Our church - history

    We are a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

    1964-1965... Parkwood's first service took place September 20, 1964 in Parkwood Hills Public School, led by the Reverend Ron Balsdon, who served Parkwood part-time. Thirty adults and sixteen children attended. Attendance grew to 100 adults and 50 children within nine months, and Presbytery was asked to form a congregation in January, 1965. The congregation was formally erected by the Presbytery of Ottawa on February 14, 1965.

    1967... As attendance grew, a full-time minister was required and the Reverend Leslie Files was appointed by the "Mission Board" in 1967. Property at the corner of Meadowlands and Chesterton Drives, including the Mulvagh farmhouse, was purchased in 1967. That farmhouse became the manse.

    early 1970's... A building committee was formed in the early 1970's, and a building fund established. After many fundraisers and substantial donations, the church was built; the first service in the new building was held March 17, 1974. The dedication service was held April 21st of that year. Rev. Files moved to Calgary the following spring. See an interesting story about "The building that might have been".

    1975-1980... From 1975 to 1979 Parkwood was served by the Reverend William Palmer. Bill and his wife Florence came to Parkwood with two young daughters, Evelyn and Karen. During Bill's time with us, Florence decided to pursue ministerial studies herself, and enrolled at Presbyterian College, Montreal. When Florence graduated, she received a call to the Kenora Fellowship Centre, and Bill was appointed to work in native ministry in Northwestern Ontario. On the Palmers' departure, Rev. James Crabb was appointed interim minister. Then, in 1980 Parkwood became self-supporting and issued a call to the Reverend Floyd McPhee. Mr. McPhee was inducted September 14th of 1980.

    early 1980's... In the early 1980's the Sunday morning 11:00 a.m. service reached peak capacity. At the same time, a bible study that met at 9:30 Sunday mornings outgrew it's room and moved into the sanctuary, experimenting with formats. Some music was often added. When it became obvious that something had to be done, the session suggested the 9:30 bible study become a service, with the minister preaching, but retaining an informal character. Both organ and piano were used, with the occasional addition of guitar. A year or so later the music duties were shuffled, and the senior organist was given sole responsibility for the 11:00 service, while the pianist was made responsible for 9:30 services. Guitar continued to be used at the early service.

    mid to late 1980's... During this period, the need for an expansion became more evident. The congregation hired an architect in 1984 to propose ideas for enlarging the church building. At the same time an "expansion fund" was set up. One of the architect's suggestions was that the manse be taken over by the church, and the minister paid a housing allowance. This was done in the summer of 1987; the McPhees purchased their own house and the "manse" was renovated for use in Christian education. The kitchen became a nursery, the front porch was winterized as a pre-school room, the living room became the "fireside room" and the bedrooms upstairs were used as classrooms. This area was formally dedicated as the Fellowship Centre November 14, 1989. The addition of a ramp in 1990 made the main floor wheelchair-accessible.

    mid-1990's... By the mid-1990's the expansion fund had grown to over $100,000. The congregation decided to get serious about adding on, and ideas were collected from a few architects in 1995. Around the same time, the church received a bequest from Mrs. Isobel Mitchell, whose maiden name was Mulvagh. Mrs. Mitchell's grandfather James had immigrated from Ireland and established the the Mulvagh farm, once consisting of some 200 acres and stretching from Merivale Road to Fisher Avenue. She had grown up in the farmhouse that was to become the Parkwood manse and later the Fellowship Centre. The congregation decided to use some of the money for outreach, and part of the money was set aside for that purpose. The rest went into the expansion fund, and concrete plans began to take shape. An architect was hired, plans were drawn up and approved by the congregation, a builder was hired, and in the summer of 1996 the sanctuary and narthex areas were expanded, new offices on the main level and a new kitchen, office, meeting room and expanded hall on the lower level were built. As well, a handicap-accessible washroom was added on the main level and a handicap lift between the main and lower levels. The congregation moved into the new facility in October 1996. Details of the summer's activity can be found on the Expansion 1996 page.

    In 1995, Rev. McPhee encouraged some youth leaders at Parkwood to consider mounting a mission to Nicaragua, to assist in the ministry of some friends of Parkwood, the Rev. John and Mrs. Vi Duff. These efforts were successful and the Youth Mission took place in March 1996. A separate account of the mission is included on this site.

    A somewhat related event that happened around this time was the creation of Parkwood's first website. Planning for the Nicaragua mission trip had taken place largely by e-mail, so it became known that a number of Parkwood folk had computers hoooked up to the internet. Around the time of the mission a conversation took place over refreshments after the service on the wonders of the internet and two people, Hany Bishay and Gord Walford, agreed to work on a basic website. Hany showed Gord "the ropes" and a website was up and running in April 1996. You can view a first-generation webpage here. (but don't try to follow the links - they don't work). Also, the blue line down the middle of the screen will dissappear if you resize the window - computer monitors were a lot smaller and lower resolution in those days.

    Parkwood was honoured to be involved in the National Capital Region Billy Graham Mission in June of 1998. We were involved in many ways. Parkwood people were counsellors, ushers and singers. Rev. McPhee was the representative of the Presbyterian churches on the organizing committee. Parkwood arranged for buses to get people to and from each mission event. And we were privileged to be able to follow up with people referred to us who had indicated at the mission that they wanted to deepen their faith. Read Rev. McPhee's post-mission article from our newsletter entitled "Lessons from the recent Billy Graham Mission".

    1999-2000... Rev. McPhee announced his intention to retire some time in late 1999. At that point Parkwood asked Presbytery to appoint an interim moderator, and the Rev. James Statham of Grace church Orleans was assigned the task. The vacancy committee conducted a survey of needs and a congregational profile was developed. The profile gives a picture of Parkwood at that point in time (August 2000). The result is available for viewing here.

    2001... Floyd McPhee retired from his ministry at Parkwood church in the summer of 2001. His last Sunday in the pulpit was June 3rd, although he remained minister until the end of July. The Rev. James T. Hurd preached for a call to Parkwood on June 24th and at a meeting on June 26th the congregation extended a call to James, a native of Kirkland Lake, Ontario and graduate of Knox College, Toronto. James had been pastor of St. Paulís Church, Woodstock, New Brunswick for almost ten years and prior to that spent five and half years as minister at Knox Church, Wanham and Munro Church, Blueberry Mountain, Alberta. James and his wife Karen and daughters Jennifer and Janet moved to Ottawa in late October and James started his ministry at Parkwood December 2nd, 2001.

    2010-2016... Some time in 2010 it became evident that the old Mulvagh farmhouse had seen batter days. The brick exterior was deteriorating and the rubblestone foundation was crumbling, among other things. A building project was initiated with the goal of replacing the Mulvagh Wing with a modern facility of approximately the same size and number of rooms that would serve the congregation and community well into the 21st century. A Facility Planning Team was formed and plans were developed. The overall project was dubbed "Building to Serve". On April 12, 2015 a "decommissioning ceremony" was held to mark the commencement of the demolition of the farmhouse (see our photo gallery for a picture of those who took part). The new facility was dedicated during the worship service on Sunday October 30, 2016. More detail on the project is available on the Building2Serve page.

    Historical footnote: One of the people who attended the "decommissioning service" for the old manse was Kay Stanley (née Mulvagh), who grew up in the farmhouse. Kay's father Clarence was Isobel Mitchell's brother (see "By the mid 1990's" above for info on Isobel), and he inherited the farm from his father. In the fall of 2015 Kay was invited to speak at one of Parkwood's "Lunch & Learn" sessions, and she told us about her family and the farmhouse. The text of Kay's talk, "The House Built Upon the Rock", is available here, with Kay's permission.

    Parkwood continues to reach out to the community through its worship services, its courses and activities, and new efforts to meet the needs of people into the 21st century, such as this website. Please pray that we would be faithful in using our resources to share God's love with others around us, and if you can, join us in this task from God.


    (picture @ top: the Mulvagh farmhouse and property was purchased in 1967)




© 2018, Parkwood Presbyterian Church, 10 Chesterton Drive, Ottawa ON K2E 5S9