Thursday, 2 June 2011

Reverend Thomas Greene

Reverend Thomas Greene was a young Irish clergyman who was born in New Ross in 1809. He came to Canada as a Missionary.  Rev Greene was what was known as "Saddlebag preacher". Saddlebag preachers were so named because they rode on horseback through the forest in summer’s heat and winter’s storms, preaching in the log homes of the early settlers. As early as the 1790s, missions were established along the Grand River by “saddle bag” preachers. Church services were held in schoolhouses in many communities before churches were built. Some of the original churches in Brant County, more than a hundred years old, still stand firm as a memorial to the pioneers whose efforts brought them into being.
Rev. Greene held his first Anglican Service in Burford Public School on February 13, 1836. The following week, on February 21, 1836, Rev. Greene preached in the home of a Mr Draper. Early the following day, he preached the first "Church of England" (Anglican) service in a large room of a tavern in Port Burwell. He reported that a woman presented herself for baptism and the crowd who had gathered were until that time unaware of the sacrament of baptism, leading Rev. Greene to then provide them with a lesson. That same night, Rev. Greene returned to Vienna where he preached to a crowd of about 100 in the schoolhouse. Rev. Greene felt that the large number of Irish and English families settled along the southern end of the Grand River and along the Eastern shores of Lake Erie, was fertile soil for the Anglican faith. In today's terms, Rev. Greene would be known as a "Church Planter". He established a number of Anglican parishes in Western Ontario, retiring in 1838 in the Burlington area. He was honoured by his church for his early works and was bestowed an LLD (Doctor of Laws). He was later made a Canon. Rev. Greene died on October 7, 1878 at home. He is buried in Burlington.

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