Original Church - 1922
New Church completed in 1955
Christian Education Wing completed in 1961
As part of the program of events in celebration of Fort Garry United Church’s 50th Anniversary, Bertha B. Peterson and Rudolph F. Peterson were casually asked if they would agree to write a brief history on Fort Garry United Church. At the annual meeting on January 31, 1971, the congregation voted to include this project as part of the planned celebrations for the church’s 50th anniversary. In their Forward the Peterson’s acknowledge appreciation to Merle Dayment for the drawings and expressed gratitude to the people who provided information. Their research and compilation of material culminated in the booklet entitled: “Fort Garry United Church: 1921 – 1971, 50th Anniversary”. This webpage is in memory of all those who contributed to the booklet, and dedicated to the many volunteers who have donated their time and talents over the years to Fort Garry United Church.
In 1920, two concerned residents of Fort Garry had many discussions with their fellow residents about the lack of a local church or Sunday School in the area. As a result of the concern raised, appeals were made in 1921 to the Winnipeg Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in Canada and to the Cooperative Committee (in Winnipeg) of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches to help establish a new union church. Further meetings and discussions were held with residents. On November 6, 1921, United Church, Fort Garry held its first service in a corridor of the old General Byng School (Beaumont Avenue), Rev. G.E. Perry D.D. conducted the service and Mrs. A. Baird played the organ and led the singing. However, due to the cramped quarters and cold temperatures, services were soon moved to Boyce’s Store (North Drive and Pembina Highway) with special events taking place in the Municipal Hall. During the summer and autumn of 1922, the Sunday morning services had to move to Fort Garry’s Municipal Hall (corner of Chevrier and Pembina) as Boyce’s store was required for business. All this time, the congregational women had been working with the men to achieve mutual goals in establishing a church building. These women decided their contribution would be more effective if they were an organized group. Thus, the Women’s Auxiliary of the United Church, Fort Garry was established.
In January, 1922, plans commenced for a new building to house this growing congregation. The location for this new building was North Drive and Pembina Highway. On Sunday, November 5, 1922 the first service was held at United Church, Fort Garry with 62 active members. The building was a well-constructed, albeit modest, 28 feet x 48 feet structure. The minister at the time was Dr. E. Leslie Pidgeon who served as Interim Moderator. United Church, Fort Garry flourished for the next few years.
Soon Sunday School classes and activities were organized and thrived. The first Sunday School picnic was held in July 1922 at Assiniboine Park, financed by the Women’s Auxiliary. Also, in July, Mr. E.P. Rayment succeeded Mrs. Baird as organist and a short time later became the adult choir leader as well.
In the Fall of 1923, the congregation felt it was ready for their own ordained minister and Rev. Sydney C. Studd accepted the call to United Church, Fort Garry and was instated on April 6, 1924. Later in the year, evening services were added along with the regular Sunday morning services.
When the United Church of Canada was consummated on June 14, 1925, United Church, Fort Garry entered the union and gradually became known as Fort Garry United Church (FGUC). However, the new name did not become predominant until January 1946 when the congregation passed a motion affirming the Church to be “Fort Garry United Church”.
During the ensuing years the church continued to grow and experience changes along the way. In 1927 Mrs. G.M. Farwell became the church’s organist following Mr. Rayment’s resignation. Perhaps one of the most notable achievements was that the young people of the church organized The Young People’s Union of Fort Garry United Church in 1928. The group met twice a week with their usual Sunday class and mid-week for a devotional period and/or special event.
In 1929, a new organ was purchased. Up to this point, the church was using an organ loaned by Augustine Presbyterian Church of Winnipeg. As the year closed, Fort Garry United Church boasted an active membership of 63.
Throughout the first eight years of FGUC, the Women’s Auxiliary played an instrumental role in the life and work of the church. The ladies raised funds for the purchase and maintenance of the church building, manse and furnishings for both. The fundraisers held to accomplish their goals were very creative and profitable. These events ranged from collecting coins in small boxes in homes to quilting bees to bazaars, bake sales, and auctions to dinners. The Auxiliary assisted the Board of Stewards with annual contributions. The Women’s Auxiliary also expanded their activities to include visitations to the homebound, bereaved, newcomers and families with new babies.
The 1930s (Depression Years)
This era was a decade of economic hardship across nations, including Canada; particularly on the prairies where severe drought was reducing crop yields. The ripple effect, of course, hit Winnipeg, and Fort Garry United Church (FGUC) was not immune to the consequences.
During this difficult economic time, FGUC was under the leadership of three different ministers. With their special qualities, and the dedicated efforts of lay ministers and FGUC supporters, regular programs were able to continue. The church also addressed the increased welfare needs in the community. In addition, FGUC answered calls from Presbytery to help people in needier areas outside its community.
The responsibilities for the finances, and maintenance of the church and the manse fell on the Board of Stewards. As its main source of income was from the members and supporters, the church found its financial situation to be critical. As incomes fell, so did the contributions. Consequently, the church was often in arrears requiring motions to be passed that the bills be paid ‘when funds became available’.
In 1933, the Board of Stewards devised plans to increase funds and reduce the church’s expenses. The ‘Central Advisory Committee’ was established by the stewards and assigned a number of functions: approach the existing church groups (Women’s Auxiliary, Canadian Girls in Training, Young People’s Union, Sunday School) to set a goal for raising funds, prepare a financial budget for the year and use discretionary oversight with various programs.
A variety of fund raising events were planned and held. For example, the Women’s Auxiliary facilitated special concerts, lectures and sales. The Auxiliary used their quilting bees to make warm bedding for the destitute families and sold some of the quilts with the revenue going toward their objective of increasing the church’s funds. Even the Sunday School children accepted the responsibility of raising money and brought in extra funds.
The Stewards took over the janitorial duties of the church and the maintenance of the grounds during the summer months. The envelope system for donations was producing larger returns. By the end of the year, the Board of Stewards together with the church organizations were very effective in saving money, raising funds and reducing the deficit. In January of 1934, the shortfall was eliminated with the voluntary gifts from the congregants present at the Annual Meeting. Rev. Harvey, Minister at the time, contributed by decreasing his already modest salary by $200.
Since many of the ways of saving or raising money were successful, they were implemented up to and including 1936. For instance, one austerity measure was that during the winter, the church would be heated for Sunday service only, as it was impossible to provide the labour and fuel. During the week, activities in the church still carried on with participants wearing their winter outerwear indoors to keep warm.
By 1937 the young people’s groups were waning. However, the newly appointed Rev. Lloyd C. Stinson was successful in inspiring children ages five to fourteen to attend services consistently. At the same time, there was a newly charged movement in The Canadian Girls in Training and the Trail Rangers. The Young People’s Union was becoming reenergized with an increased membership of 26 young people.
By the end of 1939 the financial books noted a small, but noteworthy, credit balance. Throughout this difficult decade, FGUC membership increased from 63 in 1930 to 102 at the close of 1939.
All the while, FGUC was implementing outreach programs both in Winnipeg and overseas. For example, money or personal aid was given to the Institute for the Blind and out of town camps for needy children. Contributions were made to the United Church of Canada through the Missionary and Maintenance Fund to be directed to overseas aid.
Despite the personal economic hardships and impoverished state of FGUC, the committed and active members enjoyed the camaraderie and optimism in their church. Many celebrations, concerts, and dinners were held during this time which bolstered fellowship.
Throughout the 1930s, Mrs. Farwell continued to play the organ for the morning services. The choir experienced a variety of changes during this time. It transitioned from a mixed choir to a ladies’ choir and then a girls’ choir. As the numbers were smaller at the evening services, a choir was not present and different church members took turns playing the organ. Then in 1939 an adult study group replaced the evening services all together.
Just as the world was emerging from the depression with unemployment rates dropping, the winds of war were sweeping over Europe.
As the ongoing challenges of church life were beginning to stabilize, new trials and tribulations faced Fort Garry United Church (FGUC). Still, there was ongoing faith and devotion to our church’s welfare. All the while, there was the time, energy and desire to celebrate goals achieved and special occasions.
In the autumn of 1939 Canada was at war and there was a sense of helplessness amongst individuals. So, for the next while daily living proceeded as normally as possible. Nonetheless, the ongoing faith and devotion to the Church and community welfare was demonstrated in many ways. Several men and women from FGUC enlisted with the forces and went into active service overseas. In 1943, the minister at the time, Rev. Sparling, initiated a Christmas letter writing campaign to these men and women. The letters continued on a quarterly basis for the rest of the war. The Women’s Auxiliary included small gifts at Christmas with the letters. When the men and women returned from duty, the congregational women prepared and served a Welcome Home Dinner to 76 veterans and their families.
Thanks to the Canadian Red Cross, the Women’s Auxiliary was able to collect boxes of materials to sew and knit garments such as scarves, toques, blankets, socks, afghans, pyjamas, quilts and prepare kits containing toiletries, needles, thread and buttons.
Some families assisted in other ways; such as opening their homes to NATO airmen who were in training. Others gave rationed food items; for example tea, coffee, butter, sugar, etc. or the ration coupons needed to purchase these items. Many volunteered their services at the downtown hospitality centres of the United Services Organization, sitting at railway stations answering questions, and serving tea and coffee to armed forces personnel passing through Winnipeg.
On November 2, 1941 FGUC celebrated its 20th anniversary with guest minister, Rev. S.C. Studd, leading a special service. The next evening, an anniversary dinner and program was held at the church. Professor J.H. Ellis gave a presentation on the origin and history of FGUC.
In the meantime, FGUC continued to evolve with the beginning of the Official Board of FGUC on April 7, 1942. The Board consisted of the minister, members of Session, Board of Stewards members and representatives of all key church organizations. This board assumed the responsibility of the increasing work load that had been done at full congregational meetings.
In this early part of the 1940s there was a combined effort of adults (particularly the Couples Club), young people and children to pay off the manse mortgage. By 1942 this goal was achieved. At the Annual Congregational Meeting on January 20, 1943, the Board of Stewards gave the cancelled mortgage deed to the clerk of the Session to destroy it.
When Rev. Sparling arrived at FGUC in 1942 there were no active youth groups, only “fair” attendance at Sunday School, and minimal missionary interest. He was instrumental in revitalizing the Tuxis group (a program for boys similar to scouting), the Canadian Girls in Training and the Young People’s Union. He also reestablished Special Easter and Christmas services as well as pre-communion classes giving the church a sense of renewed life.
At the same time, the church building on North Drive was becoming cramped due to additional demands coupled with the dramatically increasing population in the Municipality. Then in 1944 the Board chose a Building Fund Committee and then an Advisory Committee to contemplate types and costs of suitable buildings. In the later part of the year the Board picked a Building Committee to tend to the building operations. The records indicate that due to the efforts, energy and passion of Mr. L.R. Fennell (Chair, Building Committee and Board of Stewards) the ensuing operation was very successful.
The years immediately following the war (1946-1949) brought a shift in housing and development of the catchment area for FGUC, most notably the construction of Wildwood Park. The population grew as more young couples and young families moved into the area. Because of this influx of new families and the change in the centre of geographical area for FGUC to serve, the congregation voted in April 1947 that the church building should be located at Point Road and Lyon Street. Presbytery agreed with the choice.
With Official Board approval, the Building Committee plans were implemented with the existing structure being moved to the new site in October 1947. Plans included remodelling and enlarging the church in order to accommodate a new kitchen, washrooms and space for utility services such as heating. Once the building was completed, the auditorium could hold 240 people and the church hall downstairs could hold 200. During the time that the church was being moved and remodelled, Sunday services took place in General Steele School, across the street. The assorted church organizations were able to meet in homes, St. Paul’s Anglican Church or stopped meeting while construction took place on the “new” church. On December 21, 1947, the first service was held at the new site.
After more than 10 years as organist, Mrs. G.M. Farwell resigned from her position in 1941. At this time, Miss Connie Ellis took over as the regular organist until she resigned in 1947. Mrs. W.F. McCracken continued as choir leader until she resigned in 1947. The church records note that all three women were given tributes and expressions of gratitude.
Now FGUC was facing the task of searching for a new organist and choir leader. The Music Committee was assigned the responsibility of filling these two positions. In October 1947, the congregation welcomed the church’s new organist and choir leader, Mr. Clifton Worth. Mr. Worth was requested to increase the choir to include both men and women and by the end of 1947 he had done so. This new choir was officially organized with the election of a president, secretary-treasurer and librarian. In the spring of 1948, the Women’s Auxiliary presented the choir with a gift of a Hammond electric organ with two manuals and a twenty-five-note pedal board to replace the two and one-half octave harmonium with two push pedals.
The church historians felt the church was very fortunate to have Mr. Worth as organist and choir leader because under his direction, the choir provided the music for Sundays, special Easter services (including two on Easter Sunday), Candlelight Carol Service at Christmas and other special events as required. In 1970, at the time of writing the historical accounts for the 50th anniversary, Mr. Worth was still the organist and choir leader.
In 1948-49, new matching furniture was presented to the church which contributed to a dignified and beautified sanctuary. Two matching pulpit chairs were given to the church; one by Dr. W.A. Hogg in memory of his father, Rev. Hogg and the other by Mr. G. W. Farwell. Mrs. John Hallas gifted a baptismal font and Mrs. W.A. Moody presented a communion table in memory of her husband, Dr. W. A. Moody. As well, pews replaced the kitchen chairs as seating in the auditorium.
The Women’s Auxiliary was thrilled with the new luxurious kitchen as they now had hot and cold running water. Instead of a two-plate burner they now had an electric stove. For these ladies, catering for the church functions became much easier, more resourceful and even more enjoyable.
In 1948, more space was added to the church with the construction of a new room that would serve as the Vestry, the Sunday School and for other uses as needed.
At the time Rev. Sparling began as FGUC minister, Sunday School did not have an assigned Sunday School Superintendent. Rev. Sparling assumed this role for five years along with his expanding ministerial responsibilities. However, as the number of children attending the church was increasing, it became paramount to find a lay Superintendent for the Sunday School. Despite the efforts of a committee instructed to find a Superintendent in 1949, FGUC was without a Superintendent until 1951, at which time Mr. H.B. Lennox took on the role.
During 1946 and 1947, the Young People’s Union was not meeting but was regrouped in 1948. This organization had a strong program in 1948 and 1949.
In 1949 nursery, beginners, primary and junior classes began in General Byng School as an arm of the Fort Garry United Church Sunday School.
A new men’s service club (AOTS) was organized in 1949. Their primary undertakings included organizing the father and son banquet, helping with annual congregational picnic, obtaining male Sunday School teachers, establishing three hobby groups for boys from the ages of eleven to fourteen years;, and assisting with church celebratory functions. In order to encourage and support work with young people, the AOTS also hosted monthly educational and entertainment films, lectures on China, Boys’ Work and Youth Delinquency and Municipal Affairs.
During these post-war years Winnipeg was taking in “displaced persons” from war torn areas as well as other immigrants. The visiting committee of the Women’s Auxiliary reached out to the newcomers in the district by helping them find work and places to live, providing necessities such furniture, bedding and clothing, and helping some to attend night schools where they could learn English.
At the end of 1949, Church records indicated there were 231 active members. The church was evolving at a rapid rate to meet the ministerial needs of the increasing numbers of area residents and the arrival of immigrants to Winnipeg.
At the beginning of this decade the population of Fort Garry United Church (FGUC) service area was accelerating and would continue to do so as more baby boomers were born. This increase in the number of children posed serious issues as the numbers were overwhelming for effective teaching in Sunday School.
Then came the flood! Fortunately, the church was outside the flooded area and remained relatively unscathed, except for water in the basement. Rev. and Mrs. Sparling were very active in assisting with the flood; he on the dikes and she serving at a canteen organized in the Municipal Hall (Pembina and Chevrier). They also housed two evacuated families at the manse (923 Byng Place). Evacuated families were not allowed to return to their homes until health officials inspected the homes for decontamination. Many homes had to be completely restored before they passed inspection. This reconstruction and cleanup was not finished until well into 1951.
More and more United Church families were flowing into the district, rendering the church stretched to capacity. In 1952, a Special Building Committee was selected to review the situation and develop plans that would allow FGUC to hold the increasing numbers. One suggested sketch was a new building attached to the old building. This would function as a church hall for Sunday School and mid-week activities.
At the same time, Rev. Sparling left FGUC to answer the ministerial call from the United Church in Virden. A call was then presented to Rev. John V. Shaver who accepted and assumed his duties as FGUC’s new minister on October 1, 1952.
The Building Fund Campaign was initiated and with the help of a professional church-fund-raising organization, a campaign was launched requesting congregation members to make weekly pledges for a three year period. When the pledge period was over, there was still a $25,000 shortfall in necessary funds. In order to make up the deficit, the donors were asked to extend their pledges to the end of 1956, which they did.
MLA member, Mr. L.R. Fennell, laid the cornerstone of the new building on Sunday, January 2, 1955. On Sunday, April 10, the two worship services (9:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.) were held to a capacity crowd. On May 16th an exciting Dedication Service was carried out, with an Open House following. Honored guests included former pastors of FGUC with notable officials of the United Church including Rev. C.H. Whitmore, President of Winnipeg Presbytery, Rev. Hug A. McLeod, President of Manitoba Conference, and Rev. Hugh R. Percy from St. Paul’s Anglican Church.
Throughout 1954 and 1955, while construction was underway for the new building, organizations within the church met at Viscount Alexander School, St. Paul’s Anglican Church and private homes. Some people opened their homes for Sunday School classes as well. When the building was completed the additional space and enhanced amenities allowed for expansion of the Sunday School classes and the various organizations within the church.
In 1956, Fort Garry United Church celebrated its 35th Anniversary with a special Church Service on Sunday, November 4th. The following evening the Women’s Federation hosted a dinner and a special program. A comprehensive account of the Church’s first 35 years was compiled and written by Mrs. G.M. Farwell.
As the population increased west of Pembina, a Christian Education building was constructed in 1957 for the Sunday School children who had attended classes at General Byng School since 1949. This new building officially opened in October, 1957 and was located at the corner of Windermere Avenue and Daniel Street. For the families residing south of McGillivray Boulevard, a Sunday School was organized in 1957 and met in Ralph Maybank School. In 1958 these two groups formed new congregations; Windermere United Church and Westridge United Church (later renamed Donnelly United Church), respectively. Rev. Dr. W.E. Donnelly was the first ordained minister for (or for?) both Churches.
With the formation of these two churches, FGUC service catchment area became smaller. However, the congregation numbers for FGUC continued to increase. What seemed like a very roomy church in 1955 was now overflowing by 1958. There were 669 children registered with an average of 495 attending.
During this decade the choir increased its members from 15 singers to 30. Also, in the 1950s the Junior Choirs played an important role in the church. In the first part of 1952, Miss Eleanor Murray led a girls’ choir during the evening service and sometimes participated in the morning services. In the latter half of 1952, Mrs. M.J.V. Shaver took over the choir. From 1953 – 1956, Miss Carol Horwood (now Carol Kinsman) was organist and leader of a girls’ choir. This choir, aged 12 – 16 years assisted with the Youth Church at the evening services and sometimes helped with the morning services. Most of these choir members moved on to join the Senior Choir. When evening services were discontinued due to poor attendance, the Junior Choirs were disbanded.
In the interim, the AOTS men’s club continued operating from 1950 – 1953. Although the men stopped meeting as a club, they continued to donate their time and energy to the Church in other ways.
The goals of the Church and Sunday School to teach and apply its basic beliefs were carried into other programs during the week for children and young people. Four groups were supported by the Women’s Auxiliary (later known as Women’s Federation). The first group was the Cradle Roll which was comprised of children from birth to 6 years, with well over 300 attending during the 50s. The hope was that by the age of 6 these children would go on to attend Sunday School.
The second group, Mission Band, was comprised of boys and girls from the age of six to ten years of age. Their projects included scrapbooking for young children in hospitals.
The third group, Explorers, was comprised of girls aged nine to eleven years old. The program was a missionary study consistent with the United Church and related to the Women’s Missionary Society. One of the goals was to raise funds to be donated to the Society. Other program features included the study of church missions and giving books and toys to sick children in hospitals as well as to children at God’s Lake and other Aboriginal reservations.
C.G.I.T. was the fourth group with a comparable but more advanced program than the Explorers. This group, along with the Cradle Roll, Mission Band and Explorers raised money for the Church through teas and sales. All four groups contributed to special worship services such as candlelight, Christmas and Easter services as well as other events.
Wolf Cubs, Boy Scouts, Brownies and Girl Guides were other mid-week groups for children and young people. The cub groups had been meeting at St. Paul Anglican Church but by 1951 the population in this catchment area was too great for St. Paul’s to handle boys from both congregations. In March 1951, Wolf Pack No. 99 was created by Mr. R.C. Neilson at Fort Garry United Church. By 1959, 180 boys were part of the 99th Winnipeg Troop with 136 Cubs and 44 Scouts.
St. Paul Anglican Church also facilitated the Brownie program until 1951 when Fort Garry United Church started the 9th Brownie Pack. Membership in this pack remained constant through the 1950s with 30 Brownies.
In 1954 a Senior Young People’s Union commenced with a casual group. Membership stipulations later included: Grade XII standing or be at least 18 years of age. After they attended a stipulated number of meetings, they were considered voting members.
The Young People’s Union joined the Winnipeg Young People’s Presbytery in 1955 and, then joined the recently organized South Winnipeg District Council of Young People’s Unions. The Young People’s Union was a very active group visiting each other’s churches and playing a major role in services. They gathered a list of songs well-liked by young people and in 1959 published the Fort Garry Young People’s Song Book which was immediately utilized.
During 1957 the Junior Young People’s Union formed and met the needs of the 65 fourteen year olds. Similar to the Senior group of Young People, their agenda included inviting speakers to discuss missions, and the work of various service organizations; for example, the Victoria Order of Nurses. Both groups attended other churches, some completely distinct from Fort Garry United Church. The social part of their calendar included tobogganing, grey cup parties at the church, dances and picnics.
At the same time, the women’s “Circle” evolved into 20 circles by 1959 with over 320 members. The women conducted fund raising events such as Spring and Fall Teas which included bazaars and home-baking sales. Revenue was given to the Women’s Auxiliary who purchased pews, carpeting and other items for the church.
Since the number of youth groups supported by the Women’s Auxiliary was swelling, they were able to provide a liaison officer to attend executive meetings of the youth groups. This officer was able to provide moral and financial support and other assistance as needed. The Women’s Auxiliary worked with other church groups and was represented on committees such as the Board of Stewards.
In 1950 the Municipality of Fort Garry asked for a representative from FGUC to be a member of its Social Welfare Council. The Council’s work was twofold; firstly, to provide welfare assistance following the flood and secondly, to respond to the swelling populace in Fort Garry. FGUC contributed to the Council’s work by collecting and donating used clothes and other items. At Christmas time, hampers consisting of a complete family dinner and a toy for each child were put together and donated to needy families.
Rev. Shaver resigned from FGUC in 1959 to take on the role of United Church Chaplain at the University of British Columbia. A call was offered to Rev. Donald G. Ray to be FGUC’s next minister. Rev. Ray accepted and began his ministry on January 1, 1960. However, it was discovered in the fall of 1959 that the manse at 93 Byng Place was in dire need of repair. It was decided to sell this house and purchase a new manse at 116 Buxton Road for the new minister and his family.
The total number of active members at Fort Garry United Church was 693 at the close of 1959.
The 1960s and 1970s
A new year, a new decade, and a new minister faced with the enviable problem of a congregation that was ever-increasing in numbers. Rev. Ray started his ministerial work with Fort Garry United Church (FGUC) confronted by the fact that the space required for worship, Sunday School and mid-week activities was again too small.
At the same time that the congregation was growing, so was programming in the church. A Christian Education Committee was organized to manage and provide an overall course on the Church’s Christian education work. In October of 1960, Miss Donna Patterson was chosen as full time Christian Education Director with her obligation being to ensure the Christian Education program was implemented and operational. To accomplish this, it was determined that a Christian Education addition should be attached to the Church building.
A Building Committee was selected by the Official Board with a Finance Committee included at a later date. More than 100 members developed a Canvass Organization. Mr. H.E.D. Stephenson was General Chairman and Mr. K.A. Stuebing was Canvas Chairman. At the same time, a “Hostess Committee” comprised of church ladies conducted a telephone campaign to the members and church advocates, to provide information on the building campaign and the Loyalty Dinner. These women were also hostesses at the Loyalty Dinner where attendees learned of the church’s plans and requirements.
Throughout November 1960 a profitable canvass was undertaken to secure pledges for the new wing. In the spring of 1961, construction began on the Christian Education addition and by fall the building was completed. The Women’s Auxiliary (Women’s Federation), donated money to furnish the new building. With the leadership of Mrs. N.H. Brand, the newly formed Furnishings Committee urged the various church committees to assist with the building’s furniture, etc. On October 29th there was a dual celebration – the opening of the Christian Education wing and the Church’s Fortieth Anniversary.
After the second Sunday service, following the opening of the new wing, a ceremony was conducted at which time Mr. W.T. Lough, Building Committee Chairman, placed the date stone at the Christian Education Building site. The Act of Dedication was held the following Wednesday, November 1st. The renovated original church building was given to the Hungarian United Church and relocated to their chosen Winnipeg location.
The combination of Miss Patterson’s guidance, a larger space, and improved arrangements in the Christian Education Centre, created the impetus for a rapid increase in Sunday School registration and turnout. There was enough room for classes and the related units to meet at one time and still have enough space between them to enhance learning and allow for more sophisticated teaching methods. At this time, training classes were developed for the teachers along with conversations on teaching materials and methods. As well, a library was established in 1961 to supply source material for Christian Education leaders as well as for the benefit of the congregants.
In comparison to resolving the issue of the Christian Education needs, it was somewhat more straightforward to resolve the issue of overcrowding at Sunday Church Services. During this time of growth, the addition of two, and occasionally three services a week ensured ministry to all congregants.
In 1963, Miss Donna Patterson left FGUC to assume the responsibilities of a comparable position at Knox United Church in Brandon. Mrs. A. Veldhuis took on the role at FGUC for a short period, but she and her husband soon went to the Indian Mission at God’s Lake, Manitoba to work as missionaries. At last in 1966, Miss Doreen Pitt took on the double role of Deaconess and Christian Education Director. While in these positions, she accomplished a great deal both within and outside the church. In 1970, Miss Pitt resigned to take up the position of Christian Education Director at the Dauphin United Church.
In the meantime, there was a concerted effort to encourage parents to become involved in Sunday School lessons. The thought was that children would learn by example if parents applied the Christian beliefs and standards at home. It was emphasized that the children were under the guidance of Church School for only 30 hours a year. It was feared that if the children experienced attitudes and behaviours at home that were different than the teachings at Church School the prevailing values and morals established at home would win out.
By the mid-1960s, registration and attendance in Sunday School was starting to decrease; particularly amongst the older children. The number of Sunday School children dropped from 620 in 1962 to 500 in 1965 and 220 in 1970. This decrease reached a level considered “normal” as compared to the trend in various churches across Canada and in other countries.
General church membership during the 1960s did not encounter a concurrent dramatic change in numbers. In 1960 the number of active members was 738 and this increased to 840 in 1963. However, by 1970 membership had dropped to 761.
It appeared that the changing cultural lifestyle may have contributed to the declining membership in the 1970s. More women were working outside the home which had a twofold impact. One was greater affluence which allowed families to travel and spend longer time away from home. The other was that women now had less time and energy to give to the church due to the demands of a job plus family commitments. With an increase in affluence came an increase in the ownership of vacation homes, which meant members spent summer months (and many Sundays) at the lake. In addition, increased and varied options for leisure activities in the community and city competed with the events that would normally draw members to the Church. Changes in Church related involvement was also seeing the effect in the way the age distribution in the population was changing.
The mid-week groups experienced variability in their numbers but carried on with their vital work all through the 1960s. Part of the reason for the fluctuations was due to the changing availability of leaders. The groups that persisted during this period were Messengers (replacing Mission Band in 1962), Explorers, and Canadian Girls in Training, Brownies and Girl Guides, Wolf Cubs and Boy Scouts. The groups that functioned for a portion of this decade included Young People’s Union, Hi-C’s (replacing the Junior Young People’s Union in 1962), and Kairos (replacing the Senior Young People’s Union in 1964).
From its beginning stages and throughout the ensuing decades, the Senior Choir has continually given outstanding leadership in music for weekly and special services. Their excellent work was enriched even more with the extremely generous gift of a beautiful Baldwin electronic organ from Mr. and Mrs. H.E.D. Stephenson. Mr. Clifton Worth who was the organist and choirmaster served in this role for 24 years in 1971; the same year as the Church’s 50th anniversary.
Women in Fort Garry United Church have played an integral role over the years in its growth and sustainability. They have contributed to the church under the umbrella of the Women’s Federation (Women’s Auxiliary). In 1961, the Women’s Auxiliary and Women’s Missionary Society initiated plans and talks to officially merge at the national level. On January 1st, 1962 the United Church Women (UCW) was formally inaugurated, complete with a constitution and by-laws. The UCW at FGUC assisted with the work of at least 10 external organizations including the Institute for the Blind, mental health patients and the Church Home for Girls. At FGUC, in 1970, there were 12 UCW units with approximately 100 members.
Rev. Ray was a key player in the creation and work of a ‘Community Council’. This Council was made up of a group of clergymen from United, Anglican and Roman Catholic churches who gathered to talk about worrisome issues for vulnerable citizens. Other Council members included representatives from organizations with comparable concerns; such as the Children’s Aid Society, social workers and Christian Education Directors. The Council’s discussions revolved around issues such as welfare, affecting both the young and older community members. On occasion, some of the “at risk” younger and older individuals met with the Council to “air their views as to the sins of omission and commission of church, state, and schools”.
From 1967 to 1970, the Session, Committee of Stewards, and official Board of Fort Garry United Church seriously contemplated reorganizing the church’s governing bodies into a single board that would be responsible for all duties performed by the three aforementioned groups.
During the year of 1968 there were significant changes for FGUC. A congregational division of the Canadian Bible Society, led by Mrs. N. Neuman was established within FGUC. In addition, a Staff Relations Committee was created with Mr. Arthur McLean as Chairman. As well, in 1968, the University of Winnipeg awarded Rev. Ray with an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree. The congregation was thrilled to present him with a Geneva Doctorate gown.
Rev. Ray proclaimed early in 1970 that he would be taking on the role of Associate Secretary to the General Council of the United Church of Canada. His last service was Sunday, April 26, 1970. In the meantime, the congregation offered a call to Rev. Donald C. Frame, Trinity United Church in Edmonton. Rev. Frame accepted the call and started his ministerial responsibilities in early August. His induction as minister of Fort Garry United Church took place on September 21st, 1970. Dr. Gordon Harland was interim minister during the time between Rev. Ray’s departure and Rev. Frame’s start date.
At the beginning of 1970, it was determined that the manse on Buxton Road fell below Winnipeg Presbytery standards. This house was sold, and a new manse was purchased at 38 Ruttan Bay.
Late in 1970, the Memorial Fund was proposed and in 1971 it was implemented. The Fund allowed members and Church friends to donate to the Fund and stipulate the purpose of the donation. The donor could also leave the use of the donation to the discretion of the Memorial Fund Committee. A Memorial Fund book lists the donor’s name and person/persons who are commemorated. The book was placed on a lovely stand which is inscribed with: ‘Presented to Fort Garry United Church in Loving Memory of Elinora Marie Ellis by her family’.
The Fiftieth Anniversary
When Fort Garry United Church (FGUC) planted its roots in 1921, Fort Garry was considered a rural district. By 1971, Fort Garry had grown into an extensive residential area, as well as a bustling industrial and business sector. While the physical landscape of Fort Garry changed over time, the original beauty has been maintained. People have changed over time as well, with traditional ideas and values being challenged by the young people, both through the school and the church.
On January 31, 1971 at the FGUC Annual Meeting, the Fiftieth Anniversary Program Committee was formed with Mr. J.M. MacTavish as Chairman. The Committee was comprised of individuals representing each of the church groups. The Committee’s purpose was to prepare a slate of special events in celebration of the 50th Anniversary year. As mentioned in the Introduction, plans were already underway to write a 50 year history of the church.
The celebration schedule was as follows:
April 24 United Church Women’s Tea, honoring the pioneer women
May 9 Family Luncheon, served by United Church Women, Unit 18
June 13 Outdoor Worship Service in Crescent Drive Park
June 16 Family Congregational Picnic in Assiniboine Park
October 15 “Jubilee Feast”, organized by the Couples’ Club
October 17 Dr. D. B. Sparling Guest Preacher
October 30 Coffee Party and Bazaar of the United Church Women
November 7 Anniversary Church Service
Fort Garry United Church published history
The Tea and Family Luncheon brought many people and families together for a memorable fellowship while enjoying good food. The outdoor worship service was held in a lovely treed area of Crescent Drive Park that had been used many times over the years for various church events. The picnic in Assiniboine Park was interrupted with periods of rain. However, this did not stop the enthusiasm or the races and sports enjoyed by all who were there. The Jubilee Feast was considered an evening to remember with Merle Dayment’s drawings showing highpoints of FGUC’s history, stories regaled by Couples’ Club members, and enthusiastic singsongs. The evening was made all the more special with Rev. and Mrs. D. B. Sparling in attendance.
Dr. Sparling was guest speaker at the following Sunday service and he reminisced about his days as FGUC’s minister. He also spoke of the importance of keeping particular values and standards in the church’s life and teachings. Following this service, several people gathered in the lounge to speak with Dr. and Mrs. Sparling.
The October 30th coffee party and bazaar was deemed an enjoyable and interesting event.
On November 7th, 1971, Rev. D.C. Frame conducted the 50th Anniversary Service. At this service there were several moments of celebration, starting with a Proclamation of Faith. Vibrant memories of past years were told by three members – Dr. J.H. Ellis, Mr. L.R. Fennell and Mrs. Frank (Ina) Brown (daughter of an early church family). Bertha Peterson and Rudolph Peterson who gathered material and wrote a synopsis of the church’s history presented the manuscript at this same celebratory service.
Since the mortgage on the church and manse on Buxton Road were repaid in full, this called for a celebration when the cancelled deed was presented by the Chairman of the Committee of Stewards (Mr. Gordon Webster) to the Vice Chairman of the Session (Miss Ruth Matheson).
The Senior and Junior Choirs regaled the congregation with their voices leading in the worship service and offering special gifts of song. The Junior Church School children held a candlelight parade down the centre aisle and placed their lit candles on the birthday cake at the front of the Church. Next was a responsive reading that marked a celebration of the present and future and was extremely relevant to the circumstances of the day. The offering received was given to a Home for Indian Students in Winnipeg.
After the service, congregants were invited to the lounge for coffee and fellowship with former members, many of whom travelled great distances to be there for the occasion.
Bertha Peterson and Rudolph Peterson ended their historical sketch with words of praise for all those who contributed so much to the life and work of FGUC. They expressed a sense of being overwhelmed with the amount of time and energy given by many hundreds of members and friends of FGUC. Bertha and Rudolph end their historical account paying tribute to all our ministers, congregations and volunteers. It is only fitting to end this portion of our history directly quoting from their booklet: “Fort Garry United Church: 1921-1971, Fiftieth Anniversary”.
“First, it must be said that this church has been greatly blessed by the inspiration, leadership and dedicated service given by its ministers and their wives. The many supply, exchange, and guest ministers have also made their great contribution. And, in the lay members of the congregations, we think of the officers and members of the various church boards and committees; officers and teachers of the Sunday Schools, and leaders of the many mid-week groups; officers and members of the Women’s Auxiliary, Women’s Federation, and United Church Women; members of the various Senior and Junior Choirs, their leaders and organists; the Church secretaries, treasurers and sextons; and the many others who have made their contributions in positions and organizations not here mentioned. A great many have contributed importantly to the life and work of the Church outside of formal positions and organizations. To all of those the church and community owe a deep debt of gratitude. The challenge remains for all who follow to continue to work in their spirit, to the glory of God under ever changing and challenging conditions.”
This was a year of both excitement leading up to the 50th Anniversary of Fort Garry United Church (FGUC), and challenges created as society questioned its core values, attitudes, the Church, and God. Throughout the year, Rev. Don Frame conveyed a sense of optimism and encouraged the members to seize the opportunity to move in new directions.
The excitement and anticipation of the 50th Anniversary began early in the year as committees were organized and plans were formulated. Requests were made for stories, authentic documents, and pictures to supplement the historical account, in order to commemorate this momentous anniversary. See 50th Anniversary for a commentary of the festivities and special services that took place throughout the year.
In the meantime the Church was evolving with three notable additions to our resources and services. Firstly, the library was organized by Marion Denike and made more accessible to the Church members. Secondly, the Memorial Fund was implemented at the beginning of the year. Thirdly, a primary choir and a youth choir were established. Since the choirs needed leadership a call went out to the congregation asking interested individuals to contact Bev Jacobs, Cliff Worth or Bert Caine. Bev Jacobs became the Junior Choir Leader. At the same time, approval was given for $300 to assist those wishing to attend a music training seminar in B.C.
In the spring of 1971, the Committee of Stewards expressed concern over the general condition of the building and the necessary repairs to get it into shape. At the June meeting, the Stewards approved repairs to the foundation, improvements to the landscaping, painting of the narthex and Sunday School rooms, repair the church floors, and major work on the heating and water systems. Approval was also given for needed repairs at the manse.
In the monthly newsletters Rev. Frame’s writings drew the congregation’s attention to its faith and pulled everyone’s attention to FGUC’s past, present and future in terms of being at a cross roads. In his message in the annual report, he said there were deficiencies in caring for both the young and older people. At the same time Rev. Frame felt the church was not doing well in adult education because opportunities were not being provided for enrichment of faith or growth in our self-understanding and relationships. He mentioned that some felt the needs of the congregation were not being met. However, Rev. Frame was very hopeful with the “real vigor and vitality” prevalent in the Church. He admired the dedication and concern of many who continued to give in a variety of ways.
During this year, the life of FGUC continued in the same manner in some areas but evolved in significant ways in other areas.
The United and Anglican Churches collaborated on new hymn books which were published this year. The official board agreed to purchase the hymnals and suggested families purchase the books for $3.75 each. Families could buy the books as memorial gifts or simply as a gift on behalf of their family.
In October the Worship Committee recommended a format be developed for weddings including a minimum fee structure for the organist, soloist and caretaker. While the matter was tabled for further study, this important advancement in the life of the church would be revisited at a future time.
On the anniversary Sunday, November 7th, the cancelled mortgage deed and the history of Fort Garry United Church were presented to the congregation. Copies of the history were available for sale at $2.00 per booklet.
A Coffee House for Young People
In February approval was granted for a group of young people (16-20 years) to use the lower hall, kitchen, coffee urns, tables and chairs for a coffee house. Under the guidance of the Social Action Committee the Coffee House was held on Friday evenings.
United Church Women (UCW)
The UCW celebrated their 50th anniversary this year. By all accounts, 1971 was deemed a very successful year for the UCW. In the nine meetings held, they had speakers from Age and Opportunity, West Pakistan, Pollution Probe, Salvation Army and Canadian Consumer’s Association. These women hosted a 50th Anniversary Tea in April and a coffee party in October. The group purchased an electric kettle and small coffee urn for the Church and donated a large tea pot.
There was a less than hoped for response to registration with only14 girls (12-16 years of age) signing up to join. However, they were very committed to the organization and held activities that included a cook-out supper, handicraft projects, preparations for Vesper Service, a pot luck supper, Valentine’s Day dessert party, and bible study.
Twenty-nine girls (ages 9 – 11 years old) enrolled. Two explorations were completed before Christmas – “Being an Explorer” and “The Story of My Church”. A short exploration on the meaning of Christmas was finished in the first term of the program.
There were 16 children enrolled in this program. They studied the customs of China and Italy in their preparation for Christmas. They saved pennies for the Pakistan Refugee Fund and studied Africa after Christmas.
99th Cub and Boy Scouts
One-hundred seventy-seven boys (143 cubs and 34 scouts) were in attendance. Activities for both included two church parades. One parade was held in Fort Garry United Church and the other was a district parade, comprised of the entire Pembina area and services were held in the St. Vital Catholic Church. A successful father/son banquet was held. A good time was had by all who attended Camp Gilwell in Gimli. Other activities included a candy sale, hikes, canoe trips, kite contests and visitations to various industries.
September’s enrollment turned out to be 50% less than the expected number of children, which presented challenges to programme planning. The total enrollment was 225 with an average attendance for the year of 175. This record, combined with a noticeable drop in regular Church attendance was attributed to the changing attitudes and thinking related to parents’ willingness to bring their children to Sunday School on a regular basis. As a result it was difficult to develop meaningful lessons for the Sunday School curriculum.
The Senior Choir membership remained constant. However, there was an urgent request for members in the Alto, Tenor and Bass sections. The repertoire of music was expanded to include contemporary anthems, especially at Easter and Christmas. Plans were made for a Variety Programme in mid-April.
The Junior Choir membership increased from 25 to 47. They helped with the entertainment at the Church’s 50th Anniversary Tea in April. The Choir sang in October, November and December. They also sang at the C.G.I.T. Vesper Service and went caroling to nursing homes and to shut-ins at their own homes.
Interesting statistics for 1971 included that 3 communion services were held; average Sunday attendance was 350; 31 marriages were performed; 20 baptisms and 15 funerals took place.
Streamlining Board Processes
Since the beginning of FGUC’s history, the church structure was comprised of two groups. One was the Session which was responsible for the spiritual health of the congregation. Their members were called Elders. The other group was the Stewards and their members were called Stewards. They were responsible for the financial health of the congregation which included care of the property. When the two groups met together they were the official board.
Early in the year, a planning committee was set up to study the reorganization of the Session to make it more effective and to study the needs of the Church. Meetings were held. Session proposed and adopted a new scheme in June and implemented it in the Fall. In September, Chairmen of various committees were selected. The committees included Worship, Pastoral Care, Christian Education, Reservations, Representative to Presbytery, Liaison from Stewards, Social Action, Planning and Human Resources. These committees met monthly and operated within the framework of reference of the Constitution. The Executive Committee met monthly and the official board met quarterly.
In the Annual Report, Rev. Frame emphasized the need to be clear on the goals we hoped to achieve, given the narrowing options open to us. He expressed encouragement and hope about our life as a congregation; praising those who gave of their time and energy. Rev. Frame was optimistic that given our resource pool of people, energy and vision, Fort Garry United Church (FGUC) could be a creative part of the nearby community as well as the wider society.
Session (largely responsible for spiritual health and growth) functioned under the new structure which was introduced in September 1971. At the January Executive Committee of Session, Reverend Frame reported that the ministers from Fort Garry United, Windermere United, St. Paul’s Anglican and St. Vital Catholic churches along with Rev. Tim Sale of the Urban Church Council, Winnipeg Presbytery had been discussing ways in which they could cooperate and work together to share concerns, frustrations, problems and strengths. More details were requested. At this meeting, Session passed a motion to cover expenses for Rev. Frame to attend a 3 day workshop at Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan regarding Multiple Staff Ministry, along with other ministers in this area.
At the February meeting of the entire Session, the Worship Committee presented a report which included procedures and facilities available for weddings. A fee structure of $15 for the organist; $10 for a soloist; and $5.00 for the caretaker was established. For non-members, a motion was passed to implement a fee of $50 for facility use and $20 for the Minister’s Benevolent Fund. In this same report, the Worship Committee informed Session they were trying to obtain lay speakers from the congregation to take the occasional service which would allow Rev. Frame a weekend off. Session suggested that more services involve lay participation in scripture readings and prayers. There was a request for congregants who played instruments to participate in these services. It was also recommended to the Music committee to vary the music by using more hymns from the new hymn book.
The Worship Committee reported that elders serving Communion this year would include women. In addition, this committee was giving some thought to monthly themes for Sunday worship. The Committee advised Session that plans were being formulated for joint services with St. Paul’s during July and August. It was noted that a representative from Fort Garry was to attend St. Paul’s next Worship Committee meeting.
At the March Session of Council, Rev. Frame read a “Proposal for Team Ministry” which had also been presented to His Eminence George Cardinal Flahiff, C.S.B., Archbishop of Winnipeg and the Right Reverend Barry Valentine, Bishop of Rupertsland. Two suggestions were made in the proposal. The first, being an agreement in principal from those hearing the proposal, to the idea of a cooperative ministry to be shared by the four congregations: St. Vital Roman Catholic Church, St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Fort Garry United, and Windermere-Westridge United Church. The second suggestion was to give body, substance and symbolic reality to the proposal, that is, to agree in principal to have the professional staffs of the congregations move together into a common office in the spring for a trial period of two years. The Session was informed that St. Maurice School would serve as the common office. Some of the perceived problems included that the Church office would no longer be used which would be a change for the congregation and that there would be extra costs involved in the new office. The Official Board approved the proposal in principle for shared ministry in areas where the ministers are able to work together. The Board also passed a motion that they agreed in principle to having the professional staffs of the congregations move together for a trial period of two years.
Also in March, the Planning Committee held two evenings entitled “Where Now, Lord?” The purpose of the two meetings was to give an opportunity to congregation members to voice concerns, ask questions and contribute to the shape of the congregation’s life. The goal was to ascertain the needs and concerns of the church with the hope of developing insights to the direction we should take. Many concerns were voiced and the Planning Committee considered these matters. The issues were sent to the various committees of Session to determine how the problems could be resolved.
In April the church participated in the “Third World, Our World” along with Windermere United Church, St. Paul’s Anglican Church and St. Vital Roman Catholic Church. Concern was expressed for the under developed nations and the poverty of the world. In addition, a panel discussion took place on the subject of “abortion” and participants included Rev. Mac Watts, Dr. J.C. McCawley (obstetrician and Gynaecologist) and Mrs. Leona Chalmers from the “League of Life”.
At the May Session, meeting costs for joint ministry were discussed and it was revealed that Fort Garry’s expenses for the first year would be $594. A motion was passed at the June 12th Session Council meeting to appoint six or eight people from the congregation to meet with similar groups in the other churches and collectively meet with the Urban Church Council to consider possible benefits of a Joint Style of Ministry.
In keeping with achieving new goals and moving forward, the Planning Committee submitted a Communications report in which they expressed the need to have open communication with youth, general congregation and Sunday congregation to seek ideas, thoughts and suggestions to increase their involvement with the Church. At the same time, information would flow to these groups via the newsletter which would be comprised of information on social action, information on opportunities for congregational commitment; eg. sick visiting, driving seniors.
At the November 14th Full Session meeting Audrey McLennan reported that an Adult Discussion group had been formed as well as a Junior High Discussion Group. As well, Verna McKay led a group that is studying what we are to accomplish in the Sunday School as a result of the Where Now Lord? Series.
Church week Sunday was planned for November 19th with the Sunday School preparing songs and handwork. The Junior High group made a seven-minute film. Worship service was shortened so the congregation could visit the Sunday School.
Committee of Stewards
This committee (primarily responsible for finances and physical premises) found the year to be one of anxiety and yet satisfaction as the year drew to a close. The cause of the anxiety was the anticipated large maintenance costs for the heating system would prevent the Church from meeting its target of $18,500 for Mission and Service Fund. However, thanks to the generous aid from those responding to the special appeal the goal was met.
The Committee also reported the bank loan on the Manse was retired in full, thus leaving the Church facilities debt free.
During the year a substantial amount of exterior and interior work was done to improve landscaping adjacent to the Church for improved drainage, as well as exterior and interior painting A note of gratitude was extended to Mr. L. Churchill who utilized his talents to enhance the premises, allowing for substantial monetary savings.
The Committee raised concerns about future expenditures need for improvements on the flooring in the Sanctuary and Narthex including replacing carpet in the aisles and other worn areas, a better sound amplification system, better ventilation in the Sanctuary, upgrading drapes in the Christian Education building, etc. The large scale renovation was being considered by a special committee of the Official Board, composed in part of Stewards.
In May, Winnipeg Presbytery developed a report entitled “On Account of Our Stewardship” and the Steward Committee met in October to discuss it. The report identified FGUC’s strengths as being rich in resources, talented individuals and affluence. Weaknesses included a lack of real commitment which seemed to be universal according to the report.
The group realized there must be a shift from the traditional local pastoral care to one of constant self-analysis and flexibility; becoming sensitive to change and at least anticipate future needs. The success of “Where Now, Lord” was an illustration of meaningful dialogue with members and the ability to set priorities. Since the congregation was very much in favor of Mission and Service (M&S), the recommendation was made to establish an M & S committee with its purpose very clearly defined.
Ralph Donnelly and Bruce Gunn prepared a proposal to address issues surrounding the purpose and nature of the life of Fort Garry United Church. In their preliminary assessment they acknowledged the 50th’anniversary, recognized the congregation structure was in a state of transition, and identified the need for answers to basic questions. What are we here for? Who are we? What are our needs? What is going on in our community and how can we help? Developing goals and strategies to achieve them were also part of the assessment.
Ralph and Bruce developed a proposal in which they suggested the Planning Committee develop a plan to involve the congregation to evaluate the purpose and nature of the Church’s life at this point in time. Their proposal also included the program be initiated in the spring and move to the decision making phase by the congregation in January of 1973. The proposal was comprised of three phases; the first being Assessment; the second being Plan for Action and the third phase being Implementation.
In October, Rev. D.C. Frame, Norman Brand, Jack deZeeuw, Paul Thain, Ruth Matheson and Marilyn Adam met to discuss a report written by Winnipeg Presbytery entitled “An Account of Our Stewardship”. They were not surprised to learn of the accelerated rate of decline in numbers and stewardship in the church nationally. They did express concern over the fact that Winnipeg Presbytery was declining at a faster rate than the national or Manitoba Conference average. The report cited possible causes for the decline and hampering future growth as: the slipping influence of the church on families, lack of real commitment to the church, rapidly changing and permissive society, and change in life style (particularly in the summer). The report recognized the need to be sensitive to change and anticipate future needs. Two goals were highlighted – a more people-centered congregation; and, cooperative ventures with other churches.
Social Action Committee
In January, the Social Action Committee looked into Family Life Education in Fort Garry Schools. The Committee found there was no integrated program for Family Life Education from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Several recommendations were presented to the Committee of the Session, all of which encouraged families, the Church, and church members to take an active role in encouraging and/or offering suggestions for developing a comprehensive program by qualified teachers.
The Committee was formulating plans for activities for the Junior High Group as the “Drop In Centre” ceased to function. By the end of the month a Junior High group was meeting in the Lower Hall on Friday evenings.
At the same time concern was raised for older people who might be experiencing alienation; a lack of activities; a need for Christian education, counselling, visiting, help to get to medical appointments or shopping; and a lack of resource information. Solutions developed to address these concerns included a visitation program to hospitals, geriatric centres and homes, study groups, taping sermons, delivering church bulletins, partnering young and elderly persons for shopping, etc. It was suggested a sponsorship for drop in centres, volunteer shopper aids and information centres could be provided by several churches.
Memorial Fund Committee
Since the Fund’s beginning, almost 2 years previous, a total of $1905.75 had been banked after all disbursements. The Committee discussed numerous ideas for purchases but the decision was made to await the Planning Committee’s report on renovations before making final decisions.
Sally Shwetz was hired in October 1972 and started to work to bring Sunday School, mid-week groups and the congregation together, providing opportunities to participate together and be aware of the total life of the Church. Two dinners were held, one in November and the other on New Year’s Eve. Families shared working, playing and eating together at both dinners. During the Christmas season children participated in White Gift Sunday and lighting the Advent candles.
Christian Education Committee
In the Annual Report, this Committee said the members were attempting to develop a program which responded to people’s needs, equipping us to help one another find meaning in life and to cope with the fundamental issues of life. The Committee hoped to provide a variety of opportunities for personal and spiritual growth, for studying the Christian Faith, for participation, involvement, response and growth. In a special meeting with the Committee Stewards, Audrey McLennan explained a proposal of the CE Committee of Session to hire resource people for Church organizations. After considerable study and weekly meetings since the “Where Now, Lord” meetings, the decision was made to hire a Volunteer Coordinator who would recruit teachers and leaders to better prepare themselves for their endeavours. The proposal was accepted by the Session and after considerable discussion on the financial aspect it was accepted by the Stewards. A motion was passed by Stewards to recruit Sally Schwetz who the CE Committee felt was well qualified for the position.
This Committee established the goal of developing a well-stocked library as a means to increasing our congregation’s awareness of the potential role of the Church and to help people grow with a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. By September the library was well underway with new resources expected to be added.
Boys and girls in grades four and up comprised this group and they met every Tuesday at 4:30pm in the upper hall of the CE building. In January there were 35 in attendance. The choir sang once a month at Church services and in the spring entertained the U.C.W. “Soup’s On” luncheon. The members who were available in June participated in an Ecumenical service and workshop at St. Ignatious Roman Catholic Church along with other children from Mennonite, Roman Catholic and United Churches.
In September, the group was considerably smaller but enthusiastic. They continued to sing at monthly church services, the Christmas Eve service, and went carolling at the Golden Door Nursing Home, Kiwanis Plaza and to private homes of shut ins in the community.
Total enrollment for 1972 was 245 with an average attendance of 180. Special events undertaken included: special Easter projects, Parent’s Day activities, collecting for UNICEF which netted $140, Church Week celebrations, Christmas party and Advent Services. The Junior High Group prepared 15 Christmas hampers with help from the Friday Night Drop In Group.
United Church Women
With 11 units operating there was a total of 125 members with 12 life members. Nine general meetings were held with an average attendance of 25 members. Contributions made to the community included delivering flowers to the sick, sorting and delivering used clothing to the needy, knitting bandages, helping the Mental Health Organization, visiting nursing homes, babysitting and donating money to other organizations. In November, Mr. B. Perrin gave a presentation to the UCWof the proposed plans for renovations to the Church.
Approximately 25 girls aged 9 to 11 were members of this group and met each Wednesday from 6#45 until 8 pm. During January and February, the girls worked on their Mission Exploration which was a study of Africa. In March, parents were invited to a display of their exploration. Other explorations included making a Mission offering during a “Dedication to Mission” service at the Sunday service as well as a tour to CBC in March.
Cliff Worth continued as director and membership was deemed satisfactory but welcomed new members in every section. Besides participating in weekly worship services, the choir presented a very successful concert in May with proceeds going towards the purchase of a new piano. With the help of members from the congregation, the choir presented a Christmas pageant. Choir members packed and delivered a Christmas hamper to a needy family in the area.
On Monday afternoons about 26 children from Kindergarten to Grade three met in the lower hall. Living by their motto of “That we should love one another”, they studied Africa and caring for other children in our world. The children used art, discussion, drama and clay to express their love which was emphasized in their study.
Statistics for the year
Total Membership December 31 – 901
Communion – 5 times
Marriages – 24
Deaths – 18
Session council meetings – 10
Happenings through the Year
In January, The Official Board arranged for a Pot Luck supper for the Annual Congregational Meeting to make it a family event. Entertainment was included and children went to a carnival planned for them. Meanwhile the adults dealt with the business of the Annual Meeting.
In March, World Development was the Lenten theme. Activities included guest speaker Dr. Raymond Currie who spoke to the congregation about the problems of development. There was an opportunity for FGUC members to attend a meeting on March 16th at St. Vital Roman Catholic Church to look at the problems of World Development. There was also an opportunity for members to discuss the problems of Trade and Tariffs and to make recommendations that would eventually be sent to the Government as it prepared for the G.A.T.T. Conference in the fall.
Also in March, Reverend Frame and a small group of individuals discussed the role of the United Church in a Free Enterprise position. There seemed to be a sense that the Church supported the Socialist position. Reverend Frame’s response was to indicate the Church’s role is to continually ask about goals and purposes and direction. He expressed the opinion that when the Church commits itself to supporting any system, it is practicing idolatry (the religious practice of worshipping idols). Reverend Frame was saddened to learn there was a general opinion amongst some that ministers only say what the congregations want to hear and very infrequently does the Gospel get proclaimed in any kind of fullness. He hoped more conversations would happen around this issue.
A report from the Sunday School Study Group was published in the May newsletter. Basically, there was a growing discontent amongst the children, teachers and parents that prompted the C.E. Committee to set up a committee to look into the whole question of Sunday School. The study focused on children from nursery to Grade 6. The Committee shared two points of concern. The first was that the Church does have some responsibility for the Christian education of children. The committee added that Christian education is an ongoing process of education for both children and adults. The second point was that parents somehow must be aware of and involved in what their children are being taught. Since children spend only one hour in Sunday School, it is important that the lessons be carried through the days that follow. They felt parents needed to be aware and involved in what was happening in Sunday School. To this end they placed this responsibility on the Church School to arrange for meaningful opportunities for parent involvement throughout the school year. The Committee had 9 recommendations for the C.E. Committee, hoping that these would be passed on to the appropriate groups or committees, discussed and then built into existing structures that they might become a part of and a support to what presently is in place.
On June 24th an outdoor service was held at Crescent Drive Park at 11:00 a.m., followed by a congregational picnic.
July church services were held at St. Paul’s Anglican Church and during August, services were held at FGUC.
During the year a committee composed of Graeme Bowswell, Ron Good, Bev Jacobs, Marg Buhr, Cliff Worth and Art Powell met with architects to draw up plans for renovations to the church. The plan was to have a presentation ready for the early fall. At that time the Committee would report to the Official Board and to the Congregation. The report offered suggestions about some renovations of to the Sanctuary, some alternatives, and a full description of the cost and options available for the Church.
Rev. Frame Message
In the annual report Rev. Frame spoke of the multitude of emotions from joy and excitement to sadness and sorrow and everything in between all at the same time. Yet, he praised the diversity within Fort Garry United Church (FGUC) that made it an “exciting place to be”. He expressed his happiness at being a part of our Church and the ongoing hard work, planning, thinking, fund raising, and conscious awakening, all made possible because there are so many willing to give of themselves in a generous and gracious way.
The emphasis under the current structure was on strong standing committees, with participation by all Elders on a committee of their choice, supplemented by as many members at large from the congregation as possible. Guests in the pulpit during the year included Dr. H. Frame, Father Ray Currie, Rev. Tom James, Dr. J. Nesbitt, Mr. K. Cooper, Dr. B. Stearns, and Miss Ruth Matheson.
Fort Garry United Church hosted the September meeting of Winnipeg Presbytery with our representatives being Mr. Norman Brand, Mrs. Mona McCawley and Mrs. B. McConnell.
During July, joint services were held by Rev. Duff at St. Paul’s Anglican Church and during August, at Fort Garry with Rev. D. Frame and Rev. H. Ritchie.
Rev. Harold Ritchie began working at the beginning of July as a Pastoral Worker on a part time basis. Joan Blight and Janet Roonspies were hired as Youth Workers from October 1973 to approximately April 1974 and worked with the Junior and Senior High students.
Session Committees planned special events such as “Town Hall”, “Folk Mass”, etc. In addition,
Audrey McLennan, directing the Christian Education (C.E.) Committee, assisted by Sally Shwetz, provided a variety of events focussed on the varied interests and age groups of our congregation.
The Worship Committee, assisted by Rev. Harold Ritchie, Rev. Frame and participation by the Church School students and choirs provided an additional dimension to our C.E. programs with varied forms of worship services.
The heating problems which occurred in late 1972 were rectified by the custodian and the property committee. The sound system had created issues but were fixed and performed reasonably well. A number of priorities were identified during the Every Person Canvass campaign and the property committee would tackle them in 1974.
The 1973 commitment to the Mission and Service Fund was met in full with payments made in excess of $20,000.
During the annual visitation to members and adherents of the congregation, the committee’s objectives were made with pledges reaching $72,000. This was an approximate increase of 13% over the previous year and would enable the Church to carry out the work and other priorities outlined during the steward’s visitations.
The Committee met informally during the year to consider projects that may require use of funds. The Committee was awaiting a Property Committee report which would outline proposed changes in the Sanctuary and Narthex. The Memorial Committee would advise the Property Committee of the availability of funds if a suitable undertaking was contemplated.
Christian Education Committee Report
This year was described as being active but challenging for the Committee. New programs included a four evening series on Aging and Death, a Bible Study course under Dr. Wm. Klassen, and congregational discussion on two Sundays about the purpose and direction of Sunday School. Once a special committee on Sunday School completed its study and recommendations, work began on designing the Primary, Junior and Junior High program for the Fall.
By March it was obvious that the task of planning a dynamic Christian Education program was daunting. The Committee determined they needed help and recruited about 35 volunteers for five sub-committees. Each committee was asked to reflect on its purpose, set goals and objectives, and begin to implement them.
The Committees and their work was as follows:
Children’s Ministry was responsible for the age group of birth to grade six including Sunday School and mid-week groups. The Committee coordinated special events such as the registration and picnic at La Barriere Park in September and the Christmas party.
Youth Committee was responsible for Junior and Senior High age groups. The committee sponsored two weekend camps supporting 12 Junior Highs to attend Luther Village in May and 25 Junior Highs and Senior Highs to attend Pioneer Camp in September. The committee members also provided support and resources for the two part-time youth workers, and guidance in the direction of our programs for this age group.
Adult Education Committee provided a variety of opportunities for adults to grow in their capacity to live creatively, effectively and with fulfillment. A Bible Series was offered under the leadership of Prof. Carl Ridd with over 50 people enrolled. Other programs were initiated as a result of expressed interest from the congregation and they included: a series of talk-backs after the Sunday Service, a movie and theatre discussion group, and an adult discussion group.
Family Program Committee’s purpose was to provide informal opportunities for small groups to share in significant experiences together. Committee members provided opportunities for families to eat and play together and to share in growing together as part of a loving, caring Christian Community with such activities as a Bar-BBQ at La Barriere Park in September, a parent-teen communication group, and a pot luck supper in November at the Church.
Library Committee responded to the increasing interest in books at the Church and as such placed books in the Lounge and on the Library Cart in the Narthex. Sixty-six books were purchased in 1973 with six books being donated. The total expenditure was $109.00
Special mention was given to Leslie Godfrey who designed beautiful banners for the Church.
A highlight of the fall was a dinner meeting of the total C.E. Committee, which combined an opportunity to meet one another with some light-hearted entertainment followed by a stimulating evening led by Prof. Elly Bradley, who helped us reflect upon our task of Christian Education.
The Sunday School program for children to Grade VII had a total enrollment of 293 and a staff of 47 teachers and superintendents.
The babyfold, Nursery I (18 months – 3 years) and Nursery II (3 years) had been coordinated by one person who had been responsible for purchasing equipment and maintaining staff. Since we had many teenage volunteers in the babyfold, it was decided that we didn’t need the assistance from the U.C.W. volunteers as of January 1974. A special thanks was extended to the U.C.W. for providing help in the babyfold over the past many years.
Kindergarten Department (4 and 5 year olds) had an enrollment of 36 children with an average attendance of 24. This department, with a staff of 7, followed the curriculum with songs, stories, games and hand work related to the weekly lesson. The teachers had 2 or 3 planning sessions throughout the year and assigned jobs on a rotating basis. Many of the teachers in this department had devoted their time and talents for several years and wanted a chance to return to the regular morning services. Members of the congregation were encouraged to visit the department and consider teaching the children in the fall.
The Primary Department (Grades 1, 2, 3) had an enrollment of 85 children with an average attendance of 65, a staff of 6 mothers and 8 teenagers. The teenage staff was very effective in augmenting the teachers’ program by providing activities for the children when they first arrived at church as well as taking part in the regular curriculum program.
The Junior Department (Grades 4, 5, 6) had an enrollment of 72 children with an average attendance of 60 weekly. The Sunday School year was divided into 4 semesters with each being 8 weeks in duration with the exception of the Christmas semester which was only 6 weeks. This enabled a change in staff with each semester. The teams of teachers were asked to make a 12 week commitment – 4 weeks in training and 8 weeks of actual teaching. Sally Shwetz developed the programs in cooperation with the department superintendent.
Special activities of the Church School in 1973 included a kick-off, picnic at La Barriere Park, a U.N.I.C.E.F. drive ($111.09 was collected by the Church School), a Saturday afternoon Christmas party and White Gift Sunday. The food and gifts were made into hampers and were delivered to needy families in Vogar, Manitoba by Dr. Jack Nesbitt and the Youth Group who were known as “The Sunday Connection”.
The Sunday Connection Group was a new group which was formed as a continuation of Sunday School for 12 and 13 year old girls and boys. They met on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. with their team teachers, Millie Russell, Doris Latter and Paul Thain. There was lots of enthusiasm from the 20 to 30 who attended each Sunday. Due to the large attendance Donna Thain joined the group as a leader.
As well as singing at Church Services, the choir rehearsed and performed a Children’s Cantata, “100% Chance of Rain” in January. It was performed in April 1974 with Rosedale United Church Junior Choir and at four other churches in the city.
In May, the choir had a very successful windup party. Rehearsals started again in September and after Thanksgiving for the Christmas music, singing at 3 different services in December. They also went carolling to homes of senior congregation members and to the Kiwanis Plaza.
Bev Jacobs was the Choir Leader with Betty-Lou McCord, Coralie Standing and Etta Fram helping throughout the year serving cookies and Kool-Aid before rehearsals. Ina Backman was the accompanist for the past 4 years.
High School Youth Group
In October, a group of 5 boys met to form the beginnings of a high school youth group. Membership soon increased to 10 (7 boys and 3 girls). The group met every Tuesday evening at a member’s home.
The format for each meeting was a discussion and/or planning session. Special activities and projects included a session on “careers” at Vincent Massey Collegiate under the guidance of 2 counsellors in the Fort Garry School Division, a visit to a Hutterite Colony, coordination of the White Gifts in the Church, and a Christmas party. Three members travelled to Vogar where the White Gifts were distributed.
Junior High Group
This group had 8 boys and 8 girls as members and met at the Church Wednesday evenings. The group activities centered on discussions of a variety of topics from “the meaning of Christmas” to “boy girl relationships”. As social activities were another important aspect of the group, they held an “overnight” at the Church. The discussions, planning, social and educational activities were focused on “Indian Development” as the theme.
Members strived for personal growth, learning to work together and cooperate as a group, learning to be aware of people, things and situations and learning to share meaningful experiences in work and play.
The enrollment was 21 and they met on Mondays after school. Their motto was to see the relationship with God, Nature and the Family. The group learned about the Manitoba Indian. They, along with the Explorer Group, studied India and the work of our church in this country. The hope was the group would learn about Manitoba Indian children and share the information, the study and the projects with the congregation at the Mission Dedication Service on March 18th.
The Explorer Group
This was a program for girls in grades 4-6 and they met on Wednesday evenings with 21 enrolled. The year was divided into four explorations. They participated in “Getting to Know You” which allowed 7 new initiates to become familiar with the purpose, motto hymn and prayer of Explorers. The remaining members planned and ran a Halloween Party and invited the girls from Genent ??? Park Explorers.
The Initiation Service on November 7th was a memorable event with all Explorers participating in the experience. The 2nd Exploration centered on “Hanukkah – the Jewish Festival of Lights”. Resource people taught the Explorers how to prepare the traditional dish, “Latkes” (potato cakes) and to sing and dance. They visited the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue.
The group studied the history of Christmas time celebration and reasons for the celebration. This was done so the group could have their own Hanukkah Service as their closing meeting before Christmas. They made use of the traditional scripture readings, legends, games including the dreidel, dancing a “Hora”, table games and the customary service for the lighting of the Hanukkah candles.
During the Mission section of their program, the theme was “the Indian in the Urban Community”. They looked at the services provided for Indians, the contributions made to our city by the Indian, and to become involved personally in a project related to Indians in city hospitals.
99th Pembina District Cubs and Scouts
This year the 99th operated 4 Cub Packs (95 boys), 1 Scout Troop (21 boys), 1 Beaver Colony with 17 registered. The group ran well with leadership and assistants in place.
A Father and Son Banquet was held at the church.
In November a candy drive was conducted and netted approximately $350.
99th TrailBlazer Scout Troop
Highlights included several hikes and a camping trip to a deserted lake near Rushing River Provincial Park, east of Kenora. The annual Tally-Ho at Christmas was successful, with no one breaking anything after the many “falls” from the sleigh.
Fort Garry Friendship Club
After meeting at St. Paul’s Anglican Church for many years, the Club decided to return to FGUC as the Christian Education Committee provided a support group for the Club. The Friendship Club met every Friday afternoon with 25 members enjoying a program of carpet bowling, cards and music. Special programs included a carpet bowling demonstration, crafts, slide presentations, musical programs and a tour of the Manitoba Sugar Beet Factory.
U.C.W. ladies provided refreshments each week and several volunteers provided transportation. Etta Frame and Elsie Skelton were on hand every week to greet members and help create a climate of friendship and warmth through sharing in the afternoon activities. The ready willingness of so many people of our congregation and community to respond with interest and help was a source of strength.
Under the guidance of Cliff Worth the Choir presented some new music and assisted the congregation in learning new hymns.
Special music was prepared and sung for the special services of the Church year, such as Good Friday, Easter, the Annual Christmas Carol Service on December 16th, and for the special morning service on December 23rd. Extra Sunday evening rehearsals were required for most of the services.
Several social events took place during the year including the annual progressive dinner for members and spouses as well as an after Christmas music rehearsal gathering.
The Choir assembled and delivered a Christmas hamper of food, small gifts and toys to aid a Fort Garry family.
The Choir was very dedicated with a pleasant group spirit among the 25 members. A warm welcome was extended to anyone who wanted to join any section of the Choir. Rehearsals were on Thursday evenings at 8:00 p.m.
This was a very busy but successful year with 10 units comprised of 115 members. Tributes were paid to Mrs. Nellie Kinsman and Mrs. Helen Harvey. Life Memberships were presented to Mrs. Gaynelle Ralston, Mrs. Irene Hedley and Mrs. Ina Brown.
Due to declining numbers, the President, Bev Jacobs, expressed her concern about the sustainability of the organization under its current system. She felt the needs would always be there for the community and the women themselves. Bev was optimistic that the needs would be filled as long as the women could have the happy rewarding experience of working together.
There were 9 general meetings held with installation of Officers in January. In February, Dr. R. McGinnis showed slides of his trip to China. In March, Sally Shwetz spoke about Church part-time staff. In April, Mrs. Marion Vaisey spoke on Funeral Planning. In May, a dessert party was held at the Eastern Star Lodge Senior Citizens Residence. A business meeting was held in September. In October, Mr. Desrochers from Hugh John MacDonald Hostel spoke on the programs carried on there. Mrs. Cecile Johnston spoke in November about her year in France. A Christmas Dessert Party was held in December with entertainment by the “Good News” group.
Supply and Welfare
All articles from the clothing drives went to St. Andrew’s Church on Elgin Avenue. A sufficient supply of bandages were sent to Angola in the spring. No requests were made for layettes but the UCW was advised to purchase sale items and be ready for future requests.
Flower Convenor’s Report
During the year Fairhaven Florist supplied U.C.W. with 25 floral arrangements. There were donations of wedding flowers, memorial flowers and funeral flowers. Most arrangements were delivered to the sick and shut-ins of the congregation as well as to the Golden Door and Conquist Nursing Homes and to the Kiwanis Plaza. Ladies from the various units delivered the flowers each week.
Friendship Chairman’s Report
During the year about 30 get well and sympathy cards were sent to members of the U.C.W. and their families. No doubt many were missed as it was almost impossible to hear about everyone who was ill. Mrs. Sloane and Mrs. Jacobs phoned Norma Rock, Friendship Chair, when they knew of anyone. Norma asked unit leaders to report illnesses they knew about to the Friendship Chairman.
In March, the group visited the Golden Door and presented the World Day of Prayer Service to quite a large group of residents.
Social Convener’s Report
The year started with a balance of $17.55 left over from 1972. The group received $150 from the U.C.W., for a total of $167.55. Supplies for the kitchen, the spring “Soups On” luncheon and the Poinsettia Tea were purchased for a total of $131.42. After the purchase of 20 glass ash trays there was a balance of $36.13. In June, the kitchen was cleaned and a count taken of the contents by Unit 1. Also in June, Marjory McLeans, Irene Hedley and Gertie Truscott compiled an inventory and appraised the contents of the kitchen for fire insurance purposes. The contents were valued at $4,521.
Members were requested to continue saving Canada Packers labels so some needed utensils could be acquired in the future.
Total Membership – 857
Baptisms – 12
Marriages – 33
Funerals – 19
Memorial Services – 2
In 1974, FGUC was involved in a flurry of activity around First Nations communities. The history, as written below, was taken directly from the 1974 annual report and Committee meeting minutes. The words “Indian” and “problems” conveyed the language of the day. It is by no means a reflection of FGUC’s or this author’s views or values; simply a retelling of history as it was written in 1974.
Happenings Through The Year
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) took the same format as the previous year; starting with a potluck dinner, activities for the children, and a time for fun together. Then, they got down to business.
Since the United Church would celebrate its 50th anniversary in 1975, the emphasis of mission study for the year was to look at the life we live together “in mission”. Mission projects became the focus for Sunday School and adults. Areas such as the Indian Communities in Manitoba (on reservations and in Winnipeg) were studied and experienced; particularly by the Sunday School, Explorers and Messenger groups.
In the early ‘70s FGUC changed over from “The Hymnary” to “The Hymn Book” ; storing the 300-400 copies of the old Hymn Books in a cupboard. The church did contribute two boxes of the old Hymnaries to the church at Nestor Falls and one box to the church at Steep Rock. Both churches were in desperate need.
The FGUC Library continued to grow with new books being added all the time – 44 in total were purchased and 5 were donated. It was hoped that educational and inspirational material would be provided to support the life of the congregation. It was anticipated that the existing children’s library would be enlarged and that a resource centre of records, film strips and tapes would be developed.
Early in the year, a motion was passed that Session Council set up a Structure Committee to study Session Structure. Art McLean, in his role as liaison, along with appropriate members of the Committee of Stewards were requested to explore and study the scope and implications of developing the budget and its relationship to the Session, the Committee of Stewards and the Official Board.
In March, a letter was received from Winnipeg Presbytery asking if FGUC would be willing to work with the Christian Development Council of Winnipeg Presbytery and Stan McKay, the United Church Worker with native people, in developing a self-education program on the understanding of the Native Canadian. The program was to be tested in FGUC and then made available to other churches. Session agreed in principle with a suggestion of a meeting with Presbytery representatives and two people from our congregation. Mona McCawley and Audrey McLennan met with representatives of the Christian Development Council of Presbytery to consider how FGUC could support the Presbytery project of having Stan McKay develop materials to educate white people about Indian culture and Indian problems.
Dorothy Lord and Sally Shwetz presented information regarding changes to the basement area of the church. The changes would provide better, small space areas for small group work. The plan was referred to the Property Committee of the Committee of Stewards for further investigation and cost estimates. The official board approved the proposed renovations to the Lower Auditorium in the C.E. Building and arrangements were to be made to borrow $6,000 to cover the cost. On June 2nd the proposed remodelling and potential uses were presented to the congregation. After considerable discussion on ventilation issues and borrowing money, a motion was presented to refer the proposal back to the Special Committee for further study and possible inclusion in the 1975 budget. This motion was defeated. Further discussion ensued on possible staging of the construction to allow for future installation of ventilation equipment. An amended motion was then presented that the design be approved with provision for later addition of any needed ventilation. This motion was carried. An additional motion was carried that the Special Committee return to another special congregation meeting as soon as possible with complete cost figures, including ventilation. Unfortunately, this renovation did not happen for another 20+ years.
Mona McCawley reported to session on a meeting she attended, as the Church’s representative, with the representatives from the Christian Development Council of Winnipeg Presbytery to consider how FGUC might support the Presbytery plan to develop materials which would help white people to understand Indian culture and problems. Session agreed that the Social Action Committee would act as liaison with the Christian Development Council of Presbytery and would keep the Council informed of their negotiations. The “Indian Project” was ongoing throughout the year.
A part time staff person was hired to develop programming and leadership training for junior high and senior high school aged young people.
The main accomplishments during the year included improvements to the church property. The carpeting in the sanctuary was installed. A major renovation to the lower auditorium involved adding room for nurseries. The construction of a kitchenette in the upper auditorium was undertaken. When a special appeal for funds for the lower auditorium renovations was made to the congregation, approximately half of the cost was covered. The U.C.W. paid for the installation of the kitchenette facilities and they made a generous contribution toward the renovation costs, including new stage curtains.
During the annual visitation to members in November, pledges totaled approximately $73,000, reflecting an increase of 10% in giving.
Our 1974 commitment to Mission and Service Fund was met in full and a payment in excess of $20,000 was made.
The Christian Education Committee continued to provide opportunities for small groups to share in significant experiences together as part of a caring Christian community.
As a result of an extensive evaluation and interview process with parents and teachers in Sunday School, a two semester system was introduced instead of four with the occasional 9:30 a.m. family worship services. One of the reasons for selecting the two semester system was to facilitate recruitment of teachers. Having Sunday School three Sundays followed by one Sunday off for family worship was fairly well received. Teachers were able to enjoy a Sunday free from teaching; and, families expressed an interest in family style worship.
Betty Cairn and Linda Green were interviewed and recommended to Winnipeg Presbytery for consideration as representatives on the International Youth Exchange, a 50th Anniversary Project of the United Church of Canada.
The Adult Sub-Committee worked with the Social Action Committee on planning events to increase our awareness and understanding of the culture and problems experienced by Native people.
The Family Program Sub-Committee provided several opportunities for families to get to know each other through pot luck suppers and outings.
Lesley Godfrey (Librarian) designed several beautiful new banners which hung in the Sanctuary.
The Sunday school had an enrollment of 240 children. Of the 57 Sunday school teachers, most were women. The response of the male sector to Sunday School commitment remained poor but it was hoped to recruit fathers and grandfathers in the future. However, there were many energetic, enthusiastic young people who assisted with the activities each Sunday.
The newly implemented two semester system along with three Sundays of Sunday School followed by one Sunday off for family worship was fairly well received. Teachers enjoyed a Sunday from teaching and families expressed an interest in family style worship.
The picnic at La Barriere Park and the annual Christmas party were big events planned for the Sunday School by the Children’s Ministry Committee. We had two outdoor services, collected money for UNICEF, and donated White Gifts to the Voger community of Manitoba.
The highlight of the Sunday school year was the Festival of Canadian Indian Arts held on March 3rd. This was organized by Verna McKay and the Semester 111 Team of the Junior Department as part of their Mission Project. The congregation was invited to participate and with the help of several people, over 500 people stayed after church to visit the displays, have a soup and bannock lunch, and join in the Pow Wow with Rev. Cuthand.
This was an after school program for children in Grades 1 – 3, meeting on Monday from 4:15 – 5:15 p.m. In the spring, the children took part in the Mission study to learn more about Manitoba Indians. They made beautiful drums as a project, read legends, and were given authentic Indian names. The children collected money for the Indian Interpreter and Visitors Program under the direction of Mrs. D. Settee.
In the fall, 23 children enjoyed a combination of games and projects; exploring the mystery and beauty of fall through crafts and out-trips.
This group was comprised of 12 girls in grades 4, 5 and 6 who met on Wednesday evening from 6:45 to 8:00 p.m.
In the spring, the Explorers spent three months involved in increasing their awareness of Indian culture through speakers and learning the skill of beading. They made gifts for the Indian patients in the General Hospital and delivered them personally. Through the sale of calendars, they raised $42.00 toward the Mission project. They provided support for the Indian Interpreters and Visitation Program and heard Mrs. Settee describe her work. They visited three organizations which assisted Indians in the city and shared this information with the congregation during the Indian Festival in March. Another highlight was a year-end sleep-over at the Church at which time twelve Grade 6 members were graduated at a mid-night service.
All the girls were involved in making decorations for the October 30th Halloween party. Sally Shwetz (Resource Staff) judged the costumes.
In November, the girls sold the 1975 United Church calendars and invited Sally Shwetz to conduct their Initiation Service and Star Ceremony. The girls enjoyed a tour of McDonalds.
Lovely Christmas centerpieces were made at the December meetings and on December 18th the Explorer Group had a Christmas party. Some of the girls took part in lighting the advent candles at the December 22nd family service.
Junior High Youth Group
Approximately 17 young people (12 girls and 5 boys) were enrolled in this group. They were involved in a variety of activities such as volley ball, games, watching films, listening to music, talking and enjoying each other’s friendship. Emphasis was on learning to live and understand themselves and others that they encountered in the group.
High School Youth Group
In January and February, the main activities centered on the theme of “World Development” to coincide with FGUC’s on Ten Days for World Development. The High School Youth group prepared the fact sheets for it while some members helped plan and participate in it.
99th Pembina District Cubs and Scouts
This group operated 3 cub packs and 1 beaver colony. There were 73 cubs and 18 beavers registered. The group functioned well with excellent leaders.
Several changes were made in the format of the group. There were now four general meetings planned a year, of which two were held in the evening. Also, a newsletter covering any items of business was circulated in the interim months. Six meetings were held during the year, on the second Monday of the month, with an average of 33 people present.
In the spring, the members sponsored a Centennial Dance for an evening of fun and fellowship.
The first general evening meeting was held in October and a panel from Al-Anon provided an interesting program. In December, they held their dessert luncheon with approximately 60 members in attendance. The “Good News” group entertained them.
Six members of the U.C.W. attended the Women’s Conference at Banff in October and found it to be a very rewarding experience.
As a result of making many phone calls, a new unit was opened and several auxiliary members joined, making the total 126 plus 39 auxiliary members.
Fairhaven Florists supplied the Church with 15 floral arrangements. There were 16 wedding flower donations, 6 memory bouquets, and flowers from 5 funerals. During the summer months garden flowers were used at 9 services. A total of 109 arrangements were delivered to our sick and shut in members of the congregation as well as to the Golden Door, Conquest Nursing homes and Kiwanis Plaza.
All articles from the clothing drive in October went to Stella Mission. During the year several other trips were made to the Mission delivering boxes of clothing.
As part of the Supply and Welfare component of the U.C.W. , they shipped 2 parcels to Fisher River United Church, Koostatak, Manitoba. The parcels consisted of 1 blanket, 1 quilt kit and two layettes.
Small plastic pill containers were collected for Overseas.
There were 4 events that highlighted the year for this committee. The first was the Maundy Thursday communion service which was a moving experience for those who took part in it. The second was the participation of Harry Douglas, last of the Deep River Boys, who had a moving and relevant story to tell. With Rev. Don Frame’s support, they put together a very special worship experience. The third was a Centennial Service to commemorate centennial year. A Sunday was taken to explore the Church and its role in the community – past, present and future. The theme was set in the Sunday morning service and followed in the evening with a lively panel discussion by three very informed people including Dick Wankling from our congregation. From this discussion a point arose regarding identification of local urban problems that a congregation such as ours could influence if studied as a project. The fourth highlight was the involvement of families in lighting the Advent candles.
Social Action Committee
This Committee chose the “Indian Project” as its main area of concern regarding the reestablishment of Indian cultural pride. Three areas became the focus of attention – urban housing for Indian people; the educational system and the Indian; and Indian culture and Aboriginal rights within the context of International law. The Committee developed proposals for congregational involvement including church committees. March 10th (Mission Sunday) was themed as “Festival of Canadian Arts”. The Children’s Committee was responsible for everything done around the service including designating placement of booths set up by other committees showcasing soapstone carving, Indian Art, beadwork, bannock making, Indian education, pow-wow and Indian Book Display.
The Committee, along with several congregational members compiled the “Indian Organization List of Manitoba”. The Committee was in contact with more than 30 organizations, gathering information about their purpose and area of responsibility through questions such as: Do you supply speakers to community groups? And, would you like to have volunteer help of any sort? An example of the information gathered was that the Indian Metis Eskimo Student Association at the University of Manitoba was willing to supply speakers to people in the community who are interested in hearing about the Native people’s experiences and point of view. No such list has ever been published in Manitoba, except partially, by the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.
Pastoral Care Committee
This Committee and the Adult Education Committee co-sponsored two evenings of study for the elders to discuss their faith. A survey was conducted amongst elders and a sampling of the congregation. The findings showed a need to continue with elder visitations, with a new card information system.
Thanks to contributions made during the year the fund had a balance of $2,513.49. The Committee was meeting to give serious consideration to two projects which were expected to be presented to the congregation in early 1975.
The Senior Choir participated in the annual Choir Festival at Westminster Church sponsored by the Royal Canadian College of Organists. Other activities included preparing for, and leading the “Old Time Hymn Festival for our congregation; participating in the pre-service hymn learning sessions led by Norm McLennen; assisting our minister with services held at Princess Elizabeth Hospital; and, assisting at the U.C.W. “Music Box” tea which was to raise money for new choir gowns.
The main event for the Senior Choir was the Christmas Cantata, “Bethlehem”, presented Sunday evening, December 22nd.
The Junior Choir was comprised of children in grade 4 and up. Rehearsals took place at 4:15 – 5:30 on Tuesdays. The Junior Choir took part in the church services on a monthly basis, as well as participating in various centennial events in the city. These events included a Junior Choir Festival at Westminster United Church; a United Church Rally at the Centennial Concert Hall; a concert of Canadian Composers at St. Alban’s Anglican Church sponsored by the Canadian College of Organists (Winnipeg Branch); and, a banquet at the Wildewood Curling Club.
When rehearsals resumed after summer break, the Junior Choir began with Christmas music, singing at 4 different services in December. On December 23rd, the Choir went carolling with the Sunday School children to homes in the vicinity.
Baptisms – 16
Marriages – 49
Funerals – 17
In 1975, FGUC continued its involvement in activities around First Nations communities. The happenings, as written below, were taken directly from the 1975 annual report and Committee meeting minutes. The words “Indian” and “problems” conveyed the language of the day. It is by no means a reflection of FGUC’s or this author’s views or values; simply a retelling of history as it was written in 1975.
This year marked the 50th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada.
Senior Choir (Mary McCaughey, President)
The membership grew smaller due to several uncontrollable circumstances but enthusiasm and participation remained keen. Two new members were welcomed, Helen Peters and Jerry Wishart. Decisions were made on style, colour and material for new gowns. The Choir wore their new gowns on Easter Sunday. The U.C.W. was thanked for making it possible to purchase new gowns.
The spring progressive dinner was held as usual and was most successful with appreciation going to Bert Caine, Coralie Standing and Cliff Worth (choir leader) for opening their homes.
At the Choir’s annual meeting in September the executive was unanimously reinstated for a second term.
Regents Park Choir joined our choir in the Christmas Carol Services.
Junior Choir (Beverley Jacobs, Director)
The Choir sang each month at church services until the middle of May. At that time, rehearsals continued with the Sunday School children in preparation for the musical “Sam” which was performed in early June.
The end of the season was celebrated with a bowling party and a supper at “MacDonalds” when awards were presented for attendance. Beth Powell received a hymnary in recognition of seven years faithful service in the Junior Choir.
Another performance of “Sam” was given for our anniversary celebration concert. The Choir was busy with preparations and rehearsals with the Sunday School for the Christmas musical of “Sunshine and Snowflakes” which was performed on Christmas Eve. Members of the Junior Choir also took part in the family carolling on December 22nd.
Betty-Lou McCord was accompanist at rehearsals and church services. Carolyn Gould was “choir mother” and assisted at weekly rehearsals.
Session (Bill Lough, Chairman)
Blair Fenton, Comrie McCawley, Ted Van Berkel and Norm Osland organized a very successful Fowl Supper with 665 people sitting down to dinner at various times. Food was donated by members of the congregation with proceeds of approximately $920 being donated to the National Anniversary Fund. Members of the congregation provided the evening entertainment.
Pastoral Care (Audrey McLennan, Leadership)
The record card information system was completed. The system was designed to provide a permanent and up-to-date record on congregational members. The accuracy and completeness depended largely on information flowing from visitations.
The committee endeavoured to launch a program of visiting to the handicapped, shut-ins and church members in nursing homes.
Worship Committee (Ken Warmbrod, Chairman)
A number of special events and services were organized during the year. For example, in February, the Klusmiers participated in a special service centering on music. Members of the committee organized and conducted a communion service on Maundy Thursday. In April a special musical service involved the junior and senior choirs as well as the Fort Garry Bell Ringers. A worship service was held in November to recognize the 50th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada. The central theme was our heritage and future. During Advent season, families participated in the ceremonial lighting of the Advent Candles. The senior choir and the Regents Park United Church choir presented a program of Christmas music on television on December 25th.
Late in the year some members of the Worship Committee helped organize an instrumental group for young people.
Social Action-Outreach Committee (Louise Stearns, Chairman)
The committee held four open forums on Indians and Metis with the objective being exploration of attitudes toward Canada’s native people. Stan McKay led the first meeting on Indian people. The second meeting was led by Bruce Sealey and focused on Metis people. Economic issues was the theme of the third meeting with panelists including Mary Richard, head of the Indian Metis Friendship Centre, and others. Earl Duncan, head of the Native Alcoholism Council, led the fourth meeting which discussed alcoholism. The meetings were well attended and very educational.
Inga Carr produced a half-hour television show about understanding between natives and other Canadians which was broadcasted twice. Bente Cunnings, Norm Coghlan, Linda Green and Stan McKay participated in the production. As a result of this project Inga, Verna McKay and Louise Stearns received a federal grant to produce three more TV shows. The Indian sub-committee of Social Action, led by Jo Glendinning, cooperated with the effort by viewing the three shows, evaluating them and discussing the issues raised, which concerned native values and cultural clash.
Another sub-committee was formed to work on problems of the recent refugees from Chile.
Stewards (Art Sparling and Bob Gottfred, co-Chairs)
As a result of the Every Person Visitation on November 9th, pledges received were approximately $78,000. The 1975 financial commitment to the Mission and Service (M&S) fund was $22,000. However, even with a request for a special offering, the M&S commitment fell short of its goal.
Property Committee (Dave McKibbin, Chairman)
Improvements to the church property included carpeting the stairs to the lounge and renewing the roof over the sanctuary. The insurance company paid 50% of the cost due to hail damage being the reason for the shingle replacement. A new lawn mower was purchased and a snow blower was acquired. An electric base heater was installed in the choir room and a fan installed in the crawl space in the basement.
Custodian, Les Churchill, gave the Choir room a fresh coat of paint and hung wallpaper. The committee paid homage to Les Churchill, who painted and maintained the Church along with his regular duties in an excellent manner.
Memorial Fund (Earl Pollard, Chairman)
The first obligation of the year was to renovate the chimes which was a gift from Prof. A.V. Mitchener in memory of Mrs. Mitchener. A new electronic system using high fidelity tapes was completed which added a new dimension to the Christmas Eve Service. Music for weddings, funerals, Easter service, etc. further utilized the system.
New linen for the communion table was ordered and expected to arrive early in 1976.
The memorial book was kept up to date and all contributions acknowledged.
United Church Women (Lee Powell, President)
Lee reported that 1975 was a good year for the United Church Women (U.C.W.) with four general meetings with an average of sixty women attending. There were ten units with a membership of approximately 130 with 39 auxiliary members. The auxiliary members are ladies who, for various reasons, are unable to be active members but are willing to help out at our major events.
In February, Marnie Cook from the Church Home for Girls spoke to them on the plight of McMillan House, a home for unwed mothers. The U.C.W. members lent their support to the cause by instigating a petition to the government and they supported McMillan House financially.
Etta Frame was hostess to each unit on a rotating basis which gave Etta an opportunity to meet more of the ladies. This also gave the ladies a chance to visit the manse.
Five members of the U.C.W. attended the Manitoba Conference in Kenora in October and found it to be a very worthwhile experience. They became more aware of the situation of women in other parts of the world as well as in Canada.
In the spring, the U.C.W. held a Flea Market which was a great success as a first venture.
At the October general meeting, Don Frame spoke to the group and showed slides of his trip to the Far East.
Their major event was “Holly Tea” in November which was deemed successful and pleasurable for all concerned. The events enable everyone to work together for a common goal and offer a time of good fellowship to all in the congregation.
The ladies also supported the Anniversary Dinner on November 1st by way of supplying the dessert and helping in many other areas.
The U.C.W. contributed $1,000 to the Board of Stewards to help with repair costs around the church – notably the carpeting on the stairs and the new ventilating fan in the minister’s study.
Flower Convenor (Ina Brown)
Fairhaven Florist supplied thirteen arrangements of altar flowers, as well as a beautiful table centre for the U.C.W. “Holly Tea” in November.
There were donations from fifteen weddings, nine memory bouquets and flowers from six funerals. During the summer, garden flowers were used at nine services. Eighty-four arrangements were delivered to our sick, shut-in and bereaved members of our congregation, as well as to Kiwanis and Richmond Plazas.
The U.C.W. supplied seventeen dozen daffodils for the Easter service. These were later delivered to residents of Kiwanis Plaza by Clare and Geoffrey Powell.
Christian Education (Bente Cummings, Coordinating Chairman)
Bente noted in her report there was never a shortage of helping hands and heads when work needed to be done. Highlights of the year included the ecumenical gathering for the Gordon Harland evenings, the two performances of “Sam”, successful camps for grades seven to nine and for Young Adults, pot-luck suppers, annual “C.E. Dinner” and the increasing number of books available for loan.
Statistics gathered by the Committee:
- E. Committee had five sub-committees with a membership of 40
- Sunday School had thirty-seven teachers
- Sunday School enrollment is approximately 215 children
- Messengers had twenty-two children
- Fifteen Grade 9 students participated in “Sunday Connection”
- Young Adults group consisted of twenty to thirty young people
- Thirty-six books were bought at the Book Sale
- Ninety books were donated to the library
Sunday School (Ken Adam and Sally Shwetz)
The enrollment increased from 241 to 275 children of ages three years to Grade Nine students. Many new families joined our congregation.
For children in Grades 1 – 6, studies related the themes of God Creator, Old Testament, Advent and Christmas, Jesus life and teachings, Mission, Lent and Easter, and the Church, to the child’s experience. Suggestions were given to their parents in letters and the newsletters for follow up participation at home to stimulate the child to ask questions and enrich the teachings to give meaning in the child’s life. Sunday School was forty minutes which was just enough time to initiate an idea, give some background information for discussion through Bible readings, stories, film strips or records and to allow some opportunity for the child to use the idea presented in some concrete projects. It was felt this time was not long enough to build community, a sense of wonder, a belief in the loving presence of God in the immediate present.
A family style service continued with families remaining together for the first part of the service for several reasons; such as, the chance for families to worship regularly together, the opportunity for children to be with the congregation and the Minister; and, to allow the children to experience being called to worship, to hear the order of service and to feel the meaning of the Word. The reaction was most favorable as it also allowed leaders time to attend church or prepare for their session at 11:20.
Highlights of 1975 were:
- Koostatak Visit – Fisher River School Grade four class visited from March 5 – 7
- Sunday School outdoor Services at Crescent Park in the Spring and Fall
- Kick-off supper at LaBarriere Park in September
- November 2nd Department Anniversary parties in Kindergarten and Grades 1 – 8
- Kindergarten singing on December 14th and the Grade 5 Pagaent for White Gift Sunday. The presentation of white gifts to the Voger community.
- Christmas Party on December 20th with the Grade 6 presentation of the Twelve Days of Christmas
- The presentation of “Sunshine and Snowflakes” at the Christmas Eve Service.
The leaders met regularly in grade groups to prepare each theme. These intimate gatherings developed a sense of fellowship and common purpose. The leaders hosted breakfasts at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday in the fall which provided an opportunity to meet other leaders and show common concerns and ideas.
Messengers (Sally Shwetz, Leader)
Twenty girls from Grades one to three attended the after-school program on Mondays from 4:15 to 5:15.
The girls were asked to put the concept of sharing, listening, having joy in another’s accomplishments and experiences into action.
In the fall, they concentrated on discovery in God’s world and went to Crescent Park. They shared their treasures by presenting pendants to each other. For six weeks, each grade was involved in a discovery project of “Who Am I”? Grade one girls presented their Messenger Book, Grade twos presented personal puppets in action; and, the Grade threes presented a Batik wall hanging on ‘How I see Myself’. At Christmas the Messengers made mints, egg-carton baskets, and shine-art Christmas tree decorations in celebration of giving.
Each meeting had “message time” and the children renewed their pledge and learned or grew in some new insight related to their life and their faith in God and Jesus Christ.
Explorers (Jean Graham)
Ten girls from Grades 4, 5 and 7 met from January to mid-April. During this time they had a Valentine party, put on a very successful pancake breakfast for the Grade 4 class from Koostatak, held an Easter worship/star service and a final graduation party. Most of the group returned in June to decorate for the 50th Anniversary “Sam” party. The girls’ special contribution to the anniversary was the delicious cakes which they helped to serve. That night five of the girls received their “E” pins and were officially graduated.
There was no Explorer group organized in the fall. It was hoped that leaders and girls would come forward in September of 1976 to join in a meaningful Explorer program.
Junior High (Millie Russell, Donna and Paul Thain)
Activities for the Junior High students began with Camp Wasaga – September 13 – 15. Twenty-three from our congregation joined eight other youth from Brandon, Carberry and Windsor Park. The Shwetz’s, Godfreys, Betty Cairns, Linda Green and Pat Melnyk gave leadership while Em Osman kept them well fed and happy.
Twenty-one Grades seven and eight met regularly in the Teen Lounge each Sunday during church service under the leadership of Doug Lockhart, Betty Cairns and Linda Green. Special events included:
- A lunch party held on November 8th to celebrate “Belonging Is”
- Calendars were sold to raise $37 for new toys for the “White Gift” project in Vogar, Manitoba
- Tally-ho and Supper Party
- Preparation and presentation of the Christmas Eve Service
The group enjoyed being together.
A group of 15 Grade 9 girls and boys met each Sunday at 11:00 a.m. from October to May. The format was generally based on “The fold out, push out, think and do posters” printed by the United Church of Canada especially for this age group.
The group also helped Jack Nesbitt make up the hampers from the white gifts and deliver them to Vogar at Christmas time.
Youth Group (Craig Ritchie, Coordinator)
The Young Peoples Group began November 28th – 30th at a retreat held at Red Rock Lodge. This retreat was very successful and from it a group of 20-25 consistent attenders evolved.
The group met each Sunday evening from 7:30 to 10:00 p.m. during which time they combined both fun and serious learning. This was due to the never ending skills of Sally Shwetz and the general desire for togetherness of the group.
A Bible study made up of approximately 6 people also emerged and they met every Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m.