating the United Church of Canada. The local Presbyterian congregation joined as well, and for two years there were two United Churches in Dorchester, but in 1927 an attempted amalgamation of the two churches failed and the Presbyterian Church did not join the Union.
Women's organizations have always played a very important part in the life of our church. In the early days the Women's Missionary Society and the Women's Association were the two primary groups. They later joined to form the United Church Women. The women of these groups played an incalculably large role in the life of the church. "A History of the Church" describes some of their work: "the turkey suppers in the fall catered by the W.A. and held in the Community Hall serving about 400… all the dishes, etc. had to be carried over from the church to the Hall… cabbage salad was made in wash-tubs. We will leave it to your imagination how these women managed to set tables, wash dishes and serve all those people." The proud tradition of dedicated service continues to this day!
In 1962 a new Christian Education Hall was built and the basement overhauled to improve kitchen facilities and provide plentiful hot water. In 1998 the elevator, new office and storage room were dedicated, made possible through a generous donation by Peter and Inga Longfield.
From the church's beginnings many outstanding and dedicated people have contributed to the vital and active life of our congregation, perhaps none so much as Miss Hattie Rath, the organist for 63 years. She was indeed a good and faithful servant! So many people and events have comprised and nurtured the faith and fellowship life of the church; dedicated elders, clerks of session, chairs of stewards, trustees, treasurers, Sunday School staff, organists and choir members, custodians, secretaries and clergy. There have been many celebrations of anniversaries, weddings, baptisms and retirements, as well as celebrations of the lives of our dearly beloved as we have said farewell to them as they have gone to meet their God.
Most recently, upon the closing of Crumlin United Church, a beautiful stained glass window, was refurbished and installed in our sanctuary, along with many artifacts, including the honour rolls, alter and a lovely cabinet filled with items. A number of former Crumlin members now attend our church. The bell tower has been repaired, the brickwork refurbished and a new sound system has been installed.
The faith life of our church continues to be led by the Spirit in a variety of exciting and engaging ways, and we continue to be blessed by so many people who offered the gifts which God has given them to the life of the church. At age over 150 Dorchester United Church , blessed with a rich heritage passed down from our ancestors, continues to live out its faith both within its walls and out into the world, facing the inevitable challenges which along with grace, fortitude and a strong desire to do God's will.