Paulin Memorial Presbyterian Church traces its beginning to November 23, 1952, when a Sunday School was established in Central Public School sponsored by St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, and the Presbytery of Chatham. South Windsor then was a part of Sandwich West and was a rapidly growing community. This expansion was reflected in an increasing Sunday School enrollment and a desire to bring a new church into being. Accordingly, the first service of our congregation was held on Jan 31, 1954, in Central School with Rev. Wm. Lawson officiating. Two weeks later, on Feb 14 a congregation composed of 57 charter members was officially organized as a Mission Congregation.
The sanctuary was the airy corridor of Central School, and the pews were chairs placed in position by volunteer members. The pulpit was a homemade portable platform, a table and a borrowed lectern. The first Board of Managers was elected March 7, 1954, with T.U. Neilson as chairman. Iain Troup was appointed chairman of a building committee. In April 1954 a Women’s Guild was formed with Mrs. Iain Troup as president. To assist in the ministry of praise a Junior Choir was formed under the direction of our first pianist and choir leader Miss Agnes Hartley. Progress in the new congregation was swift with 115 members added to the congregation in 1954 – 93 infants and 8 adults were baptized. Supported by pledges received from its members and friends in the amount of $28,000, the congregation decided on the building of the first unit, the present Church Hall. Further encouragement came in the form of a $25,000 grant by St. Andrew’s Church from the Paulin Memorial Extension Fund. An equal amount was made available as a loan.
In Sep 1954, the Rev. John Fox was appointed by the Home Missions Board and in October took residence in the newly acquired manse on Morris Drive, fully paid for through the kindness of a gift from the Paulin Memorial Fund, St. Andrew’s Church. Two weeks later the first session consisting of three members was ordained. Included were G. L. Stubberfield, T.U. Neilson and Alex Caird. During the first year, plans were completed for the erection of a Church Hall to serve the needs of the growing congregation. A groundbreaking ceremony took place on Nov 5, 1954. The cornerstone was laid on Jan 16, 1955, and the building dedicated on Jun 26, 1955, by the Presbytery.
The Rev. Fox was formally called and inducted as minister of the church on Mar 29, 1956. The continuing growth of the community contributed to growing membership in the church. Early in 1956, only 1 1/2 yrs after it’s establishment the congregation succeeded in becoming self-sustaining. Great emphasis on the life of the church was placed up youth work. The church took a bold step in pioneering a kindergarten in the community. Both morning and afternoon sessions were held and by 1960 had a membership of 90 preschoolers. When the educational system developed a kindergarten the church then opened a Nursery School. The Scout, Guide, Cubs and Brownie movement was a very important part of the youth work. Daily Vacation Bible Schools flourished too.
A mission education program for children was formed – Children of the Church for those 6-8 years and Explorers for those 9-11 years. A Young People’s Society met Sunday evenings. No less than three choirs were organized to assist in the services of worship. In 1960 two church services and 3 Sunday School sessions were established. Sunday School enrollment reached a total of 587 children. It was apparent that an expansion was needed. A new Building Committee was appointed in Nov 1959, and in Sep 1962 a proposal was presented to the congregation and approved for a Sanctuary to be added to the Church Hall.
Ground Breaking Ceremonies were held on Sunday, July 14 and the cornerstone was laid on Nov 3, 1963. Dedication of the new Sanctuary took place on Mar 8, 1964. Also in 1964 The Bell Tower, Schulmerich Magnebell Player and Chimeatron were added. The concrete tower reaches a majestic 80 feet, an architectural expression of the “evolution, progress and spiritual aspiration of man”, and serves as a landmark for the area. The bells ring out daily reminding all of the church in the midst of the community.
When Rev. John Fox moved to Westmount Presbyterian Church, London in 1967, Rev. D. G. Cassidy was called from St. Thomas and inducted on Jan 12, 1968. The late ’60s and early ’70s were difficult years for many churches in North America. There were much unrest and questioning of traditional values. A trend emerged revealing a declining commitment to the church and this was reflected in a downturn of membership. South Windsor was in no way insulated from these factors and consequently, the statistics reveal more losses than gains during the early ’70s. The situation at Paulin Memorial was aggravated by the fact that children born in the ’50s were growing up. Sunday School enrollment also decreased during this period. In spite of these factors, the congregation weathered the period and even made some gains. One major achievement was building a new manse at 3229 Maisonneuve Ave completed in May 1969.
During this time the Women’s Fellowship came into being by the amalgamation of the Margaret Malcolm Auxiliary and the Ladies’ Guild. At about the same time, a visionary project was accepted by the women in the form of the Nearly New Shoppe – a vehicle of outreach to the community and a demonstration of compassion and concern for those less fortunate. Countless hours of voluntary help went into this endeavour that provided nearly new clothing and other articles for hundreds of individuals and families.
In 1975 a pipe organ was acquired to replace the electronic Conn organ in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Presbyterian Church in Canada and a memorial to those who gave their lives during World War II.
After Rev. Cassidy resigned to attend the University of Western Ontario, London, Rev. Cedric Pettigrew was called from Westville, Nova Scotia and inducted on Feb 8, 1976. A strong effort was made during this period to develop a pastoral ministry responsive to the express needs of the congregation. Under the direction of the Board and Session steps were taken to meet this challenge and the congregation came through.
In October of 2003, another addition was begun. This addition expanded the parlour, created a large kitchen in the upper hall, added rooms and office space in the lower hall and also created a large area in the upper hall for banquets, meetings, etc. The addition was dedicated on June 27, 2004.
This was to become the Paulin Memorial Presbyterian Church that we call our church home today.