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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

CTMHV completes first phase of 1885 Bethel Church repair

- Community support still needed to paint/repair the exterior -

File photo of the CTMHV’s 1885 Bethel Church with its new metal roof.

by Sylene Argent

Thanks to the generosity of the community, the Canadian Transportation Museum & Heritage Village (CTMHV) was able to exit 2018 with having reached its fundraising goal of covering the cost of the roof replacement of the 1885 Bethel United Church.

  This Bethel United Church was originally built on the corner of the Arner Townline and the 6th Concession. It has been housed at the CTMHV since 1978.

  Last summer, the Church received a new metal roof to replace the aging cedar shingles. Through in-person donations, and online contributions through a GoFundMe page made for the project, the CTMHV raised the nearly $20,000 needed to cover the cost of the new roof. In addition, those funds also helped repair the water damage to the interior of the church that was caused from the leaky roof, before the replacement was made.

  This fundraising goal was reached because of the wonderful volunteers at the CTMHV, the Historic Vehicle Society of Ontario (HVSO) members, and community members, Emily Atkinson said, who is the CTMHV’s Media & Event Coordinator. In addition, the CTMHV received donations from individuals who were tied to the Church while it was an active congregation.

  Being able to tell where the donations came from was nice to see, she said, adding the Museum’s supporters are grateful the church was able to undergo this restoration because of the donations forwarded to the project. She thanked everyone who contributed.

  The new roof and the repair of the interior damage was phase one of the restoration project. Now, the CTMHV would like to raise another $20,000 to have the exterior of the Church painted and cover the cost to complete needed exterior repairs, like replacing boards. This will bring the restoration project on this much-used building to fruition.

  “It will be very nice when it is done,” Atkinson said 

The Bethel United Church is used as part of the CTMHV’s Children’s Education Program, where thousands of students get a hands-on history lesson every year. Annually, several area couples also choose to get married in the church.

  It is hoped this restoration project will help preserve the Church for many more years to come.

  Those who would like to donate to the project can visit

Members of the community can also make a donation at the Museum during regular business hours. An in-person donation or a mailed-in cheque could allow for the issuance of a tax receipt.

  To learn more about the CTMHV’s events, programs, or volunteer opportunities, log onto

  Looking ahead, the CTMHV will host an Indoor Automotive Flea Market on Saturday, February 16, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

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