Below is a story that I wrote that was recently published here.
The air was brisk on Saturday October 23 when tractors of all shapes and sizes started gearing up for the Tractor Breakfast and Bake Sale at Kirkwall Presbyterian Church. With the leaves in shades of red and gold, people from neighboring farms and villages took a break from their activities to ride on into Kirkwall, Ontario to share some stories, have a hearty breakfast and show their support for the church.
From John Deere to Massey Ferguson, over 13 different types of motorized tractors from farm machinery to your small lawn tractor made the ride. Several participants also brought pedal tractors, die-cast tractors, homemade wooden and tin tractors. Breakfast-goers came from all around including the communities of Aberfoyle, Cambridge, Crieff, Clyde, Morriston and Sheffield.
The Tractor Breakfast was the brain child of congregation member, and tractor enthusiast Howard Hill after hearing of similar events happening in other areas.
“The church is in a rural area and has lots of farming background,” said Mr. Hill who was happy to see Reverend Tom Billard on a tractor for the first time. “Us guys like driving our tractors and need an excuse to drive them.”
The event brought in over 130 people, young and old into the church located in the heart of Southwestern Ontario in hopes of raising funds and awareness for the church. Mr. Hill talked to local businesses and farms with regards to coming to the breakfast and donating goods for door prizes. He was seen donning a bright yellow jacket calling numbers throughout the breakfast with many happy cheers from the winners.
Members of the Tractor Breakfast Team, including the entire Women’s Auxillary, worked hard on the event, preparing a hearty meal as well as baked goods. The meal included locally produced eggs and maple syrup which were provided by members of the church congregation.
“The ladies worked so hard to bring the food,” said Rev. Billard with pride. “We have a lot of talented people here.”
The Tractor Breakfast is one of many events for the Kirkwall Presbyterian Church which has set a very high goal of an expansion on the back of the church which was originally built in 1887. The expansion is the largest of it’s kind in over 100 years, says Rev. Billard. “It means we’ll be able to be more accessible to our entire congregation.”
As the Sheffield Presbyterian church was amalgamated with Kirkwall, some of the churches weaknesses started to become apparent. Accessibility was an issue and there became a strong need for an elevator. The children’s playroom and Sunday School area was also too small to accommodate the growing number of youth coming to the church each week and there has become a need for a dedicated meeting area.
“The nursery and the multipurpose room will allow for a better children’s program,” said Rev. Billard. “It will help us reach out to families.”
Nine-year-old Zakary Schmitz agrees. When asked about how he felt about the addition, the blonde-haired boy smiled and said “It’s going to be much bigger.”
The plans include: building an elevator that will lead up to the sanctuary, accessible washrooms, a meeting room and storage space. After talking to contractors in January, Scheidel Construction broke ground at the start of October and is being watched over by the Board of Managers, the Session and the entire congregation.
The church has been working hard for the past year to raise the funds for the addition but this hasn’t been their sole focus. They congregation banded together for Haiti after the devastating earthquake rocked that country by raising funds, knitting and donating blankets and washcloths. After the recent tsunami in Pakistan they raised over $1500. In the summer, the church hosted a Corn Roast and a Chili Luncheon to raise fund for the Canadian Food Grains Project.
“Our congregation is very hard working and action-oriented,” said Rev. Billard. “They put their faith into action.”
The next big event for Kirkwall Presbyterian Church will be an annual Robbie Burns Dinner. A local favourite that takes place at the end of January with proceeds going to the Presbyterian World Service and Development. Last years dinner raised enough money to put in a well in Malawi, a landlocked country in the heart of Africa.
With all their hard-working determination and community spirit, the congregation is still short on the amount of money needed for the construction and many future events are in the works. If you would like to help Kirkwall reach their goal, donations would be greatly appreciated. Any donation over $10 will be issued a tax receipt.
Please send donations to:
Kirkwall Presbyterian Church
c/o Jeanette Jamieson
2055 8th Conc. W
Cambridge, ON, N1R 5SZ