Grace United Church - History

Immigration Hall 1904–1906:  The log church built in 1904 for the Anglicans was filled
to capacity, so the congregations of Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists met in the
Immigration Hall.  

Wesleyn Methodist Church 1906–1925:    During the ministry of Rev. Naylor the first Methodist Church was built.  The ‘little whitechurch’ as it was fondly called was unique in that it had a sloping floor and plasterfinished walls.  Both of which were unusual at the time.

Grace United Church 1925–1949: The name ‘Grace Church’ was not applied until 1920 and on March 8, 1925 it was named Grace United Church.

Grace United Church 1949–1961:  By 1946 it was evident that the congregation had
outgrown the church.  The basement of what is now the church hall was ready by 1949.  
The upper hall was completed and dedicated in March 1950.

Grace United Church 1961–Present:  In 1957 it was decided that a program to enlarge
and rebuild the church was necessary.  On October 22, 1961 the present church was
dedicated following the completion of a $140,000 construction project.  In 1981 more
renovations were made including another office, doubling the narthex and adding a three-
story structure for Sunday school rooms and choir room below.  In 1995 the new roofline
was added to the front of the church over the meeting room and narthex.

Timeline:

1903:  A Methodist congregation met in the Immigration Hall in the Barr Colony settlement known as Lloydminster until a church could be built.

1906:  A small church known as the Wesleyan Church was built on the site of the current sanctuary.

1920:  The church became known as Grace Methodist Church.

1925:  After Union, the Methodist church became the United Church.  While some local Presbyterian congregations joined with the Methodist congregation at Union, Knox Presbyterian Church did not join Union and continues to worship to this day in a downtown location.

1949:  The 1906 church was demolished and the basement constructed for a new church.   The congregation worshipped in this basement until money was raised to complete the new church a year later.

1950:  The new church was completed.  Its main floor is the current Upper Hall. 

1961:  The current sanctuary, kitchen area, balcony, a portion of the current narthex, the Meeting Room and office space were added.

1981:  Additional office space and a three-storey addition at the rear of the property were added to provide a choir room and space for the Sunday School program.

19??:  Some modifications were made to the front of the sanctuary, to accommodate the Joy Singers and a larger choir.

19??:  Plans were drawn for a re-development on the current site but no structural changes have been made to the current building since 1981.

1993:  A new Whirlitzer organ was purchased with funds raised specially for that purpose. Minister Emeritus Martin led the project.

19??:  Accessibility concerns prompted the congregation to have an elevator installed.

2001:  Installed a stained glass window- a gift of the Hemstock family.

2002:  Installed a new sound system.

2004:  Water leaks prompted re-roofing and change is the metal façade on the exterior of the narthex/Meeting Room exterior.

2005:  Replaced a 44 year-old boiler.

2007:  Another fund raising campaign was used to purchase cushioned seats for all the pews in the church.

2008:  The Property and Maintenance Committee prepared a written report for Central Board in which it detailed building deficiencies and asked for its guidance on either a major repair and/or renovation or constructing a new building.

February 2009:  At the Annual Meeting, the Building Committee was redefined as the“Options for the Future Committee” and was asked to explore all building options and report to the congregation at a later date.   During its work, the Committee identified a potential asbestos problem.

July 2009:  An environmental consulting firm confirmed that there were building materials in the facility that contained asbestos. As these materials would need to be removed before any renovation or demolition could occur and because there was concern about the material being an ongoing health hazard, the congregation decided to have the offending material removed as soon as possible.

October 2009:  The church facility was vacated for several weeks to allow asbestos abatement professionals to remove the offending material. Worship services were held in the Legacy Centre while offices were moved to a vacant building a block away.  The asbestos abatement program cost approximately $60,000.

June 2010:  At an informational meeting of the congregation, the Options for the Future Committee presented its report to the congregation without making a recommendation.   One option was that a $300,000 - $400,000 renovation of the current structure could address the most pressing deficiencies.  Those in attendance did not agree with the conclusion of the Committee and passed a motion proposing the building of a new church. (The presumption was that the new church would be on a different site.)

Fall 2010:  Central Board asks the Options for the Future Committee to explore all options on behalf of the congregation.  This exploration should include renovation and “new church” options on the current and other sites.

Winter 2011:  The Options for the future Committee contracted with Bexson Construction to assist it with cost and feasibility questions related to facility options for the congregation.  The consultants indicated that demolishing much of the current structure (except the sanctuary) and rebuilding on the current site was feasible.  They provided the Committee with cost information for three options based on current construction costs.

Spring 2011:  The Options for the Future Committee outlined for the congregation, three options for its consideration.  1.  Renovate the current structure for about $1M.  2.  Retain the current sanctuary and rebuild on the current site for about $2.7M - $3M.  Build a new church on a new site for perhaps $5M.

May 2011:  A congregation-wide information package was mailed to every family providing information on three options and encouraging individuals and groups to discuss the information and other issues in preparation for a congregational decision to be taken in June 2011.

June 2011:  A congregation-wide telephone survey indicated that the majority of respondents (54%) favored re-building the church on the current site, 24% favored a new church (new location) and 23% favored repairing the current structure.  Nearly all (99%) of those in the minority indicated a willingness to go along with the majority.

June 26, 2011:  The congregation accepted the results of a congregation-wide telephone survey and passed a motion that future facility planning focus on retaining the current sanctuary and the re-development on the current downtown property.

July 2011:  Adjacent property (for parking) west of the current sanctuary became available. Two families purchased it with the intent that it be donated to the church at a future date.

September 2011:  Congregation leaders attended a workshop (Den Haan/Strickland) and heard about the importance of focusing first on important emotional and symbolic aspects of our church before detailed planning begins.

For a history of the United Church in Canada click here.