Back in 1815, a Bible Christian Society started up in Devon England, and they sent Missionaries to the colonies in Prince Edward Island and Upper Canada. By 1838 field meetings were being held in Mariposa. The missionary ministers traveled on horseback, sleds drawn by oxen in winter, on foot or by boat. They were known as “saddle back preachers” or “circuit riders.” Often they held three meetings on a Sunday and stayed overnight to hold more services the following day.
In 1857 the faithful were meeting regularly in Black’s School, and later Wylie’s School. in 1851 a chapel was built in Manilla, with a larger church following in 1869.
Meetings continued at the two schools, but members decided they wanted a church building of their own. Mrs. Carmichael donated a parcel of land at the corner of 12 concession of Mariposa and what is now Country Road 46. A mason and carpenter were hired to build a brick church 30 feet by 44 feet, and a shed 75 feet long.
C. Barker laid the cornerstone in 1877 with a trowel given him by Mr. Schuster, inscribed with the words “In memory of the cornerstone laid on the twelfth line of Mariposa, on the 24th of May, 1877.” In the cavity of the stone, the congregation laid a bottle with a copy of “The Globe,” “The Mail” and “Canadian Post” newspapers, names of trustees, building committee, contractors and donors of the land. Two to three hundred people then gathered at Mr. Carmichael’s barn to hear Brothers Barker and Roberts preach.
The church was dedicated on December 23, 1877. Donations of $1,066 paid for most of the building, with only $600 owing at the time of dedication. The church was originally called Providence, but people were also calling it “Black’s” and “Carmichael’s.” Later they named it Peniel from Genesis 32;30 “And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”
SECOND TEMPLE ERA
In 1913 that church collapsed in a violent, Sunday-afternoon windstorm. The contract for the building was $4,300, windows costing $66 and the organ $125. The seats and pulpit cost $710 and chairs $46.58. In 1915 the congregation paid off the second mortgage.
In 1912 the women formed themselves in the Ladies Aid Society, with Mrs. Thoas Osborne as president, followed by Mrs. Fred Nancekievill, then Mrs. Sam Squires. They raised $1,195 toward the new church building, with another $906 going toward the new sheds. The choir paid $200 and the Girl’s Social Club paid $110.
From the Ladies’ Aid, the women organized themselves into the Missionary Society, and finally the United Church Women in 1962. Whatever their name, the women have always been key to keeping the church vibrant and debt-free. Since the early days, the women served a fowl supper in the fall to help with expenses. While this stopped during the Second World War, the dinners resumed in 1958 and haven’t stopped yet