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.
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.