It is hard to imagine today that in the late 1800's, Essex County was swampy and heavily forested with only native trails for transportation. Yet small groups of hardy settlers cleared homesteads and joined together to build a church and school. They would leave their mark upon the life and history of their communities.
In 1850, the first Maidstone Methodist Episcopal Church was built three miles east of Maidstone Cross. It was later rebuilt in 1871 on the current property, one mile east of Maidstone Cross. This new building was a landmark, known as the little white church of Maidstone Cross, and stood on that site for 110 years. It, too, was renovated several times over the years, and a hall was erected in 1928.
In 1856, Methodist settlers erected a sturdy log church across from the present site of the Windsor Airport.
In 1864, a wood framed church painted bright red was built on the 9th Concession of Maidstone. In 1888, Bethel Methodist Church was constructed on Baseline Road in Maidstone for the approximate cost of $1,000. The building was further renovated in 1946 and again in 1959 as the congregation grew.
The United Church was inaugurated on June 10, 1925, when the Methodist Church of Canada, the Congregational Union of Canada, and 70 percent of the Presbyterian Church in Canada entered into a union of faith.
In 1981, the Bethel United congregation joined with Maidstone United in a new building. The pews, communion table, pulpit and many other memories from each building were incorporated into the new church: Bethel-Maidstone United. The first service was held on March 8, 1981 with 175 in attendance.
Today, we are a strong, united congregation working together as servants of God, expressing our faith in Christ through teaching, sharing, serving and prayer.
The Gesto Methodist Church congregation started to meet in 1874 under the guidance of the Methodist Church. In 2006, the congregation celebrated their 120th anniversary in the church building, on County Road 12 in the hamlet of Gesto.
In 1925, Gesto Methodist Church also joined with her brothers in Canada to become the Gesto United Church. The building, erected in 1886, underwent extensive remodeling between 1948 and 1950, adding a basement, kitchen, bathroom, parlour and oil furnace.
In August 1987, the church was struck by lightning, causing a fire that resulted in extensive damage. The Township Hall opened their doors so worshippers could continue to meet until the building was restored.
Numerous volunteers from the community helped expedite the repairs so the restoration would be completed before Christmas.
Since its first beginning, Gesto United Church remained a landmark and regular worship place for the generations that followed. After 134 years, the last worship service took place on June 1, 2008, and the congregation said farewell to the historic building, and merged with Bethel-Maidstone United Church