1990s

1990 The Building Committee continued to work diligently at collecting church design data, developing congregational awareness, establishing a fund base and selecting an architect. The excitement of the congregation had become very evident as our plans continued to progress towards actually realizing our building dreams. Another $30,000 was paid on the land mortgage, leaving a balance of $80,000.

1991, Jan. Ground work was initiated with Edmonton Presbytery and Alberta & N.W. Conference leaders to confirm our intention to apply for a Ventures in Mission loan from the United Church of Canada for our church building needed in 1992.

1991, Feb. 3 The congregation approved the selection of the architectural firm of Woolfenden, Hamilton, Brown Architectural Group Ltd., to design a church building and to supervise its construction.

1991, Apr. 14 Preliminary Drawings and a scale model were presented to the congregation for the purpose of eliciting further input from individual members. The congregation accepted these preliminaries including the estimated cost of $735,000 as the basis for our Capital Fund Drive that was conducted from April to October, and reached a total of $190,584 in pledges and donations. The drawings also needed to be sent to the Architectural Advisory Resources Group of the Division of Missions in Canada of the United Church of Canada’s national office for their approval.

1991, Dec. 1 The congregation approved that we proceed to a July, 1992 construction start and approved a motion by the building committee to apply for a Ventures in Mission fund loan of $600,000 from the United Church’s Division of Missions in Canada.

1991, Dec. 31 Another annual payment of $40,000 was made out of the building fund on the land mortgage, leaving a balance of $40,000.

1992, Jan. Edmonton Presbytery approved a loan of $110,000 interest-free from the Church Development Council until our church house was sold. The congregation determined that the church house would no longer be needed after the church building was in use, thereby providing much-needed funds for the church building.

1992, Apr. The Financial Support Group at the United Church of Canada’s national officeapproved our application for our Ventures in Mission loan of $600,000 amortized over 20 years at 5% interest, with the first year interest-free. Monthly repayments were to begin July 1, 1993. (This repayment schedule was completely revised under a new plan effective July 1, 1996.)

1992, May 3 Final design development was completed and presented by the architects to the congregation for approval.

1992, May 23 Official sod turning ceremonies took place on the building site with guests from Alberta Conference, Edmonton Presbytery, Knox-Metropolitan United Church, former Ministers, Church Development Council, our project Architect, and a group of our church members. Board Chair Randy Round, Trustee Donna Skoreiko, Building Committee Chair Linda Paddon, and Youth Representative Kirsten Kitagawa turned sod.

1992, June Final payment of $40,000 made to Edmonton Presbytery to clear the land mortgage loan.

1992, Aug. 7 Of the six general contractors invited to bid on our construction project, on the recommendation of the architect, Delnor Construction Ltd. was notified that they were awarded the building contract with their final bid of $722,308.

1992, Aug. 11 At 7:40 a.m. sharp, construction of our church building finally began!

1992, Dec 24 Permission was obtained from Delnor Construction to hold our Christmas Eve service in the unfinished shell of the building before any furnaces were installed. About 220 very excited and very cold people attended the service.

1992, The Building Committee held 20 meetings, 9 bi-weekly construction site meetings, and made countless numbers of phone calls. This pace also carried on through all of 1993, as a lot of work was yet to be done after the main construction was completed.

1993, Feb. 5 The church steeple, having been built on the ground, was lifted to the top of the roof using a huge crane. This part of construction attracted much community attention and because the press was notified, pictures appeared in the Edmonton Journal and the Globe and Mail.

1993, Mar. In addition to our Ventures in Mission first mortgage, a long-term loan of $100,000 was negotiated with Church Development Council of Edmonton Presbytery with a 20-year amortization at 5% interest, but only $78,000 was drawn to meet our needs. (The repayment schedule was revised under a new plan effective July 1, 1996.)

1993, Apr. 5 The building passed substantial completion inspection. During the next two weeks, volunteers installed the sound system, and moved furnishings and things from the church house to the church.

1993, Apr. 18 The congregation held part of their service in Hillview School, then went to the new church building for the final part of the service to commemorate the move.

1993, May 2 The church was officially dedicated in a worship service led by the Right Rev. Dr. Stan McKay, the Moderator of the United Church of Canada.

1993, June/Oct Our own volunteers worked on finishing and painting the church basement, installed kitchen fixtures including wiring, landscaping including planting trees and laying sod, installed lawn sprinklers, built a wooden storage shed, built an altar, baptismal font and communion table, along with many other projects.

1993, July 20 Final inspection by the Architect.

1993, August Fourteen years after it was built, the church house (along with a lot of emotional congregational tears) were sold for $98,000 to a Filipino church group who wanted to use it for the same purpose as we had used it. We deemed it to be surplus property and no longer needed for our church operations.

1993, Sept. Sunday School registrations are now back up to 230 children, approaching our all-time high water mark, when our services were held in two schools in 1981. This year saw 52 adults joining our church membership by profession of faith and transfers. There were about 184 active families on our church list.

1993: The Building Committee met 22 times and held 5 construction site meetings. They turned over operation of the building to the Property Committee, had a well-deserved party and disbanded. Members of the Building Committee were commended for a big job well done. More than 100 members of the congregation joined various work groups to complete the volunteer work required to bring the building to a more usable state.

1994 Our church library was set up in the loft area. The books have been shelved and catalogued for signing out by anyone interested, including our youth, for reading or research.

1994, Sept. Wim Kreeft, a student intern minister, joined the staff of First Mill Woods to gain practical experience. His term ended June 30, 1995.

1994 With our new building in place, the congregation needed to cope with many major adjustments in the way we ran our church business. New rules and policies had to be developed, worship service format changes, and we had to face many new challenges, even financial ones. Some conflicts had to be resolved. There were also new opportunities to serve the community better, as we gained a greater visual presence and more confidence to become better leaders in the community.

1995, May Southwoods United Church Board passes a motion requesting that First Mill Woods Church be a part of discussions with them to see what the future holds for both congregations in Mill Woods. In September, representatives from Southwoods United Church, First Mill Woods United Church, Edmonton Presbytery staff, and the Presbytery Planning & Development Committee formed a Joint Visioning Committee, for the purpose of exploring ways in which the two congregations can work together as a partnership in Mill Woods.

1995, June 30 Rev. Tom Sawyer’s resignation became effective after submitting his resignation earlier this spring, on March 26. Wim Kreeft’s term as intern student ended.

1995, July 1 With too little time left to call a permanent replacement for Tom, the congregation decided to accept Edmonton Presbytery’s offer to appoint Rev. Norm Macdonald as interim minister for a one-year period.

1996, Jan. 7 The congregation decided to recommend to Edmonton Presbytery that Rev. Norm Macdonald be kept on as interim minister for a second year ending June 30, 1997.

1996 Under the guidance of our new minister, the church constitution was suspended to enable the congregation to pursue a new “vision”. A new “Visioning Board” was established to study topics such as Growth, Spiritual Identity, Congregational Makeup, and Stewardship Resources, during the first four months of the year. Some subtle changes took shape, but no extreme or drastic changes were deemed necessary. Work needed to be done on the Constitution and more time was allotted to this task. More emphasis was placed on the need to make our church more meaningful to the youth of our congregation.

1996, June During our stewardship visioning process, a finance sub-committee determined that the seven-year phase-in of our upwardly spiraling mortgage payments, which had been re-negotiated in October, 1993, was still happening faster than increasing revenues. As a result of this, a $10,000 operating loan from Presbytery Planning and Development Committee was negotiated amortized over 3 years.

1996, July 1 Miraculously and unsolicited by us, the Division of Missions in Canada of the United Church, who was administering all Ventures in Mission capital loans to all united churches, had begun work on developing some new repayment options on these loans. By the end of 1996, retroactive to July 1, 1996, they accepted our application for an option that included changing from a principal and interest model to an interest-free loan with payments geared to 10% of our gross revenue from all sources and for all purposes, except Mission & Service Fund offerings, with no amortization term. A pro-rated portion of this payment also goes to Edmonton Presbytery towards our long-term loan under the same arrangement. Implementation of this plan greatly reduced our financial burden to a tolerable level.

1996, Oct. 6 The Joint Visioning Committee had worked continuously for over a year considering Southwoods-First Mill Woods relationship. It now became evident that an agreement could not be reached at this time, so further negotiations were suspended.

1996, Oct. 27 The congregation recommended to Edmonton Presbytery that Rev. Norm Macdonald’s contract as Interim Minister be extended to June 30, 1998, when he plans to retire from active full-time ministry.

1997, Jan. Our Clothing Bank was established in the east loft room which provides donated clothing of all kinds, free to needy families in the community. It is open to coincide with the Food Bank hours two evenings per week.

1997, Feb. 2 The congregation agreed to suspend the Constitution for an additional year to January 31, 1998, so that proposed changes in the Board Composition & Design of 1997 can be incorporated.

1997, Oct. 1 As the result of a motion passed by the Official Board on May 13, Deanna Cox was hired by the church to become our Youth Worker until May 31, 1998, with the contract renewable on yearly basis. Under the youth ministry program of Edmonton Presbytery, youth worker salary subsidies were made available over a 3-year period, on an annually reducing scale. Her job is to spend a minimum of 12 hours per week working with our church youth, and coordinating church youth activities, education and programs.

1997 This year in general saw the re-energizing of many committees with some implementation of new ideas and re-vamping of areas of responsibility coming from the “Visioning” Board. A spirit of optimism and caring is evident among the church membership, but the process of re-establishing committee work has been a struggle after work habits were slowed down during the recent period of re-examination of our operations. Capital expenditures included a new, lighted sign on the front lawn and 150 new Voices United hymnbooks.

1998, June 30 Rev. Norm Macdonald’s term as interim minister expired, which coincided with his retirement from full-time ministry.

1998, July 1 Rev. Deborah Hoekstra accepted our call to be full-time minister at First Mill Woods.

1998, Sept. 1 Deanna Cox, Youth Worker, was hired for another term ending May 31, 1999.

1999, Mar. 21 The congregation of First Mill Woods United Church passed a motion, upon recommendation of the ad hoc Merger Committee, that we are pleased to have the congregation of Southwoods United Church merge with us. The Southwoods congregation would officially end June 30, 1999.

1999, May 30 Congregation approved the recommendation of an ad hoc committee of four people established in February to study and report back to the congregation if and how the “church year” should be changed from the present calendar year format to a more practical time frame. The new system approved was as follows: a) Fiscal year remains as the calendar year, with budget approval in early February. b) Stewardship year to be ongoing with major focus extending for a 4 week period beginning 7 weeks before Easter. c) Board position elections in early May to start June 1. d) Program year runs from September to June.

1999, June 13 A special merger service was held to commemorate the merger of Southwoods and First Mill Woods.

1999, June The latter half of this year and the first half of 2000 was a very stressful and disruptive time for our Minister, Ministry & Personnel Committee, Official Board and most members of the Congregation who all had to struggle with extraordinary conflict regarding personal feelings within the congregation. Various staff members from Edmonton Presbytery and Alberta & N.W. Conference were engaged to help guide us through this difficult period.

1999, Sept. 1 Youth Worker Deanna Cox’s employment was extended for another term to May 31, 2000.

1999, Dec. 31 Rev. Deborah Hoekstra’s resignation became effective as minister of First Mill Woods United Church, having made the request for a change in pastoral relations on November 28, 1999.