Rockingham — The sweet sounds of Amazing Grace rang out in the old Rockingham Church on Sunday, marking the 21st celebration of the restoration of the church.

The local musical group, the YoYo Mamas, presented a variety of numbers during and after the service. The group has several members and four were on violin on Sunday afternoon with beautiful renditions of many classic tunes, including Amazing Grace. Denise Coulas, Lynn Gutoskie, Anne Burns and Janet Adams of the “Mamas” were joined by Kerry Boehm on guitar for the afternoon.

The annual service marks the restoration of the church, which took place in 1999-2000. With some COVID shut downs, this marks the 21st celebration. The Friends of Rockingham Church was formed in 1995 and worked hard to fundraise to repair the old St. Leonard’s Anglican church which sits high above the hill of the hamlet. They succeeded in saving the old church and it continues to be a site of pilgrimage, especially on the annual August Sunday afternoon service.

Adjacent to the church is the old graveyard, which always serves as a centre of interest. In the graveyard is the stone of the founder of Rockingham, John Samuel Watson who came to Canada in the late 1850s. The church was built in about 1875 but as settlement declined, church attendance fell too. Regular services were not held after 1924 and the church fell into disuse and disrepair. The church was in danger of demolition but the community rallied to save it.

The church was eventually deconsecrated, but in his remarks on Sunday, Rev. David Trafford, a member of the original Friends of Rockingham Church group, reminded those present of the legacy of faith, hymn signing and scripture reading in the building. He pointed out the Psalms in the Bible were once sung with music, so it was appropriate to hear the singing in Rockingham on Sunday.

Rev. Trafford said the Bible has much wisdom to share and he pointed the congregants to two books in the Bible in particular – Proverbs and Psalms.

“Proverbs is where we can learn wisdom,” he said, noting it is a good book for young people especially to read.

During the service he read from Psalm 145. He said he chose this Psalm as one of hope and encouragement for those present.

“After coming through so much in the last few years and with so much happening in people’s lives, I would point you to the Psalms,” he said.

Glenn Allen of the Friends group noted the church continues to be a place people enjoy visiting and said the need for fundraising continues. He pointed out donations can be done online as well.

As for the hamlet of Rockingham, it was never really a ghost town, he said. Now, it is growing with many new people coming to the area and working on the land or building in the community, he added.

One part of the annual service which is especially meaningful for those in attendance is the ringing of the bell. This year Catherine Welk rang the bell in memory of her mother, Marion Trafford, who lived in Rockingham and was married to Rev. Trafford.

Each year a speaker is invited and this year the speaker talked about the history of the nearby Foymount Radar Base which was part of the Pinetree Line of NORAD radar stations. Opened in 1952, it closed in 1974.

On Sunday afternoon the weather was cooler than a normal August Sunday and the pews were full in the church. The old hymn, the Church in the Wildwood, was sung, with Mr. Allen pointing out the little brown church on the hill in Rockingham continues to have that pull for people as well.

The Friends of the Rockingham Church continue to need donations to continue the upkeep work on the old church. It is a registered not-for-profit charity. More information can be found at