Our People

A Brief Overview of Our Church Staff

Reverend Anita Van Nest

Rev. Anita Van Nest has been the pastor at Stamford Presbyterian Church for four years now. As a storyteller and former teacher, Anita loves to bring the narratives of the Bible alive while speaking into the context of everyday life for real people.

Some of the themes she explores in worship on Sunday mornings include “Who is Jesus?”; “How does the Holy Spirit inspire and provoke us?”; and “How can we be children of God?”. There are no questions too big or too little to be asked and Anita welcomes congregational participation in worship and service, from our youngest members to our oldest.

Pastor Anita graduated from Queen’s University with a Concurrent Education Degree and from Knox College at the University of Toronto with her Master of Divinity. She serves on the Justice Advisory Board of the National Church and the Evangelism and Mission Committee of the Niagara Presbytery.

Anita enjoys exploring the Niagara Region with her husband and children. She feels blessed to be part of a dedicated staff and hospitable, friendly congregation here at Stamford Presbyterian.

Please feel free to contact Pastor Anita at the church at (905) 356-2750.

Jackie Grant

Jackie Grant has music in her heart. Jackie has led choirs and played music in countless churches for over 60 years. We are blessed to have Jackie as our Director of Music here at Stamford Presbyterian and she encourages anyone who wants to share their love of music to come and speak with her.

Pennie McVicar

Pennie McVicar is our church’s friendly and efficient Administrative Assistant. If you have a question about any of the activities going on at Stamford Presbyterian or you would like to include a notice in our weekly bulletin, please give Pennie a call at the church.

Rita Lane

Rita Lane has been with Stamford Presbyterian since she was a girl. Rita shows the true meaning of the word ‘care’ in the title ‘caretaker’ because she not only looks after our building, she also looks after us here at the church as well as those in our community.

Our congregation is blessed with many talented and big-hearted volunteers from our Session, Board of Managers and throughout our congregation. We work (and play) together in a community that seeks to know the Lord more fully, and share in the joy of being beloved children of God.

Courts of the Church


Our Session meets monthly and is responsible for the care of our congregation, our personnel, our strategic direction, our groups and all elements of worship and mission. Session members, called Ruling Elders, have 6-year serving terms and are selected by the congregation. Cheryl Olsen is the current Chair.

Board of Managers

The Board of Managers is responsible for all things related to the church building, properties and finances of the church. This group meets monthly and members have 3-year serving terms. New members are selected each year at the Annual General Meeting. Rita Lane is the current Chair.

Our History

A Brief History of Stamford Presbyterian Church

The history of our church is rich and fascinating. In 1776, following the outbreak of the American Revolution, a migration of those loyal to the Royal Crown came to settle in the area. These families who made the long and arduous trek to the Canadian side of the Niagara River came to be known as the United Empire Loyalists.

About 10 families of Scottish Presbyterian descent built their homes and livelihoods in the Stamford area. In 1784 the settlers began to worship in each others’ homes but seven years later the tiny congregation collected enough money, resources and man power to erect a log church called the Stamford Presbyterian Meeting House. The property also included a cemetery.

In the early days the church was served by itinerant ministers of any denomination and was also used for some time by the Anglicans and Methodists as this was the only place of worship in the area. In 1794 the congregation called their first full-time minister, Revered John Dun from Albany NY.

During the War of 1812 the church building was used as a military barracks and hospital.

In 1870 the current church building was built in ‘neat gothic style’ on the same site, using part of the original stone foundation. It cost $1,800. In 1895 amidst much controversy across the denomination, the first pump organ was introduced as aid during the singing of Psalms.

Stamford Presbyterian Church stayed loyal to its American roots for decades, only joining the Presbyterian Church in Canada in 1935.

A basement was added in the 1930s and an addition was added to the back of the building in 1956 and again in 1969.

The sanctuary today, although equipped with the modern comforts, maintains its historical charm in the interior design with lofty ceilings, a balcony and beautiful historical stained glass windows that cast an amber glow inside and outside the sanctuary. A Rose of Sharon stained glass window sits above the wooden double front doors.

In 2016 the congregation of Stamford Presbyterian Church received a Heritage Recognition Award for Aesthetic Merit from the Municipal Heritage Committee in recognition of the preservation of this church as a valued landmark in Niagara Falls.

This article was adapted from a piece written by Irene Ellis in 2006.