Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 21, 1952
NUMBER 16, PAGE 3,5b

The Church In Alberta, Canada

S. C. Kinningham, Calgary, Alberta

The activities of the church in the province of Alberta for the past half-century have centered around a single congregation. In 1905 some brethren came over from England and settled in Calgary where they formed the first congregation in the province of the New Testament church. A year or two later they erected a modest meeting house which, from the beginning, has been fairly well located. The membership numbered perhaps around fifty in 1912, the largest it has been at any time, and was made up almost entirely of brethren who came from England. Due to a depression a year or two later a number of the brethren moved to the west coast and left behind only a small handful to carry on in Calgary. Different men in the congregation did what preaching was done except for nearly a year when brother Henry S. Ficklin devoted full time to the work. The church in Calgary has from its beginning remained the only congregation in the province meeting after the New Testament order. At times they met only to break bread on the Lord's day.

In the spring of 1949 one of the elders of the church in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, who works for Phillips Petroleum Co. was sent to Calgary on business for the company. He met with the brethren for worship on the Lord's day and was asked to preach for them. He endeavored to stir them up to greater activity in the work of the Lord and when they expressed a desire for help he suggested that the church in Bartlesville might be able to send their local preacher for a meeting and to make further recommendations. In the fall of that year I was sent by the church in Bartlesville for my first meeting with the brethren here. During the meeting six were baptized and three reclaimed from the Christian Church, including one of their elders. However, some of those baptized had been accepted previously on their sectarian baptism. The brethren agreed to accept a full time preacher if one could be sent here and supported by some church in the south. They also agreed to bear as much of the burden themselves as they were able. Efforts were made to find a suitable man for the work who would be willing to come and brethren to support him. But none of those efforts were successful. The church in Bartlesville sent me back the following fall for another meeting and the brethren then were more anxious than ever before to have some man come to work full time with them. I went back to Oklahoma more firmly resolved to get somebody to come into this field if possible.

Upon presenting the situation here to a few congregations in Oklahoma and Texas after my second return, the Floral Heights congregation in Wichita Falls, Texas, offered to send me and my family here to do what we could to build up the church in this city and to spread New Testament Christianity throughout the province. We moved here the first of last year to give the best we have to offer to the cause of Christ in this section.

During the past eighteen months our efforts have been confined largely to the city of Calgary trying to build up the congregation here and evangelize the entire city. Meetings have been held in different parts of the city and Bible classes have been taught in different homes at nights through the week. But we find it extremely difficult to get people in this section to attend such meetings. In another effort to get the truth before the people we started writing an article in the largest newspaper of the city each week about a year ago and find that it is being read quite generally, not only in the city, but all over the province. We have established a number of contacts by this means and people all around are coming now to know about the church of Christ and what it stands for. We have been trying for the past sixteen months to get time on one of the local radio stations for a weekly program and have just this week been promised the time. We hope to be able to start the program in the near future. We believe this will be our most effective means of reaching the public with the gospel. We were able to conduct a fifteen minute program over one of the stations for three months last summer at an extremely early hour which brought letters of response from all over the province in spite of its being at the most undesirable hour of the day.

Considerable improvements were made last year on our meeting house, including two new class rooms and the installation of new pews in the auditorium. Seven have been baptized and three placed membership who moved here from Texas. Attendance has increased in all the services and ranges now from forty to sixty each Lord's day. The congregation has been able to pay for the pews and other improvements on the building along with the newspaper articles and radio work done. The Floral Heights congregation has stood behind the work here well, but there is urgent need for other men to he sent into the province. The capitol city 200 miles north of Calgary with a rapidly growing population from the south affords a wonderful opportunity for the church of the Lord. The Christian Church, wearing the name "Church of Christ," has four congregations in that city and a number of brethren moving there from other places meet to worship with them because there is no loyal congregation in the city and they have not had the faith and courage to start one. The city of Lethbridge 150 miles south of Calgary is another place that offers a challenge to the church. From recent investigation we find there are at least four members living in or near Lethbridge who are ready to work with somebody in starting a congregation, but they have failed to do so for lack of leadership. With an able preacher of experience being sent to each of these places with sufficient financial backing to provide a suitable place to meet and conduct a weekly radio program the people of the province will soon come to know what the church of Christ is and it will be established in many points. But we insist that the preachers who are sent should be men of experience and able to meet sectarian preachers in discussion on their own ground.

There are a number of very small groups around over western Canada who have learned the truth by some means or other and are constantly calling for help. Enough calls for help come in from different places to keep several preachers busy, but we cannot possibly answer all of them. During the past eighteen months we have visited with congregations throughout western Canada and find need of help in every section. However, the church is better established in all the other western provinces than in Alberta, yet Alberta presents as great a challenge as any province, if not greater. A number of fine Canadian young men have attended the Bible colleges in the south and have prepared themselves well to preach the gospel, but they are remaining there to preach where they can get paid for it. Brethren who are reared in the south remain there to preach where they can baptize more people than they could here, with much greater ease and enjoy better living conditions. Although, there are no doubt a number of fine gospel preachers who would be glad to come here and give their best to the cause of Christ in this great field if the church would send them. And I am confident, too, that if elders with vision from the churches in the south would come and get one good view of the vast unworked field in this section with the opportunities it offers they would return fired with enough zeal to send the men necessary to get the job done. A number of preachers are willing to come into these parts for a meeting and have a nice vacation trip, but for some reason not many are coming to live. The winters are cold and the cost of living is high, it is true, but there are a lot of lost souls here who would be saved if they had the opportunity to hear the truth. The opposition from the sects is also great and the work is much slower than in most other places, but once the people are converted they are loyal. The field is truly ripe unto harvest and the laborers are so very few. Won't you please pray the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth more reapers into the vineyard?