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Rev. Jim Weir of Kincardine celebrates 60 years as ordained Presbyterian Church minister

By: Liz Dadson
May 8, 2017

A lot of things have changed since Rev. Jim Weir of Kincardine was ordained 60 years ago, but the one thing that has remained constant is his joy in proclaiming that God loves us.

Born in London, he graduated from the University of Western Ontario there, and then Knox College in Toronto, and was ordained into the Presbyterian Church in Canada ministry, May 16, 1957, in London.

During his theological studies, he served on two summer mission fields – one in Courval, Saskatchewan, meeting in a school house; and the other at Hopewell and Eureka Presbyterian Churches, near new Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

His first charge as an ordained minister was at St. George, Pennfield, and Bocabec Kirk Presbyterian Churches in southwest New Brunswick.

“I was 24 years old and the congregation had not had a resident minister for 23 years,” recalls Weir. “They had only met during the summer months. The St. George Kirk was built in 1790.”

Growing up in his father's greenhouse business, Weir learned to be “handy” which was useful as he could assist in church repairs. “I rewired the Bocabec church for lighting," he says. "Years later, it burned down, but the electrical wiring was not the cause.”

Rev. Jim Weir (right and below) at graduation, May 16, 1957

Two years later, he took the opportunity to study at the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland for a year.

“I was able to travel and visit many relatives in Ireland,” says Weir, “but it was so cold there, even indoors. My mother made me a pair of knitted gloves with two fingers out of them so I could work.”

He rented a scooter and toured around Europe, staying in 35 different youth hostels, at 30 cents per night. He also travelled to the Iona Community and took a bus tour across Germany and Poland to Moscow.

When he returned to Canada, Weir was appointed to the extension charge of Calvin in Kitchener. During his tenure, the church building was erected in 1961.

It was while he lived in Kitchener, that he met Margaret Fair, a secondary school teacher. They were married in 1963, and two years later, he was called to Knox Presbyterian Church in Kincardine.

“I was familiar with Kincardine because we had travelled through it a couple of times on our way to Wiarton and Tobermory,” said Weir. “At that time, the town had a population of 2,000, and the Douglas Point Nuclear Station had just been built but was not yet up and running.”
Four people preached for the call but Weir was selected and served in Kincardine for 11 years.

He and Margaret moved to Kincardine in 1965 and their son, Malcolm (now Dr. J.A. Malcolm Weir, a veterinarian), was born that December.

Weir was part of the movement to establish an ecumenical playschool program in the churches which helped to integrate new mothers to Kincardine, as well as assisting children. He pursued ecumenical outreach in many ways, such as welcoming the Roman Catholic priest to take part in the Knox anniversary service.

He helped start Meals on Wheels, and in 1973, held the first Knox Scottish Service which later became the “Kirkin' of the Tartan.”

When he began preaching in Kincardine, Weir found that a lot of people came to town for church. “There was a real difference between people from Kincardine and those from Tiverton and Ripley because Kincardine had industry and several industry leaders,” he recalls.

Eleven years later, he left Kincardine to take a call at the larger Knox Church in Burlington where he served for 22 years before retiring in 1998.

He and Margaret had purchased land on Birchwood Boulevard in Kincardine Township in 1973, and their house was built there in 1978. They agreed they would use it as an investment property or a retirement property. Fortunately, they chose the latter and retired there, adding a sunroom in 1990, and a garage in 1998.

“We returned to Kincardine because we always liked it here,” says Weir. “We know a lot of people and it's a friendly community. We'd returned here through the years and we had youth groups here. It's a great place and we know everybody and everything.”

In 2001, he took a six-month interim ministry at the large St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Victoria, British Columbia.

When they returned to Kincardine, he was elected to the executive of the Probus Club and has served as president there. He became a member and later a director of Russell Meadows Non-Profit Accommodations Inc., and now, as a past-president, he is involved with a new project there, building an addition to the current structure.

He has been chaplain of the Kincardine Legion for the past nine years, and is the charity committee chairman. He also served as chaplain at the Burlington Legion and was chaplain of the Royal Canadian Naval Association in Burlington.

Rev. Jim Weir (left) and his wife, Margaret

Over the years, Weir has seen many changes, but one of the most difficult is watching the decline in the membership in the Presbyterian Church. “Our children's children simply don't go to church,” he says.

There has also been a change in worship, he says, as the traditional and blended style wars with the modern. “I find that with the modern style, often the lesson and the sermon have no connection.”

In addition, he is concerned that the Presbyterian Church in Canada is about to decide if it will allow homosexual ministers in the pulpit.

“That decision has been put off for a year,” says Weir. “I know it's going to divide the church. Presbytery tried to pass a motion that if congregations wanted to leave the Presbyterian Church because of that decision, they could keep their buildings. That's likely to be turned down.”

Despite those concerns, Weir says he hopes that after 91 years, the United Church and Presbyterian Church can have a closer relationship. “I've always been ecumenical in my views.”

Weir, 84, and his wife have been invited to a celebration at Knox College in Toronto, tomorrow and Wednesday (May 9-10), to mark his 60 years of ordination.

Holding up his class photo, he says there were 24 graduates, and only five of them are still alive.

“Sixty years ago, all my classmates were men,” he says. “There weren't many second-career or female graduates back then.”

While Margaret has supported him through his ministry, she also had her teaching career, working at Kincardine District Secondary School and teaching night school until moving to Kitchener.

“We had an agreement,” she says, “I never told him how to preach and he never told me how to teach.”

In his spare time, Weir enjoys flower-gardening and grows Cannas each year. He and Margaret enjoy travelling.

Rev. Jim Weir of Kincardine holds up his graduating class photo; he is third from the right in the bottom row


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