Just over 105 years ago, in March 1910, four believers rented a building at 120 Tyrrell Avenue, Toronto (Addison Taylor, William McCullough, John Bartholomew, and Norman Kion). It wasn’t a fancy building. It was a simple, one story structure with a single door at the back. Light came from coal oil lamps and illuminated the room that held 20-30 chairs. This group started to humbly share the good news of Jesus Christ with the local community.
In 1911, a children’s work was started by six young men (Albert Kitcher, Eric Kitcher, Rupert Phillips, Norman Kion, Bill Robertson, and Isaac McMullen). They visited door-to-door to generate interest and invite the children. By the spring of 1912, there were over 135 children in the Sunday school. During June 1912, gospel meetings were also held in a tent with Robert McClintock and Caesar Patrizio. Weekly meetings continued in the rented building throughout the winter of 1912.
The summer of 1913 marked a great change. An old style tent was pitched on an empty lot, which eventually became the site of Bracondale Gospel Hall, the building that was occupied for many years. Construction of Bracondale Gospel Hall began in the fall of the same year and was completed in the spring of 1914, just before the commencement of World War I.
For the next 24 years, Christians in the area supported weekly Sunday school meetings, gospel meetings, prayer meetings, and Bible readings. The Christians also held regular “open air” meetings, where the good news was declared in the streets surrounding the hall.
The Assembly Established
By 1939, it became evident that the time had come to form an assembly testimony in Bracondale. The believers had been meeting in the Central Gospel Hall, and consequently, on March 19, 1939, Central Gospel Hall in Toronto provided them with a Letter of Commendation. One week later, on March 26th, the believers broke bread for the first time at Bracondale. There were 92 people in attendance on that memorable Sunday morning. It is incredible to note the timing of the establishment of this local assembly, as many other events were going on in 1939: World War II began, television began to be broadcasted in the US, LaGuardia Airport opened in New York City, and Albert Einstein wrote the President about creating an atomic bomb. It was during this time of immense turmoil in the world that, by the hand of God, Christians came together to start worshiping, praising, and making much of the name of Christ.
The Bracondale assembly continued to grow and thrive. Regular children’s meetings were held over the years, and many of those who were saved in these meetings were later added to the assembly. Every Sunday, the Christians gave out tracts in the streets surrounding the hall, and every month they mailed out tracts and Bibles to Newfoundland. Special gospel series were also held on a consistent basis, resulting in blessing in salvation.
Dates and Events of Interest
In 1941, Bracondale commended Doug Howard as its first full-time worker.
Marion Wilder, a Bracondale sister, had the vision to create a Christian seniors living home in the community. As a result, in 1967, Bethany Lodge was founded with Smith McGrath and Edward Hannah as Board members.
In 1969, a group of Christians left Bracondale to be engaged in the planting of a new local assembly, Fairbank, with a largely Italian population.
It eventually became evident that relocation was a reasonable and practical option. Many assembly members had moved north of the city over the years, so commuting time had increased significantly. Also, Toronto was a thriving and bustling metropolis, which resulted in insufficient parking in the area. The current building was quite small and the believers were exercised to start holding annual conferences, which would require a larger venue. So the assembly prayerfully began to save for a new building. With the help of a generous donation from the late Steven Paul, and the money in the “building fund,” the assembly purchased a lot of land in Vaughan in December, 1994.
Construction of the new hall, now Langstaff, began in the summer of 1995. During the summers of 1995 and 1996 (while construction was ongoing), gospel meetings and children’s meetings were held in a tent pitched on the lot. Speakers at these meetings included Harold Paisley and young men from Bracondale. The meetings were well attended with close to 100 in attendance each night. Children were picked up from the area and some professed salvation.
The Bracondale believers broke bread for the last time in the old hall on April 28, 1996. There were 75 in attendance. The next Sunday, May 5th, the believers broke bread in the small white building that currently sits to the east of the new hall. The years spent in that small building were years of great joy and fellowship. The believers continued to meet there until the new hall construction was finished. The first breaking of bread in the new building, “Langstaff Gospel Hall,” took place on March 14, 1999.
More Dates and Events of Interest
Harry and Margaret Clingen purchased the old home on the building lot to assist the assembly with funds to commence with construction.
In July 2004, Bryan and Rachel Joyce moved with their family from Newfoundland to Toronto and reside in Langstaff.
The vision for an annual conference with a focus on Missionary Service was realized in 2004. It has continued every year since.
Three families have since been commended for missionary service from Langstaff: Danny and Joan Harvey (April 2005); John and Joanne Clingen (May 2007); and Shawn and Rhonda Markle (July 2008).
As we look back and to the future, we are grateful for God’s goodness. It fills us with confidence that He will continue to provide for us, guide us, and empower us to accomplish His purposes.