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Congregation’s first service held in a bar in 1866

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

Petrolia’s Christ Anglican Church is celebrating its 150th anniversary this weekend. The original brick structure was destroyed by fire in 1957 and the existing church building opened in 1959. Melissa Schilz/Postmedia Network

Petrolia’s Christ Anglican Church is celebrating its 150th anniversary this weekend. The original brick structure was destroyed by fire in 1957 and the existing church building opened in 1959. Melissa Schilz/Postmedia Network

Petrolia’s Christ Church Anglican is marking 150 years of worship this weekend with an open house. The celebration begins Oct. 22, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., with wine and cheese, memorabilia, as well as a short play.

Church member Sylvia Fairbank said the play will be about Christ Church’s fascinating history. The congregation’s first church service was held in a bar in 1866 — the American Hotel in the east end of Petrolia.

“They had their backs to the bar and the bottles were discretely covered by a curtain,” Fairbank said.

Services were also held at Fairbank Hall for about a decade before the congregation worshipped together in their own building. A wooden church was built on the west end of the town, before Petrolia’s first brick church was constructed to accommodate the congregation.

“In 1882 our brick church was opened,” she said. “Unfortunately in 1957 it was burnt, there was a terrible fire.”

A new church was built in 1959 and the bells from the former building were re-used. Imperial Oil founder and local hospital benefactor Jacob Englehart had donated them in his wife's name in 1909, and they remain in Christ Church to this day.

Fairbank said the weekend's events are to welcome all past ministers, members and friends of the church.

“We just thought it would be entertaining and fun,” Fairbank said.

The 11 o'clock Sunday service will also be officiated by Bishop Linda Nicholls.

Fairbank said that all are welcome to attend and there will be a potluck lunch after the Sunday service.