Our History

A church is not a building. A church is not a steeple. The church is not a resting place. The church is a people! Those are the words to a song we enjoy singing at St. Andrew’s. And how true!

The Early Days

Presbyterian Christians in Barrie first began worshipping together on Sept. 17, 1843; however, it wasn’t until 1849, when they established the Barrie Presbyterian Church, which became St. Andrew’s. At the time, the faith community shared a minister, Rev. Thomas Lowry, with a congregation in Innisfil. The Barrie Presbyterian Church officially became a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Canada on June 15, 1875.

Our sanctuary, located on the southeast corner of Owen and Worsley streets, opened on Feb. 25, 1883. Before that, we met in the Wesleyan Methodist chapel and then in our own building – a frame church built on the north side of Collier Street at Clapperton Street, just west of Trinity Anglican.

After World War One, the Memorial School addition – named to honour those who lost their lives in the war – was added. It’s where our offices, our classrooms, library and choir room were located, until we were displaced by fire in February 2023.

Our Values and Our Style of Worship

The people of St. Andrew’s have always loved music, and Christianity offers us so much music, be it inspired by the Jewish experience, medieval chants, classical arrangements or modern worship songs. God’s message of redeeming and inclusive love can be found in so much music and we pour our hearts into it. Our worship service is inspiring and empowering, as we endeavour to equip individuals to love God more and be Christ’s hands in our world.

Small groups offer everyone an opportunity to explore their interests, build friendships and learn more. In a variety of groups, we experience fellowship, grow in our faith and serve each other and our community. Find where you belong at St. Andrew’s!

International Day of Friendship concept: Family at sunrise background

Our People and Our Activities

St. Andrew’s story is about people. St. Andrew’s has had a history of serving the community ever since. Sports, programs for youth, musical leadership and social programs have kept St. Andrew’s busy through the decades. Please note that many of these activities are currently not available due to a fire on site.

Among the interesting community programs in which we’ve played a part:

  • A Sunday School Hockey League, with Methodist and Anglican congregations
  • In June 1897, the church’s Boy’s Brigade formed an ambulance corps,
  • The church became caretakers of the Colours of the 157th Battalion on Oct. 10, 1919
  • Andrew’s organist and choirmaster led the first community sing-song, at Queen’s Park on Aug. 17, 1923, an event organized by the Kiwanis Club
  • On April 7, 1920, the church hosts the first performance of the Barrie Community Choral Society and a children’s chorus, which included more than 450 children
  • Out of the Cold was born: the church opened its doors to the city’s homeless on Jan. 15, 1998 and we helped equip the David Busby Street Centre to take over this vital community program.
  • A soup kitchen – hosted Sundays after worship – started in 1991; it ended when the Salvation Army took over serving lunch seven days a week.
  • The congregation hosted the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s General Assembly – the annual meeting at which elders and ministers from across the country discuss policies and programs – in 1991
  • Winterfest: St. Andrew’s hosted lunches and craft sessions during Barrie’s Winterfest for many years
  • Refugee support: St. Andrew’s has supported families fleeing family and war: Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s and 1980s and refugees from Sryia in 2016 and 2017.
  • St. Andrew’s has opened its doors and its members have led Girl Guides and Scouts Canada groups
  • Vacation Bible Camps have given children in the community a fun place to learn about God’s love for them each summer
  • Music at St. Andrew’s … that’s a whole other topic, as we’ve hosted classical performances, organ performances, Scottish cultural events, sing-songs, community choir practices and performances, as well as our own choir’s festive presentations.

Where do you fit in? What would you like to learn, do or become?
Have an idea for a program or ministry, let us know! Be part of our future.