New church opening its doors in Amherstburg



By Ron Giofu


A new church is slowly but surely being created in Amherstburg.

Pastor Tim Charter and his wife Marta are launching The River church, with it currently being based out of their Front Road North home. The couple hosts Bible study every Wednesday night with three couples usually turning out, though more are welcome.

They hope to offer service by September at the latest.

The Charters are originally from Mississauga but lived in Amherstburg from 2005-11. A family situation saw them move to the Toronto-area for several years until they returned in Sept. 2017.

“We fell in love with Amherstburg. It’s just a cool place,” commented Tim.

The Charters wanted to come back to be closer to their children and grandchildren as well as to start a new church.

“We wanted to come back with a purpose,” Tim said. “We believe very strongly in the word of the Lord.”

Tim is ordained and has a Master’s Degree in theological studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in religious education from the Ontario Bible College. His 15 years as a pastor has seen him work in churches in Kingsville, Comber and Mississauga. He added it is the second church they have started, noting they had “quite a bit of success with the first one.”

The Charters have connected with the Canadian National Baptist Conference to help get The River church launched. The name was chosen not only because of their home’s proximity to the Detroit River, but for the religious symbolism a river depicts.

“Our goal is to get people down the river more and more towards the ultimate goal, which is to be like Christ,” he said.

Tim and Marta Charter have started a new church, known as “The River.” It is currently operating out of their Front Road North home.

There are phases to becoming a church. Currently, they are classified as a “seed,” then they would become a “church plant” before actually being designated a church. They do not have a physical building as of yet and hope to hold services out of their home for the time being.

“We’re resisting renting space,” Tim said, adding they don’t want to ask for money unless they have to.

That said, they now can accept donations if a person chooses to give one.

“I’m really happy to say we have charitable status,” he said. “We are able to accommodate donations and people are able to get a receipt, even though we’re a young church.”

The Charters believe there are many who may not go to church currently but would see The River as a church they can get behind and help build from the ground up. They encourage as many people as possible to join them and help build the church.

“We’ve noted people get excited when they are part of the process,” said Marta.

While acknowledging the churches in Amherstburg are doing good things, they believe there is room for another.

“Amherstburg, as a community, is very under-churched from an evangelical point-of-view,” said Tim. “We just feel Amherstburg could use something new.”

Tim and Marta both expressed their love of the community.

“We love the town,” he said. “We think Amherstburg is fantastic. I really think it’s an unknown little gem. We fell in love with it the first time we were here.”

To participate in their Bible study groups or to become involved with The River church, e-mail or call 416-409-7583. People can also join their Bible study groups every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Their home is located at 1274 Front Road North.

Community of Christ celebrates 100 years in Amherstburg



“It is important that we celebrate these occasions as we again stop to recognize the sacrifices of our forefathers who laid the foundation for the church as it exists in Amherstburg today.”

Bob Wismer has been the pastor at Community of Christ for three years. He explained, he has spent his whole life in church, having been born and raised in the church, and his family is even listed as some of the charter members of the congregation. Wismer grew up attending youth groups and summer camps, until he was called to service in 1984. He has been servicing in the Amherstburg congregation in various supporting and leadership roles since.

“Our congregation was started when missionaries came to speak in Essex in 1908,” explained Wismer. “Theodore A. Wismer went to hear them. A year later, George M. Shippy returned and Wismer and nine others were baptised February 4, 1909 through the ice at he end of Texas Road in the Detroit River.  Later, in 1914, Wismer moved to the 4th Concession in Anderdon Township and invited the missionaries to come and meet in his home. The small group began to grow in Anderdon and soon was organised into a small congregation in 1917.”

Apostle Art Smith (left) president Steve Veazey (centre) and Pastor Bob Wismer (right) stand in front of a restored original window from the Little White Church, which is still located on the Fourth Concession. The window was restored by Jim and Jen Meloche and was gifted to Community of Christ during the Saturday evening service in honor of their centennial celebration. Wismer said it will be permanently displayed in the congregation. (Submitted photo)

Wismer continued to explain, the church building was constructed on the 4th Concession near Alma Street in a piece of land donated from the corner of Theodore Wismer’s farm.  The building was constructed in 1925 and dedicated December 20th of that year. The building cost was $2,250.

In 1956, the church building at 157 Alma St. was dedicated as the congregation moved up town and continued to serve the community through activities such as turkey dinners, vacation Bible schools, strawberry socials as well as participation in various parades and the World Day of Prayer.

“More recently, the addition of a fellowship hall occurred in 2008 to allow the congregation more flexibility to serve both the community and congregation. The hall is currently used for a fitness class as well as the Taoist Tai Chi groups, which meet there regularly. It is also used as a meeting room and even a room for worship when the formality and permanent placement of the pews in the main sanctuary is not desirable. Wismer said they have about 35-40 people attending church on a regular basis.

“Over the last 100 years, things in the church have changed dramatically,” said Wismer. “In the original church building, members of the congregation would come in on Saturday to clean the church for Sunday meetings which included warming up a Québec heater so that the building would be warm enough to hold services the next day. Services used to be held three times a week Sunday mornings, evenings and also on Wednesday nights. With people becoming more and more mobile over the last hundred years, and as technology and communications continued to advance, people seem to be looking elsewhere to fulfil any spiritual void they may find in their lives.  So, we now have services Sunday morning at 11 a.m. with the Sunday school program at 9:45 a.m.”

Wismer said, their church is “a denomination unto itself,” as over the years, there have been a number of changes in the church’s move towards being more inclusive and embracing diversity. He said they are “a peace church that promotes communities of joy, hope, love and peace.”

“This weekend, we had a rare opportunity to share with the president of our church, which is headquartered in Independence, Missouri. president Stephen Veazey has travelled to Amherstburg to spend Saturday and Sunday in our congregation,” said Wismer. “This has drawn some attention from surrounding congregations of our church who will be stopping in to share in the Centennial celebrations. President Veazey graciously agreed to share in an open forum question and answer period Saturday afternoon where he took all questions on any issue and answered them as completely as he could. Questions were asked on a variety of topics including church finances, priesthood, outreach and even about stress management.”

Church president Stephen Veazey came from their headquarters in Independence, Missouri. He participated in an open forum question and answer period Nov. 18.

On the evening of Nov. 18, the congregation gathered to look through the congregational photo album and tell a historical narrative of the congregation through words and photos from 1917 to the present day. During the Sunday morning service Nov. 19, the congregation was given special recognition from Essex MP Tracey Ramsey, and from Mayor Aldo DiCarlo who was unable to attend due to his continuing recovery from surgery.  Both passed on certificates of congratulation and gave wishes for continued service in and from the congregation.

“Having our congregation exist in Amherstburg for 100 years is very significant. In a town that really values its heritage, we are very pleased to be a part of that heritage,” said Wismer. “As pastor of the congregation celebrating its centennial, of course I am very joyful about the occasion. However, there is also the recognition that this celebration does not indicate an end but rather only a beginning towards building towards the bicentennial celebration. I am humbled by the history of our congregation and hope only to be another pillar upon which the future can be built.”

Community of Christ Church preparing for 100th anniversary celebration



By Ron Giofu


A local church has hit the century mark and will be celebrating that milestone later that month.

Community of Christ Church, located at 157 Alma St., will host its 100th anniversary celebrations Nov. 18-19 at the church. A special guest for that weekend will be Community of Christ president Steve Veazey, who is based in Independence, Missouri.

“We’re going to have an open forum with him Saturday the 18th from 3-5 p.m.,” said Pastor Bob Wismer. “In the evening, we’re going to have a service celebrating our history. We’re going to walk the congregation of Amherstburg through a century of existence.”
The Saturday service is at 7:30 p.m., preceded by a congregational trivia contest from 6:15-7:15 p.m.

A “service of celebration” will be Nov. 19 at 10 a.m. and feature area dignitaries as well. A lunch will follow that service.

Community of Christ Church, located at 157 Alma St., will be hosting a 100th anniversary celebration the weekend of Nov. 18-19. The organizing committee planning the celebration includes (back row, from left): Pastor Bob Wismer, Kathy McCarty and Shari Harmon. Front row (from left): Jack McCarthy, Linda Jones and Don Jones.

Wismer pointed out the church started in 1917 by members meeting in each other’s homes. They built a church building on Concession 4 North in 1925 and moved to the current site in 1957, with the current site expanded within the last decade or so. The original church was torn down in 2000.

“The county church was not meeting the needs of the congregation,” said Wismer.

Community of Christ Church has been hosting a variety of activities over its 100 years including Vacation Bible Schools, turkey dinners, youth dances, Halloween parties and other events and has also donated to such causes as the Amherstburg Food Bank and Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

Wismer pointed out there are roughly 100 people in the congregation currently with members coming from LaSalle, Harrow as well as Amherstburg. Plans for the 100th anniversary have been taking place since the beginning of the year, he added.

“It’s a once in a lifetime event for the congregation,” stated Wismer.

Wismer noted there are many family ties at the Amherstburg church, noting he is a fourth generation pastor. He also stated other families, such as the Jones family, have deep ties at Community of Christ Church including having many pastors as well.

“We’re all part of a greater community,” said Wismer. “We’re happy to be part of the great community of Amherstburg.”