2019 is Bethesda’s 225th Anniversary!
Following a successful 9 year term that included the building of three churches, Rev. John D. Peterson left for Waterloo in 1828 because he did not get paid his full stipend. Thus the St. Phillips congregation was left without a German speaking pastor. The congregation appealed to Bishop Strachan, Bishop of the “state” Anglican Church and he sent the Rev. V. P. Mayerhoffer to serve the congregation. Mayerhoffer, originally a Roman Catholic Priest in Germany, left the priesthood to marry and came to Buffalo, N.Y to serve. He was subsequently attracted to the Anglican Church and became an ordained member in Upper Canada. Thus Bethesda has a Roman Catholic trained minister of the Anglican Church serving as its minister in 1829. Mayerhoffer became a very controversial individual in Markham over the next two decades.
As the political struggles of the Rebellion of 1837 between the Family Compact in Toronto and the more free minded individuals in rural Upper Canada became more intense, the congregation learned of a Compact policy that if a congregation was served by an Anglican clergy for 10 years, the congregation would formally became an Anglican congregation. This did not sit well with our German Lutheran ancestors and they locked the church door and put armed guards at the door to ensure Mayerhoffer did not preach in the church again. The outcome was that Mayerhoffer took part of the congregation and the name St. Phillips across the road and started a new Anglican Church, known today as St. Phillips-on-the-Hill Anglican Church.