First Lutheran Church West of Humber River

St. Philip's History

"In the autumn of 1956 and the early months of 1957, the Home Mission Committee of the Canada Synod, Lutheran Church, following conversations with Redeemer congregation, decided to open three new missions in Metro Toronto. At that time north and south lines were drawn at the Humber, and Dufferin Street. The West Mission was designated as west of the Humber, the North Mission as lying between the Humber and Dufferin, and the East Mission as the area east of Dufferin.

Dr. Carl R. Cronmiller was called by the Board of American Missions to develop the West Mission. The survey was started June 1, 1957, and the first service was held in West Glen Public School, September 15. The festival of the Reformation was Charter Sunday when 64 adults signed the charter roll.  Additional names were added from time to time resulting in a membership of 90 when St. Philip's was organized, January 19, 1958."

November 3,1960 "The Etobicoke Press"



Official church auxiliaries came into being at an early date, including Sunday School, U.L.C.W., Luther League and Choir. The choir, augmented by members from other Lutheran churches, provided the anthems for a Church of the Air broadcast and for the U.L.C.A. Convention in Toronto, September 1958.

The search for a building site was begun immediately after Charter Sunday, with a committee consisting of Rev.Cronmiller, Eric Christiansen, Steve Himmelman, Fred Roberts and Ross Myers. This group was later augmented by Ray Oberschulte, Henry Iversen and Carl Williams.

Their effort culminated in the acquisition of a piece of property located on the northeast cloverleaf of Burnhamthorpe Rd. and Highway 27, at a cost of $35,000.00.  Architect Michael Bach was engaged by St.Philip’s and by April 1959 the ultimate building plot plan, the preliminary drawings and the construction drawings were approved by the Department of Church Architecture.

The mission was ready to start construction of an educational unit, but could not obtain a permit from the Township of Etobicoke. The Township Planning Board was developing a scheme whereby a strip on either side of Highway 27 would be utilized for office buildings or other high-class commercial enterprises and, in fact, in late 1958, the whole strip was rezoned from residential to first class commercial. The developer, from whom we had purchased our land, immediately endeavored to repurchase. When we refused to sell or trade for a less desirable piece of property that he had, steps were taken to block our building permit. Eventually, in order to resolve this matter, it was necessary for us to take legal action in the court against the Township.  St. Philip's sought a writ of mandamus that was granted by the presiding judge at a hearing in Osgoode Hall. After a few more weeks, St. Philip’s won the case and a building permit issued, the Township immediately drew plans routing a road through the property, which then legally permitted them to expropriate the entire church site.

It required almost another year to obtain the present property at a cost of$55,000.00. New building plot plans were prepared and construction drawings revised to make them compatible with the new site. Construction started in June 1960 and the building was completed in October. On Reformation Sunday, October 30, the educational unit was dedicated. Dr. Albert Jacobi, President of the Synod, was the guest speaker accompanied by Rev. Otto Reble.

The following prayer was used at the Service of Dedication, October 30th 1960

"Let Thy Blessings Rest Upon Us. Let Thy blessing rest upon this church, 0 Lord. Out from the by-roads, out from the care-filled days we come, an earnest throng, to hear Thy Word, to offer Thee our sincere, heartfelt praise. We come to seek Thy steadfast guiding power, we come to lay our burdens at Thy feet; we seek the calming quiet of this hour away from the clamoring through, the crowded street. Let Thy blessing rest upon this church, we pray, Upon a people in their vital need; Be Thou our helper, be our guide and stay, And be our wine, the bread on which we feed, Lord God, for every church in every land, We crave a blessing from Thy mighty hand." - Grace Noll Crowwell

The educational unit, which served for a few years as a church, is of brick and block construction with full basement. Ground breaking service was held in May. The dimensions are 80 feet by 35 feet plus a vestibule twenty by twelve feet. Plans were already underway to build the church and then finally the Fellowship Hall.

"St. Philip's is very grateful to the Canada Synod and the Board of American Missions for making available the necessary funds especially so since the congregation has not received, to this date, any remuneration for the property which was expropriated by the township. November 3,1960 "The Etobicoke Press"

In late 1962, Pastor Cronmiller was taken ill and for the next four years, although under great stress, he faithfully served his congregation until God called him to his eternal reward on November 21, 1966. For the following nine months. Rev. A.J. Datars of Brampton, served as Vice-Pastor of the congregation.

A call to Rev. R. J. H. Binhammer was accepted, and he was installed on September 17, 1967. At that time, a new parsonage was purchased on Brampton Rd., to replace the original one that had been sold several years previous.

In 1980, on the 20th anniversary of our dedication, we celebrated the final mortgage payment and began our plans for the 80's. A long range planning committee was formed and an extensive survey conducted within the congregation. The construction of a Senior Citizen's residence on the property was proposed but failed to gain the approval of the City. Plans were then initiated for the construction of a new church.

In 1988, the congregation demonstrated its support through commitments to a "St. Philip's — Alive" fundraising campaign. On May 6, 1990, the ground was broken for a new church building. During the summer and fall of 1990, while construction was underway, worship services were held at Hillview Presbyterian Church. Construction was completed on schedule and the congregation began worshipping in its beautiful new church on December 16, 1990.

Reverend Dr. Robert Binhammer retired from St. Philip's in March l997. Rev. Tim Hegedus served as Interim Pastor for the congregation. A call to Rev. Douglas W. Kramer was accepted, and he was installed on September 7, 1997. 

In 2008, St. Philip's celebrated its 50th Anniversary.

In September 2010, Reverend Kramer retired.  St. Philip's was in an interim period following Pastor Doug's retirement, postponing a call to take a pause and reflect before proceeding.  A Call Committee was formed in May 2011.  A Call was issued to the Reverend Tuula Van Gaasbeek following a Call Meeting on March 25, 2012.  Pastor Tuula was installed June 17th, 2012, and we began the journey in the next chapter of this people of God, known as St. Philip's.