1980s

1980, May 4 Doug Whidden, a student intern minister, was assigned to gain experience with our congregation and worked with us until the end of August.

1980 Due to the rapid growth of our congregation, which now numbered over 300 families, a task force was set up to assess ways in which to better serve this large a congregation. Available school rental space was being stretched to the maximum for such a large Sunday school, which was said to be the largest in Edmonton. This task force concluded from their study that, in spite of these numbers, the congregation was not yet ready to commit itself to building their own church building.

1980, Nov. 16 At a congregational meeting, the task force presented a motion that Mill Woods United Church support the development of a second congregation in south Mill Woods, to begin in September 1981. Motion passed. The north – south division line was determined to be 23rd Avenue, but everyone was given the freedom to choose the worship location they wished. Thus, a random division of members occurred.

1981, Jan 31 Rev. Bill Beach resigned due to health reasons. Two lay people from within the congregation, Pat Bourque and Linda Paddon, were hired on a part-time basis to co-ordinate church activities and arrange for visiting ministers. Rev. Don Mayne from Presbytery has been appointed to oversee our church operations.

1981, July 1 Rev. George Mossman accepted a call to serve as full-time minister at Mill Woods United Church with the prospect of the church becoming a 2-point charge in September. Pat Bourque continued as a part-time lay assistant.

1981, Sept. Mill Woods now had two United Church communities of faith – one serving the south in Sakaw school and another serving the north in Grace Martin school – both served by one minister, Rev. George Mossman. The first service at Sakaw School was held September 13 by Rev. Tom Sawyer, after which Rev. Mossman led their services every third week, with guest ministers filling in. Later on, Sakaw’s Sunday services were at 9:30 a.m. and Grace Martin’s at 11:00 a.m. so that more services could be done by one minister.

1981, Nov. The Grace Martin congregation decided to move to Hillview School, when it became evident that a satisfactory arrangement for more rented space at Grace Martin could not be negotiated.

1982, Feb. Ross Smillie, a ministerial student, joined the staff until June of 1982. Summer services were held in the church house.

1982, Oct. Both congregations chose new names, rather than being named after the school in which they met. Hillview chose the name “First Mill Woods United Church” and Sakaw decided on “Southwoods United Church”. At the end of 1982, First Mill Woods United Church had 132 Sunday school children registered and about 180 families on the church list.

1982, Dec. Edmonton Presbytery approved the Southwoods name.

1983, Oct. Rev. George Mossman resigned to take up an executive position at Bissell Centre. Pat Bourque, who by now had been appointed Staff Associate was joined by Rev. Tom Sawyer, who was appointed by Edmonton Presbytery to serve First Mill Woods until June 30, 1984 on a half-time interim basis.

1983, Dec. 11 A motion passed at a congregational meeting to establish two separate pastoral charges in Mill Woods, each with their own full-time minister. This request was submitted to Edmonton Presbytery for their approval.

1984, Jan. 24 Rev. Shelagh Parsons joined the ministerial staff. Edmonton Presbytery approved our request that there be two separate churches in Mill Woods. As a result of this, two full-time ministers were hired as follows:

1984, July 1 Rev. Tom Sawyer accepted a call to be full-time minister at First Mill Woods United Church and Rev. Dan Newell became the new minister at Southwoods United Church. Southwoods rented office space at the First Mill Woods church house for Rev. Dan Newell, and also shared secretarial services for the next four years.

1984, June The congregation of First Mill Woods made a decision to build a church structure on the six remaining lots adjacent to the church house. But it would be another five years before our financial position would allow us to purchase the land from Edmonton Presbytery. See 1989.

1984 First Mill Woods became a distribution agency for the Edmonton Food Bank.

1985 The Building Committee have begun the early stages of planning and have toured several new church buildings garnering ideas from other church’s experiences. At the end of the year, there was $9,551 in our new church Building Fund achieved from offerings and fund-raising.

1985, Oct. 15 A draft constitution for our congregation was made available for further study to be presented for approval at the next annual congregational meeting.

1985, Nov. The Christian Development committee catalogued and cross-referenced 280 volumes in our new church library in our church house.

1986 This year saw more concentrated efforts to educate the congregation of the urgent need to somehow increase our general revenues in the face of having embarked on a three year phase-out of our reliance on an annual block grant of financial support from Edmonton Presbytery which will end in 1988. This is in addition to the pressure of trying to contribute to the building fund, which now stands at $22,557.

1987, Dec. The remaining church house mortgage balance of $28,994 held by Knox-Metropolitan United Church was paid off out of the building fund, giving us clear title to the property and clearing the way to proceed with our church building plans.

1988, November 8 The Mission Statement had been created and was adopted.

We are partners on a faith journey, called to be the Church, Christ’s voice, hands and heart, to continue His mission in Mill Woods, Edmonton and throughout the world. As a part of the United Church of Canada, we strive to reach out to our community and beyond, growing and changing, but always as doers of the Word, not just hearers. While affirming our faith in Christ, we share global concerns with people of other faiths.

We undertake, with all Christians, the ministry of fostering and caring for all God’s people and creation. The nurturing and Christian education of our children and adults is an important part of our ministry, was it was in Christ’s.

We welcome all people to become part of our family, sharing in warm worship, meaningful fellowship and communion.

1988, Dec First Mill Woods United became the only Food Bank hamper distributor in Mill Woods. One room in our church house was dedicated full time to Food Bank use.

1988 The Building Committee was hard at work researching and planning for a church building on the land adjacent to the church house. After paying off the mortgage on the church house last year, the Building Fund balance is back up to $14,417.

1988 Some interesting statistics – Of the 40 congregations in Edmonton Presbytery, First Mill Woods had the largest number of people involved in various programs sponsored by the congregation and we placed third in the size of our Sunday School with 131 children.

1989, Jan. 1 This is the beginning of our first year as a financially self-supporting congregation. We are no longer on the annual Block Grant Assistance program supported by the Mission & Service Fund of the United Church of Canada.

1989, Apr. 16 The congregation approved the submission of our offer to purchase the six lots, which was later consolidated into one parcel of land to be known as 15 Grand Meadow Crescent, from Edmonton Presbytery for our church building site.

1989, June 27 Edmonton Presbytery accepted our offer to purchase the land for $135,000 with three payment years, interest free. By the end of this year, $25,000 of this debt was paid off.

1989 The Building Committee persistently kept very active, having held 10 committee meetings, 2 congregational meetings, participated in 4 Presbytery level meetings, toured 10 churches, contacted 16 architects, and ran fund-raising projects.