St. Matthews New Haven
People got together to worship the Lord in homes, then in ‘schools as they were built. In 1884 the first recorded administration of the Word and Sacraments by a Priest-in- Charge; Archdeacon CNF Jeffrey began the official deanery which included all southern Manitoba from Manitou to Clearwater.
In 1885 the Archbishop of Rupert’s Land, the most Rev Robert Machray appointed the first incumbent, Rev. H.E. Jephson, to the Manitou parish. He held services every other Sunday in the New Haven School. Also Rev Tansey, from the north, took services in the school.
In the early 1890’s Anglican and Presbyterian Church services were conducted on alternate Sundays in the first New Haven School building, which stood in the Northwest corner of 15-4-8W, a few yards from the present church.
On Feb. 17, 1895 Rev. N. Hewitt, incumbent of Manitou and R.D. of Dufferin held his first service in the New Haven School. Under Rev. Hewitt’s influence the Parish of St. Matthews New Haven was formed on May 27, 1897.
With the formation of St. Matthews Parish, the district began fundraising and donating towards the church. Many box socials and concerts where held in the school to raise money. The community farmers also donated money towards building their church.
From the Record of Services 1895-1915 record show, Feb. 14, 11895 we held our first church service as the "Parish of St. Matthew’s”. Rev Hewitt held the service, twenty people were present, and collection was 60 cents. On Nov. 13, 1905 W.J. Rowe held the last service in the New Haven school. There were 44 present and collection of $1,55. Nov. 20, W.J. Rowe, also attended by the Bishop, had the first service in St. Matthews New Haven Church. Attending were 45 people, collection $1.75.
The first parish meeting was held in the body of the church in April 1905. Rev Rowe was in the chair. The reports were presented and all showed a most gratifying state of affairs. There were twenty-five families in connection with the church. The special and general offertories had increased over the last year and the list of communicants was much larger. The envelope system for the support of the church was adopted, to be tried for one year. People’s Warden – William Bradley, Priest’s Warden – A.J. McDowell, Vestrymen – Leonard Crampton and C. Dawson.
The first child baptized in the new church was Miss Nellie Armitage. The first couple married where Mr. & Mrs. Hazslem Jordan. Mr. S.S. Crampton was the first adult buried in the cemetery; he had donated the land for the cemetery and planted some of the trees he now rests under.
In 1912 the W.A, later called ACW, was forded due to the efforts of Mrs. Gibson. Nineteen members joined at that time with Mrs. James Briscoe as president.
During Rev. Glover’s five years of ministry here, a communion table, a pulpits, a reading desk and hymn boards were placed in the church. All of them were carved and beautifully fashioned from oak by Robert Topham, a Manitou carpenter. The furnishings were put in by the wardens vestry and W.A. The pulpit bears a bronze plaque on which is engraved the names of the brave young men of our district who gave their lives for their country during the First World War. The hymn boards are in memory of Mrs. James Briscoe, our first W.A. president.
In 1942 a Honor Roll containing the names of all the boys who were then in the services was placed in the church.
In 1943, L.W. Crampton reported to Vestry meeting: "that a new organ had been placed in the church at a cost of $169,00, paid for by $100.00 bequeathed to St. Matthews Church by the late Jonathan Hughes and the balance donated by Mrs. Arthur Bradley. The organ to be in memory of Mr & Mrs. Jonathan Hughes and Mr. & Mrs. S.S. Crampton”. This organ was used until the 1960’s during Rev. Lee’s encumbence, when the organ from the Somerset Anglican Church was purchased. This pump organ is still used today. Organists during the years included: Mary Hughes, Mack Hughes, Mrs. H. Jordan, Florence Jordan/Mueller, Mrs. Roy Hughes, Gladys Jordan/Smith/Hughes, Miss Graham, Mrs. A. Bailey, Ruth Cudmore, May Stockford, June Stockford, Lal Crampton, and Shirley Crampton. Many others have filled in.
Rural deanery was held in May, 1954 in the New Haven St. Matthews Church and Community Hall. President of the W.A. was Mrs. B.H. Jordan. The W.A. was active and supportive of all parish work until is disbanded on Nov. 30, 1972.
SUNDAY SCHOOL AND BABY BAND
Sunday School in the early years was held after church at 3:15 p.m. After the church basement was built, Sunday School was held in the basement, unfortunately the water level was too high in the spring and another place was found. The children and teachers walked the short distance to the community hall for lessons. Many of the parents plus other devoted people gave freely of their time. Several mentioned were Mrs. Tucker, Mr. Crampton, Mrs. C.B. Jordan, Mrs. Williams, sr, Mrs. McCaffrey, Jack Hughes, Mrs. Zilkey, Joe Crampton, Margaret Foster, Gladys Smith, Edythe Bradley, and Mary Jordan.
Baby Band, later know as Little Helpers, was a children’s organization under the guidance of the W.A. In the spring, all the young Anglican children would gather for a meeting and picnic. W.A. minutes 1938 "Mrs. J. Hubley, secretary of Little Helpers, reported five new members enrolled. There are thirty members enrolled” Minutes from 1944 W.A. ‘July 1944, we held our W.A. meeting in conjunction with the Little Helpers at the home of Mrs. B. Jordan, Little Helpers secretary. The children look forward to this picnic and meeting very much. They sit in with senior members for devotions, then go to another corner of the lawn for their stories. Then they enjoy a fish pond and games followed by a delicious lunch including ice-cream and lemonade. Each child was given a :”mite box” in the spring for devotional pennies. These boxes were turned in at the fall special church service. These "mite” boxes tried to instill in the children that every penny was important towards Gods Work! These parties were held at different places over the years but the majority of them were hosted and held at Mrs. B. Jordan’s lawn.
The Baby Band dissolved in the late 1950’s.
The annual Sunday picnic was held at the grove at Hazslem Jordan’s farm. This picnic was mentioned in the Western Canadian throughout the 1930’s, 1940’ s and 1950’s.. Many years Manitou and Altamontparishes joined for a fun filled day.
Vestry meetings where held regularly. Priest’s Wardens, People’s Wardens and Vestry members were appointed to look after the affairs of the church.
Church was held regularly every Sunday for many years at 2:30 pm; later years changing to 9:45 am in the summer. The Vestry Book state there were services cancelled due to "No Service owing to heavy rain”, "roads bad”, "very stormy,” "cold, "roads very muddy”. In 1966 fall service fell to one per month. In 1968 services became two per year; plus funerals, a few baptisms and a few weddings.
At annual meeting 1981, the St. Matthews Parishers had a decision to make. Fewer farmers and larger farms meant that the congregation was shrinking each year. Close or hang on??? After much discussion the word was "hang on”. The church was moved off the basement on to a new cement foundation. Major renovations, paint and varnish made the small church an active functional church again. Two services, Rogation and Harvest Festival were held each year, plus funerals, baptisms and a few weddings.
In 1988 Russell and Muriel Jordan donated a new runner full length of the church plus the porch.
Ruling structure changed in 1981 with the decline in number of parishers. Instead of vestry meetings to make decisions, annual meetings, plus other meeting as necessary began. All the congregation met to make the decisions for St. Matthews Church. Meetings at first where held at Crampton’s or Hughes’ and later in the church basement in Manitou. Faithful parishioners, Crampton’s, Jordan’s, Hughes, Smiths, Zilkies, Thompson’s and Bradley’s quickly had the church lose it’s neglected look and it was spiffed up inside and out.
In conjunction with the annual church meeting, an annual cemetery meeting was held for all denominations of people interested in the upkeep of the cemetery. In 1980 perpetual care was established. At the May 3, 1983 annual meeting moved by Edythe Bradley seconded by Edna Jordan, all in favor. "Perpetual care should include filling in sunken graves, reseeding of grave sites, keeping the whole area moved, cleared of weeks, trees to be attended to and also stones should be leveled”.
For many years starting in 1984 Geordie Hughes was hired as caretaker. Geordie did a wonderful job of the grounds for many years. Later younger members of the community took over the caretaking; but Geordie has always carried on looking after the beautiful flowers at the entrance to the cemetery. A work bee would be called for any bigger projects decided at meetings. Early 1990’s, Rodney Crampton became chairman of the cemetery committee, doing the little jobs, supervising the larger and keeping record of plots.