The history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Manitoba started in the rural areas when colporteurs, Mr and Mrs C. D. Richards, began distributing literature in 1889. The first organized church was in Wakopa. The first convert is believed to have been Neil McGill who later became a minister. He apparently was given a copy of ‘Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation’ which was originally sold in North Dakota and, through reading it, accepted the Adventist message. Neil McGill’s son, David, of White Rock, B.C. provided some information for the ‘Historical Highlights’, a history of the church compiled in 1970 by Mary and Georgia Neithercut and Elder and Mrs. Roger Ferris. ‘Historical Highlights’ and ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ by J. Ernest Monteith, along with the recollections and experiences of many people, provided the background material given here.
THE ENGLISH CHURCH
By 1895 the Adventist message had spread to Winnipeg, also through the work of colporteurs, some of whom were Arthur Huntley, E.M. Chapman and G.W. Sowler. During the winter of 1895 W.H. Falconer held a series of meetings in the Trades Hall in Winnipeg and, at the conclusion of the series, organized a church of thirteen members on April 14, 1895. A charter member of this congregation was Mrs. Barbara Campbell. She was the mother of Mrs. G. Miller, who became a Bible worker, and the grandmother of Mrs. Lillian Raee-Nielsen who still resides in Winnipeg. Another granddaughter is Mrs. Olive Sims of B.C. Other names of some of the first converts were Mr. and Mrs Edward Kelly, Mr. Knight, Mr. Webster and Mr. Rice. By the end of the year 1896 the membership had grown to thirty-five. According to Seventh-day Adventist in Canada, some of the early Adventist came under the penaly of Sunday laws. One of these was Edward Kelly who was fined $1.00 and costs for operating his barber shop on Sunday. When he refused to pay, the bailiff seized $40.00 worth of goods to cover the fine.
Early ministers who served the Winnipeg English congregation included Elders Faulkner, Ritchie, McGill and Adams. Bible Workers figured prominently in the growth of the church and some of the first were Barbara Purdon Cowan and Stella Puff.
In 1911 V.W. Robb arrived to take charge of he work in Winnipeg where the members were just completing a new church building at the corner of Alexander Avenue and Fountain Street. Elders Robb and Soper and colporteur Archie Magee gave strong leadership to the church in this period and two new converts, Johnston Neithercut and John Zachary, later became prominent church workers
The 1920’s were flourishing years for the Church in Winnipeg. Elder T.E. Unruh served as Young People’s Secretary for the Conference when Elder George Skinner was Conference President and Elder Stemple White was pastor of the English church. Sister Balkwell as a faithful Bible worker of the period. Elder C.L. Paddock, Sr. came to Winnipeg on January 20, 1920 to open a branch office for the new Canadian Watchman Press, finding the 20 below zero weather a bit of a shock, especially when Elder Skinner remarked on the wonderful day, the precious one having been “a bit on the cool side.”
The Press was located on the third floor of the Nokomis Building, not far from Eaton’s Store. Information from Elder Paddock indicates church services were being held in the Scottish Memorial Lodge Hall in the wholesale section until moving into the Bannerman Avenue building. Church services and MV meetings were crowded from the beginning and friendliness and fellowship in the Bannerman Church were long remembered. Elder White did considerable writing for the local newspaper. He was also an accomplished violinist. Sara Aspin (grandmother of Marjory Buckle and Marion Bilyk) was the first Bible worker for the Bannerman Avenue English congregation and studied with the Neithercuts and Nentwigs, among others. Mrs. Aspin lived in the Bannerman church and served as caretaker. Convert Blanche Nentwig was leader of the Dorcas Society for many years and the Neithercuts gave dedicated support to the church throughout their lives.
The next pastor for the English Church was Elder F.W. Johnston who held evangelistic meetings in a theatre building and brought in many new converts. Names from this period included the Wardell family, Birches, Molly Bernhardt, Georgia Neithercut, Mrs. Rynhardt, Mrs. Nellie Wickstorm, Violet Bader, Mrs. O’Brien, Mrs. Powers, Mrs Lillian Johnston, Eunice Hogg, Mrs. Banks and Eddy, the Heinemans and Marie Dachuk . Others baptized around this time were he Arthur Brusch family, the McKendry family, the Nentwigs, the Chomiaks, Mr. Havelock, Mae Kinney, Mrs. Potter and Mrs. Alda Blythe.
An interview with Elder Johnston in 1959 reported in The Lord is My Shepherd, revealed a wonderful example of divine healing. A lady who was attending his evangelistic meetings had become seriously ill and was given only two hours to live. Her daughter requested Elder Johnston to pray for the lady’s recovery. While stating he could not guarantee recover, Elder Johnston asked for healing if she would be faithful to Jesus and follow the truths she was learning. His prayer was answered immediately to the amazement of the doctor who was present. The lady continued to attend the meetings and was among those baptized
The need became urgent for a larger church building and a lot was purchased at 355 Young Street. While the new building was under construction services were held in the Royal Templars’ Hall across the street. The head carpenter for the construction was Brother McIvor, father of a later Conference President in Manitoba-Saskatchewan, Elder Don McIvor. Cost of the building was $24,000 and members did a lot of the finishing work themselves. Members were asked to pay for the pews; short ones cost $20 and long ones $30. The building opened in 1924 and is still standing, having been purchased in 1963 by the CBC for use as a TV studio.
Elder Paddock reported that Sister Bella Bradley (who had only one leg) lived in the basement and kept the building spotlessly clean. Names of members whom he recalled included George Rice, Arthur Brush and family, Wardells, Johnstons, Bella Bradley, Archie Groves and boys, Walter and Elsie Johnston, Belleaus, McKendrys, Neithercuts, Eatons, Henry Parker, Mae Kinney and Aylmer, and Miss S. Johnson who as a Bible worker among the Icelandic people. Other contributors to Historical Highlights mention among their fond memories of Winnipeg the inspiring talks given by Elder Paddock to the young people in Friday night MV meetings.
The first marriage performed in the Young Street Church was that of James Verner and Doris Aspin who were the parents of Marjory Buckle and Marion Bilyk. Marjory claims the honour of being the first baby dedicated in the Young Street Church. Other marriages recorded in the 1920’s were of Lily Belleau and Gordon Maxwell in 1926 and Lily Martin and Henry Buhler in 1928.
The church was dedicated in the Fall of 1924. The following Spring Elder and Mrs. P. G. Biy were among the first persons baptized. The Biys served many years in the literature ministry. Many went from the Young Street church to serve the Lord in other areas.
Elder Libby was the minister in the early 1930’s but there is little record of church activities for the period. Marriages solemnized in the decade included Evelyn Burkitt and Allan Millar, Florence Bowes-Howard and Johnston Neithercut, and Emily Graeb and Oscar Liske in 1931 and Lillian Miller and Siegfred Raae-Nielsen in 1932.
In 1933 Elder and Mrs. O.B. Gerhart arrived to pastor the Young Street Church and remained for five years. Some of those baptized during his term included Mrs. M. Ford, Mrs. Evelyn Wilkinson (who is till a member in Winnipeg), Mary Neithercut and the Shanks Family. A successful series of meetings in St Vital brought in a number of new members including the Hirtls, Miss Baker, the Karpows and the Lindsays. Elder Gerhart also held meetings in Selkirk, bringing in the Shaws and the Turnbull family.
In 1938 Elder Balmer became the minister of the English church. At that time the membership was approximately 160. Pastor Balmer had a weekly radio broadcast over CKRC. Strong support was given to the pastors of this period by Mr. and Mrs. Archie Bruce and many of the previously mentioned converts. In 1941 Elder Balmer performed the marriage of Eric Fisher and Audrey Turnbull.
In 1950 the disastrous Red River flood affected the Young Street Church in more ways than one. Serious flooding of the basement required much hard work and expense on the part of the members before everything was “shipshape”. The Dorcas Society did outstanding work in giving aid to many Winnipeg families who lost everything in the flood. Tons of clothing and bedding were shipped from SDA churches across Canada and the United States. Clothing depots were set up in Adventist homes nearest to the most badly flooded areas. That year the Ingathering goal was reached in short order as citizens gave gladly to show appreciation for the service provided by Adventists in working in conjuction with the Red Cross to alleviate suffering.
Elder and Mrs. Philbrick ministered to the English congregation following the Balmers. The marriage of Bob Radcliffe and Gladys McKendry was performed by Elder Philbrick in 1942. Bob later became an auditor for the General Conference and a Vice-President of Loma Linda University.
The Lloyd Stelzers, talented in both music and evangelism, ministered to the English Church from 1942 to 1945 and conducted two well-attended series of meetings in the Dominion Theatre. Elder Stelzer officiated at the wedding of William Melynchenko and Anne Dummy in 1943.
Elder J.J. Williamson and family came to the English church in 1944 and held evangelistic meetings in the Dominion Theatre. Some of his converts were the Lawrence Kielys, the Don Calders and the George Lanes. During 1948-49 Elder R.E. Metcalfe held evangelistic services in the Walker Theatre and brought in many converts to the church, including Mr. and Mrs. George Kraushar and Mrs and Mr Robert Moen. Elder W. Streifling was the next pastor, serving until 1950. Forty-five members came into the church during his ministry. Marriages in this period were Jerry Friesen and Bilie Radcliffe and Tom Davis and Margaret Penner.
From 1950-53 Elder G.S. Remick pastored the English Church. He and his wife were talented musically and were instrumental in about forty persons joining the church. One of their converts was Lucy Mills who as a faithful and helpful member for many years.
Elder and Mrs. C.A. Reeves followed the Remick. Elder Reeves had an exceptional command of the English language and his knowledge of the Bible kept many enthralled as he presented an evangelistic series in the Dominion Theatre. Mr. A. Krym, Miss Mariod Dunlop and Robert and Audry Kraushar were among about forty persons he baptized in 1954. For these evangelist meetings a choir was formed, supported by the three Winnipeg churches. The choir consisted of 57 members.
Elder and Mrs. L.W. Taylor, Arlene and Allan, arrived in Winnipeg in 1954 and pastored the English Church until 1960. They introduced a “Voice of Youth” program and used their musical talents to bless the congregation. Among those baptized during Elder Taylor’s ministry were Ella Funk Ferris, Garth Fisher, Donna Heinricks Rose, Margaret, Dwight and Janice Rose (Cadogan), Noreen Duffy and Barbara Cuthbertson. Marriages were performed for William Plantje and Alice Prier in 1957, Byron Liske and Charlotte Moen in 1958, Herman Nilson and Elaine Moen and Robert Connors and Beverly Henrickson in 1959.
Elder and Mrs. Ray Matthews followed the Taylors. In January, 1963, Wilton Holdings made and offer to purchase the 355 Young Street Church for $50,000. Elder Matthews was directed by the membership to make a counter-offer of $60,000 which was accepted. The plan was for the English congregation to meet in the new school auditorium temporarily until new accommodations could be found. The temporary arrangement lasted almost eight years.
A Locating and Building Committee was formed. After considering several locations for a new church over several months, the membership voted at a church business meeting chaired by Conference President, Elder A. W. Kaytor to purchase property at 1314 Henderson Highway for $21,500. On December 11, 1963, the deed was registered. However, debate about the suitability of the location continued and progress was halted.
Baptisms and transfers of membership during Elder Matthew’s ministry included Paul Pasika, Robert McDonal, Nelson Smith, Shirley Jamam, Max and Louise Rudisaile and family from Puerto Rico and Gilbert Murray from Trinidad. Some of the weddings solemnized were for Donna Jean Calder and Stanley Dickson in 1960, Shirley Haughland and Rudolph Reinhart in 1961 and Pat Howes and Louis Johnson in 1962.
When the Matthews received a call to Oshawa in August, 1963, Ronald Myers was chosen by the Conference to pastor the English Church, a choice which was much appreciated by the membership. Ron and Isabelle had come to Winnipeg in 1949. He had taught briefly in the church school before deciding to do full-time colporteur work. Isabelle was a primary teacher in the church school for many years.
Elder and Mrs. Rudolph Skoretz, who had been working in the Brandon district, moved to the English Church in August, 1965. They were not strangers to Winnipeg as Pastor Skoretz had previously pastored the Ukrainian Church. Some baptized by Elder Skoretz were Alice Arogonnes, Michael Skibicki, Edward Guthro, Marilyn Boyko, Sharon Buckly, Bonnie Huff and Bob Rose.
Elder and Mrs. Rober Ferris, Jeri-Beth and Timothy arrived in Winnipeg in January 1968 to be greeted by -30 degrees F. Their son, Jeffrey had been left behind in a hospital to recover from a broken leg suffered in a car accident along the way.
Seeing the urgent need for a new church, Elder Ferris encouraged the membership to reorganize the building committee and begin in earnest to study possible locations. Twenty-five possibilities were included in the report to the church and following a day of fasting and prayer the decision was made to re-affirm plans to build on the Henderson Highway property. In the summer of 1968 advisory committees of each church department submitted their requirements to the Buildingin Committee, chaired by Robert McDonald. Committee Secretary Bernard Skoretz summarized them to be presented to the architect, Prof. John D. Welch. A stewardship plan was adobted with initial commitments totaling $70,000. With promises of help from the local and Union conferences it appeared construction could soon begin.
The old house on the property was demolished and trees removed by church members. Tenders were called in July, 1969, and came in indicating that though the plans were lovely the members could not afford them. The plans were altered and after much work by Elder Ferris and Ed Rodzen of Rodzen Construction, it seemed possible to maintain the basic layout concept within the budget available. Ground was broken April 12, 1970. With the co-operation, effort and skill of many wiling members, as well as the sub-trades, the project proceeded. It was hard work but afforded opportunity for wonderful fellowship as young and old alike pitched in to do the job.
Elder Ferris had challenged the members to walk the seven kilometers from the Academy to the new church “whatever the weather was.” March 27, 1971 as the day! Thirteen centimeters (cm) of sloppy snow fell Friday evening, but Sabbath morning after a special prayer, 65 members followed Elder and Mrs. Ferris for the hour and five minute walk. Others came by car. The deacons held the congregation in the lobby. Elder Ferris spoke briefly of God’s house and invited all to enter in silence to pray and meditate. Praise and joy followed.
Other pastors who have served the Henderson Highway congregation have been William Kennedy, Arthur Spenst, Allan Freed, Rudy James, Ronald Bissell, Laverne Schlehuber, John Gilbert, Raul Hernandez, Harry Sackett, Robertr Hossack and Ronald Sydenham. Both the Spenst and Freed families left the cold of Manitoba for the heat of Pakistan and served a number of years there.
Henderson Highway Church is blessed with many young people and for years the need for a youth pastor was apparent. As funding restraints prevented the Conferencee from providing anyone, the church, under the guidance of Pastor Ron Syndenham, decided to sponsor someone with its own resoures. Furtunately, Wesley Szamko had recently graduated from CUC and in 1994 became Henderson Highway Youth pastor. With his enthusiasm, musical talent and leadership ability.
THE GERMAN CHURCH
The first German-speaking Adventist congregation in Manitoba was organized at Morden on July 22, 1894 with eighteen members. Among early converts in the Morden district were the grandparents of Elder Arthur Spenst who later pastored the Henderson Highway Church in Winnipeg.
The year 1912 saw a considerable evangelistic activity in Winnipeg. Two series of meetings were held, one for the English-speaking people by V.W. Robb, and one for those who spoke German by O. Ziprick, assisted by Mrs. Aggie Nikkel, Salmina Thomas and H.J. Dirksen. The German meetings were well attended and resulted in a number of baptisms. A church group was started at the home of John Dederer. Those present were Fred Hilderman, Alex Gritzfelt, Mr. and Mrs Adolf Dederer, Alex Dederer, Mr. and Mrs John Dederer, Mr. and Mrs Albert Honderich, Mr. and Mrs E. Klatt and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Heinrich Maier and daughter, Mrs. Wishert, Woldermer Besel, Fred Schwindt, Mr. and Mrs G. Kettner, Lewis Klatt, H.J. Dirksen and Mrs. Wiensch.
In 1925 Henry Berg held meetings in Winnipeg and a German congregation was organized in November 6, 1926. Present for the occasion were B.P. Hoffman from the General Conference, S.A. Ruskjer, Union President and Lyle C. Shepherd local president. For several years the small church on Bannerman Avenue housed both the English and German congregations. Some of the earliest members of the German congregation were Henry, Lydia and Herbert Berg, Ernes and Emily Shultz, Margareta Gimpel, Andrew and Gladys Busch, Mrs. Elizabeth Heinemann, Mrs. Katie Hartz, Mrs. Katie Bernhardt and Mrs. Mary Graeb. Two daughters of Mrs. Graeb, Freda Fenske and Pauline McKay, still hold membership in Winnipeg Adventist churches (1995).
In 1934, when Elder Sam Reile as pastor, a small building was purchased by the German congregation and moved to the corner of Mountain and McKenzie. Some local residents, who objected to having a church at that location, were startled to awake one morning to find the church standing there, having been moved during the night.
During the 1940’s, under the leadership of Elder John D. Neufeld, members began planning and working for a larger, more representative house of worship. In 1947 a new church was completed, largely by members of the congregation, at the corner of Mountain and Andrews. One of the construction workers was Victor Trupp. Elder Herbert Esslinger came to pastor the congregation at that time. Between 1952 and 1958 a wave of immigrants from Germany, and almost weekly new arrivals were welcomed by the congregation. A number of these people are still in Winnipeg, including Karl Hergenroeder, Regina Hergenroeder, Lydia Koenecke, Veronika and Paul Komor, Gretel Loewen, Eric Mueller, Ursula Denda Segal, Horst and Irmgard Sokolies, Leonhardt and Doris Tonn, Ed Tonn, Heinz and Elvira Umbach, Elizabeth Wittinger, Fritz and Irmgard Wycisk and their daughter Eva Jordan, and Sophie Yamniuk (mother of Walter, Harry, Dan and Heidi).
Pastor and Mrs. Esslinger went beyond the call of duty to assist the new German immigrants in every way possible with such matters as finding accommodations and employment in Winnipeg. Jobs were very scarce and the pay was low. Many of the immigrant ladies found work in the garment industry for 42 cents an hour and many of the men did not fare much better. The Esslingers gave many immigrants shelter, and meals in their own home for the first few days after arrival. They also regularly invited the youth of the church to their home on Saturday evenings and many memorable and lively social events were enjoyed in their home. In appreciation for their kindness, many of the men assisted every Sunday in the building for the Esslinger’s new home on the corner of Atlantic and McPhillips, while the women prepared lunches for the “carpenters” in Esslingers old home.
The members of the German Church who were Canadian born of German heritage, as well as the members who had come to Canada after the First World War, assisted the new immigrants and welcomed them into their homes for lunches on Sabbaths, or brought groceries and preserves from their gardens. Some of these were the Penner family, the Adolf Lipps and Gustav Lipps families, the Kwirams, the Graeb family, the Litkes, Mary Granke and he Erhardts. It did not take long for the new immigrants to settle in and make Canada their new home. They soon started assisting as many of the next group of newcomers as they could. Franz and Erna Hill had an open door policy, and did not just show and interest in the physical needs of their guests but also in their spiritual needs.
Of the new immigrants, Franz Hill was the first to be elected as elder of the church. Ferdinand Ruprecht also served as an elder for many years.
Many of the children of the German immigrants acquired graduate and post graduate degrees. Several became medical doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers, pastors, computer software designers, chemists, hospital administrators, accountants, lawyers, social workers, technicians, managers, etc. There are also several accomplished musicians among them.
The pastors of the German Church were also responsible for the German churches in Morden and River Hills (Whitemouth area). The River Hills cemetery is the resting place of several deceased members of the Winnipeg and River Hills churches.
Pastor Rudolf Aussner in 1955 and shortly thereafter conducted evangelistic meetings in the German Church which were very successful. Prior to each meeting, Pastor Aussner and the young people gathered in the basement of the church in a large circle to pray that the Lord would grant a full sanctuary for the meeting. God never failed! They church was filled to capacity each time. Pastor Aussner enrolled all interested young people in the St. Johns Ambulance course, several in the Master Guide program, and in the Lifeguard program at the Sherbrook Swimming Pool. Most Sabbath afternoons were spent in Peanut Park, close to the German church, or in beautiful Kildonan Park.
Tobogganing at Lockport was popular winter and summer train trips (costing 90 cents round trip) on Sundays to Gimli on Lake Winnipeg were enjoyed by the close-knit group of young people. More than twenty weddings took place in the German church between 1954 and 1963 as many young people found their partners within the church.
During several evangelist meetings conducted in the German Church by Elder O. Ziprick (uncle of Ethel Heinricks) and Pastor Aussner, among others, in the 1950’s and early 1960’s many people gave their hearts to the Lord and are still actively involved in Winnipeg churches including Ferdinand and Eva Ruprecht, Paul Komor, Anne Kupries/Sackman, Kaethe Vogel, Regina Hergenroeder, Horst Sokolies and Leonhardt and Doris Tonn.
By 1954 the German Church was bursting at the seams, when many of the Canadian-born members transferred to the English Church on Young Street. Unfortunately, the harsh winters and the abundance of mosquitoes in Winnipeg in summer were more than most German immigrants were prepared to handle. Therefore, during the 1960’s large numbers left for California, B.C., or Ontario, and several moved back to Germany. Pastor Edmund Grentz and his family came from Michigan and served the German congregation for seven years. He was followed briefly by Pastor Pershing who filled in until the arrival of Pastor Georg Grellman in 1967. The Grellmanns had been missionaries in Africa and quickly endeared themselves to the congregation. Their home was open for musical practice and social activities, etc. The members were deeply saddened by the illness of Sister Helen Grellman and, though earnest prayers were offered on her behalf, she passed away soon after they had accepted a call to pastor in Wisconsin in 1972. Pastor Grellmann’s son, Dr. David Grellmann served a number of years at a leprosy hospital in Africa and his daughter, Evelyn, with her family, serves in Africa now.
Henry Litke/Breault was instrumental in obtaining the German “Voice of Hope” sermons from Germany. These programs were aired weekly on CKJS Radio from 1980 to 1983. For many of these programs Irene Koenecke Penner and Reinhardt Penner (daughter and son-in-law of Lydia Koenecke) presented beautiful musical renditions. Horst Sokolies and Leonhardt Tonn acted as announcers.
Others who have ministered to the German congregation include John Bahr, Pastor Stoehr, Arther Hiebert, Brian Bechthold, Mervin Kempert, Larry Duffy, Bob Hossack, Andrew Merttinen, and the present pastor, Elder John Wesley. Services are now conducted in English, although German-speaking Sabbath School classes have been maintained. The congregation is now known as the Mountain-Andrews Seventh-day Adventist Church and has 61 members.
THE ICELANDIC WORK
In 1914 David Gulbrandsen arrived in Winnipeg to work among the Icelandic people. He served for many years in the Manitoba Conference and was responsible for an Icelandic congregation in Winnipeg. He also labored in Gimli and Winnipegosis and translated several books into the Icelandic language.
THE UKRAINAIN CHURCH
Work among the Ukrainian-speaking people in Manitoba began in 1921 when J.H. Zachary, a layman, sold 5,000 copies of Hope of the World in the Ukrainian language in a fourteen-month period. At Zachary’s request, Elder G. H. Skinner came to the Sandy Lake area and conducted a few meetings, baptizing three persons. When opposition from the established church became violent, Zachary and his assistant, Simeon Demchuk, moved to Winnipeg to continue their labors. Money was scarce but Zachary was very resourceful and used some ingenious methods to fund the work. A well-to-do non-member, Mr. Chambers, of biscuit company fame, lent his name and influence to the solicitation of funds and Zachary managed to get The Great Controversy and Home Physician translated into Ukrainian. A church building was purchased for $6,000 at the corner of McGregor and Pritchard and served the membership until the 1980’s.
Evangelistic efforts were held in East Selkirk and Transcona. Despite opposition and misrepresentation, twelve people joined the church from the East Selkirk meetings. George Soloniuk, father of W.G. Soloniuk who later became president of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference, came to assist Elder Demchuk with the Transcona meetings and a Ukrainian Church was organized in Winnipeg on November 21, 1925. Elder George Soloniuk and Elder P.G. Yakovenko served as pastors in the 1930’s.
Membership in 1926 was reported to be 36. At that time the English congregation numbered 146 and the German congregation 14. Elder Nicholas Ilchuk pastored the Ukrainian Church in the mid 1940’s and also filled in the English Church briefly and efficiently between regular ministers. Elder Ilchuk became the speaker of the Ukrainian “Voice of Hope” radio broadcast and has had a very fruitful ministry for many years.
As time passed the size of the Ukrainian congregation dwindled, while, at the same time, the age and condition of the building made its upkeep costly. By the late 1970’s a good number of Filipino Adventists had immigrated to Winnipeg and were attending the various churches. Under the ministry of Pastor William Kozachenko, this group was invited to meet with the Ukrainian membership. In 1980 the church became known as Winnipeg Central Seventh-day Adventist Church. Succeeding pastors were Rick Harwood and Briach Bechthold. While looking for a new church home, the congregation rented a United Church on Sheppard Street for about two years. In the Fall of 1985 property was bought at 260 Kotelko, off Lagimodiere Blvd, in St. Boniface, and the building at McGregor and Prichard was sold.
THE SILVER HIEGHTS CHURCH
Shortly after the opening of Henderson Church in 1971, the Conference purchased the former St. Stephens Lutheran Church at 2140 Ness Avenue in the west end of the city. Twenty-four individuals from Henderson Highway Church became the charter members on June 30, 1973.
The building was found to have a number of structural problems which proved costly to remedy, but the members persevered. Sister Rosanna Scott, whose membership dated back to the English Church on Young Street, was one of the first to sense the financial implications of forming a new church. With love and dedication she gave a sizable donation to help clear up outstanding debts and defray operating expenses. The name of Elder Rudy James who served as interim pastor in 1974-75 should also be mentioned. Silver Heights Church was blessed with his spiritual support, guidance and leadership. An organ donated by Mrs. Nettie Krym and Fred and Geraldine is still in use.
The first communion service was held April 14, 1973 and the first baptism for Eslyn Glasgow, was performed June 17, 1973 by Elder Bill Kennedy. A series of meetings was held by Evangelist Bob Hossack in 1974 which added to the membership.
Other pastors who have served this congregation are William Kennedy (part-time), John Bahr, Mel Djkowich, John Gilbert, Colin Griffith, Rick Harwood and Frank McMiller. Pastor Howard Homenchuck also assisted from time to time. Ismael Ali pastored in the 1990’s.
THE TRANSCONA CHURCH (1)
In September, 1975, thirty-seven members of Henderson Highway Church established a congregation in Transcona, meeting in the lounge of Park Manor Personal Care Home. The first pastor was Mel Djkowich, followed by Arthur Hiebert. In 1984 the group rented Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Windsor Park for a couple of years and in October 1986 became part of the Southeast Winnipeg Church.
THE SOUTHEAST CHURCH
Winnipeg Southeast Seventh-day Adventist Church was the name given to the property purchased near Lagimodiere Blvd. The site had a Quonset building on it. With much dedication and hard work, the members renovated and refurbished the barn-like structure into a comfortable house of worship. Benches and an organ were obtained from the Melfort church. Having a good number of young couples with families, as well as dedicated older members, this was a vibrant congregation. The enjoyment of music and plenty of social activity made for good fellowship. In 1994 the members voted to join the Charleswood Church. The Southeast property, which comprises a little over an acre of land, is still owned by the Church.
THE CHARLESWOOD/WEST PARK CHURCH
On January 1, 1987, a beautiful new church was opened on property at 416 Cathcart Street, directly across the street from West Park Manor Personal Care Home. There were forty charter members. The church has a seating capacity of 300 and is beautifully appointed. Pastor John Gilbert was the first minister, followed by Rick Harwood, Frank McMiller and the present pastor, John Wesley. Unfortunately, this church was subject to a perennial problem afflicting Winnipeg-the transfer of members to other provinces or countries. The small congregation found it increasingly difficult to carry the program and on July 16, 1994, the Southeast members joined them in fellowship. The church was re-named West Park Seventh-day Adventist Church with 175 members.
OTHER CULTURAL GROUP
Winnipeg is well known for its ethnic diversity and our church reflects that fact. The need for German and Ukrainian language churches decreased as the young people became fluent in English. However, in the 1970’s a number of Korean immigrants began coming to Canada and a vibrant Korean-speaking congregation met in Henderson Highway Church Centennial Hall for a number of Years. This group seldom had the luxury of a pastor who spoke their language and the leadership of Ben and Rose Kwon must be given credit for the organization and growth of this fellowship. Ben usually served as translator as English-speaking pastors preach. For a time Howard Homenchuk served as pastor, along with his duties as chaplain of West Park Manor.
The Spanish and Hungarian groups also held Sabbath School Classes in their own language at the Henderson Highway Church.
The islands of the Caribbean have also enriched the Winnipeg churches with many members. One of the first to arrive was Rudy Jacob in the 1950’s. Henderson Highway Church expresses appreciation to Rudy by making him First Elder, Choir Director, Prison Ministries Director and Sabbath School teacher at the same time! Many others have come from the West Indies and despite the “climate shock” have remained to contribute their talents and resources to our community. Their warmth, friendliness and caring are a great blessing to our Winnipeg churches.
SOURCE: The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Winnipeg – A history of people places and events, compiled in 1995