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West Portal Mennonite Brethren Church – Saskatoon, SK

Proper Title

West Portal Mennonite Brethren Church fonds

Dates of Creation

1954–2019

Physical Description

1.78 m of textual records, 1 photograph, and 2 reels of microfilm

Administrative History

The West Portal Mennonite Brethren Church, located in Saskatoon, is a member of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. This church began as a city mission Sunday school work. In 1950, Helen Giesbrecht held six classes for children in homes in various parts of the city. By 1952, the number of classes per month ranged from 9 to 16 with total average attendance from 133 to 215. (See Yearbook of the Saskatchewan Conference of MB Churches, 1952, pp. 9–10). Abe Sawatsky, city missionary, reported that although Sunday schools for children were flourishing, work with adults was difficult.

In 1952, the provincial conference purchased two lots to build a mission hall at the corner of 20th Street and Avenue W. Building progressed slowly in 1953 and 1954. Meanwhile, services were conducted in the Pleasant Hill school with Wes Willems as Sunday school superintendent and Allan Baerg as treasurer. From 1954 to 1956, meetings were held in the basement of the new hall since the building had not been completed. During this phase, the group was called the City Mission.

In 1957, the City Mission organized as an MB church with 22 charter members and in June of that year the building was completed and dedicated. In 1962, the name was changed to the West Portal MB Church. In 1983, a new church was built on 33rd Street. The image above was taken in 1985.

Church leaders have been: Abe Sawatsky (1950–1956), Lawrence Redekopp (1956–1963), Mark Gripp (1964), Wally Gripp (1964–1967), Nick Willems (1967–1972), Abe Klassen (1972–1989), Dwayne Barkman (1990–2008), Kelly Wiebe (2009-2016), Andrew Klassen (2016– ).

Scope and Content

This fonds contains materials documenting the history and operations of the congregation. It consists of the following series: Membership and family records, minutes of congregational meetings and textual records.

Custodial History

Many of the records were microfilmed in 1978 through the work of the Historical Commission of the Mennonite Brethren Conference. Some textual records had been collected at Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies before 1996 with the exception of the historical notes in file 1 which came from the Bethany Bible School Archives. In the summer of 2009 the church donated a large amount of records to the archives.

Notes

  • Volumes 627–628, 1277-1279, 1340.
  • Accession number: 2009-37.
  • Finding aid consists of a series description and a file list. Records acquired prior to 2009 are classified under the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches inventory BF527.
  • Finding aid for microfilm: R7, pp. 2112–2462; R8, pp. 1–897.
  • Microfilm finding aid updated from previous finding aid by Leslie Wiebe July 2003.
  • Textual records finding aid updated by Theodore Dyck; updated by Yvonne Snider-Nighswander November 1, 2011. Updated by Kate Woltmann July 18, 2013. Updated by Emma Sorensen May 30, 2018.
  • Some restrictions on access may apply.

Series Descriptions

I. Historical materials.
1976–2007.
28 cm of textual records, 1 photograph.

  • Location: volume 627, flds. 1-8; volume 1277, fldrs. 17-34.
  • This series includes historical notes, church newsletters and other public correspondence, as well as various statistical and attendance records and church constitutions.
  • File 1 came to Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies from Bethany Bible School in 1996. Most others came in 2009.

II. Bulletins and directories.
1988-2019.
40 cm of textual records.

  • Location: volume 627, flds. 9-21; volume 628, flds. 1-6; volume 1277, flds. 1-16; volume 1340, flds. 1-13.
  • This series contains church bulletins outlining weekly services and midweek activities and church telephone directories.

III. Church governance, ministerial and administrative minutes, reports and correspondence.
1953-2001.
39 cm of textual records.

  • Location: volume 1277, flds. 35-37; volume 1278, flds. 1-24; reel 7, pp. 2112-2462; reel 8, pp. 1-897.
  • This series contains records of church committees that were responsible for the governance, administration and spiritual care of the congregation as a whole, rather than being responsible for particular ministries of the church. Minutes and reports of congregational meetings from 1953 to 2001 are extant.
  • The church board (1957-1979) and its successor, the church council (1980-1989), was the primary governance body of the church. Following a comprehensive restructuring of church boards and committees in 1990, the church council was succeeded by the Guiding Council (1990-1992) and the Leadership Team (1993-2001), and some vision-setting responsibilities were transferred to the Council of Boards.
  • The Executive Team (1993-1995) and Administrative Team (1998-2001) held managerial and administrative decision-making responsibilities.
  • The Council of Boards (1987-1992) was initially a venue for coordinating various church ministries, but following the church restructuring for 1990 it assumed responsibility for setting vision and direction for the church.
  • The Board of Ministers and Deacons (1963-1973) and later Board of Deacons (1980-1990) was concerned with spiritual and pastoral care, as well as some administrative duties.
  • The Pastoral Board was initially concerned with managing church membership and some church programming.
  • Following the restructuring of church structures for 1990, it took on responsibility for spiritual and pastoral care from the Board of Deacons and set aside many of its programming duties (1972-1989).
  • The series also contains microfilmed records of congregational meeting minutes (1954-1977) and two books of membership records (1978).

IV. Church ministries minutes and reports.
1954-2001.
40 cm of textual records.

  • Location: volume 1278, flds. 25; volume 1279, flds. 1-34.
  • This series contains records of church bodies tasked with running specific programs or ministering to specific groups within the congregation.
  • Some groups were responsible for age-specific programs.
  • In the church’s early years, the Sunday School Committee and Teachers ran the church’s Sunday school program (1954-1966).
  • Later, the Board of Christian Education was responsible for children’s programs, the library, church publications, and Christian education for adults (1981-1995).
  • The Christian Service Brigade was a mid-week club for boys. Minutes from 1966 to 1972, as well as 1985, are extant.
  • Further material pertaining to this group can be found in the records of the Board of Christian Education. The College and Career Executive was responsible for the young adults group (1984-1989).
  • The Senior Care Committee planned activities and visitation for seniors (1992-1995).
  • The Youth Fellowship ran midweek services for young people. Records of its gatherings (1954-1963) and of meetings of it organizing body, the Youth Fellowship Executive (1962-1972), are extant. The Board of Youth Ministry was responsible for the church’s programs for high school age people and young adults (1984-1995).
  • Some groups were responsible for the upkeep of church facilities and communications. The Expansion Committee was tasked with obtaining a new church building, eventually constructed on 33rd street ([1978?]-1984). The Forward Planning Committee was responsible for various building upgrades and maintenance (1987-1988). The Library and Publicity Committee operated the church library and produced materials such as posters and calendars for the church (1981-1989).
  • The Board of Management, which later became the Management Committee and then the Management Team, was responsible for building maintenance and scheduling, as well as handling church finances (1980-2000). The Publications Committee was responsible for church newsletters, photography, bulletin boards, mailboxes and other such communication media (1986-[1987?]). Some correspondence and inventory lists regarding sports and the church gymnasium are extant ([1986]).
  • Several church bodies were responsible for providing interpersonal services or managing human resources. The Board of Evangelism was responsible for outreach programs in the Saskatoon area (1983-1989). It became the Board of Outreach as part of church restructuring for 1990 (1990-1992), after which its responsibilities were passed on to the Missions Committee.
  • The Fellowship Group Leaders were in charge of the church’s midweek small groups (1987-1989). The Ladies Mission Circle corresponded with and financially supported overseas missionaries (1955-1968). It was succeeded by the Ladies Fellowship, which focused on caring for the diverse needs of its members (1969-1995). In its later years, the Ladies Fellowship Executive was formed to run the ministry (1989-1995).
  • The Board of Missions, later the Missions Committee and Missions Team, was initially tasked with supporting and promoting international missionaries and mission work, sometimes in conjunction with the national conference. The Missions Committee eventually took on the responsibility for local outreach and mission work from the Board of Outreach (1987-2000).
  • The Board of Music was responsible for music in the church (1982-1989). Its responsibilities were transferred to the newly created Worship Board in 1990, which was tasked with planning entire worship services and special events (1990-1992). It was later renamed the Worship Team (1992-2001).
  • The Board of Nominations was responsible for finding qualified laypeople to fill positions in church ministries, boards and committees (1984-1989). The Pulpit Committee was tasked with finding a senior pastor for the church (1963-1964). The Search Team fulfilled this function in later years (1985, 1996). The Services Board coordinated welcoming and ushers, as well as church gift-giving (1980-1996).

V. Financial records.
1956-2000.
4 cm of textual records.

  • Location: volume 1279, flds. 35-36.
  • This series contains church budgets and financial reports that show many of the priorities of the congregation.

File List

Volume 627

1. Historical notes. -- 1976?
2. Historical account of the 25th anniversary celebrations. -- 1976.
3. Historical sketch. -- 1980?
4. Historical sketch, 1950-1976. -- 1984.
5. History and 1 photograph. -- 1985.
6. Historical outline. -- 2009.
7. Addresses of past and present members. -- [1982].
8. Directories. -- 1988-1989, 1992-1993, 1996, 2000, 2004-2005.
9. Church bulletins. – 1962, 1972.
10. Church bulletins. -- 1973.
11. Church bulletins. -- 1974.
12. Church bulletins. -- 1975.
13. Church bulletins. -- 1976.
14. Church bulletins. -- 1977.
15. Church bulletins. -- 1979.
16. Church bulletins. -- 1980.
17. Church bulletins. -- 1981.
18. Church bulletins. -- 1982.
19. Church bulletins. -- 1983.
20. Church bulletins. -- 1984.
21. Church bulletins. -- 1985.

Volume 628

1. Church bulletins. -- 1986.
2. Church bulletins. -- 1987.
3. Church bulletins. -- 1988.
4. Church bulletins. -- 1989.
5. Church bulletins. -- 1990.
6. Church bulletins. -- 1991.

Volume 1277

1. Church bulletins. -- 1993.
2. Church bulletins. -- 1994.
3. Church bulletins. -- 1995.
4. Church bulletins. -- 1996.
5. Church bulletins. -- 1997.
6. Church bulletins. -- 1998.
7. Church bulletins. -- 1999.
8. Church bulletins. -- 2000.
9. Church bulletins. -- 2001.
10. Church bulletins. -- 2002.
11. Church bulletins. -- 2003.
12. Church bulletins. -- 2004.
13. Church bulletins. -- 2005.
14. Church bulletins. -- 2006.
15. Church bulletins. -- 2007.
16. Special bulletins. -- 1976-2007.
17. Tabloid: “Family News.” -- 1983-1986.
18. Alumni newsletters. -- 1979-1985.
19. Christmas cards. -- ca. 1990-1994.
20. Church calendars. -- 1983-1984.
21. Attendance graphs. -- 1976-1999.
22. Statistical graphs. -- 1988.
23. Correspondence, notes and presentations from the 25th anniversary. -- 1976.
24. Expansion Banquet. -- 1980.
25. Expansion Banquet. -- 1981.
26. Expansion Banquet. -- 1983.
27. Expansion Banquet. -- 1984.
28. Stewardship Banquets. -- 1985-1986.
29. Attendance of the first service in the new building. -- 1983.
30. Correspondence and attendance of the Dedication Service. -- 1984.
31. Correspondence and bulletin regarding the mortgage burning. -- 1995.
32. Newspaper clippings and floor plan of the new building. -- 1983-1984.
33. Church promotional materials. -- [ca. 1960-199-?].
34. Promotional materials for special events. -- 1983-1995.
35. Constitutions. -- 1963-1979.
36. Minutes and reports to congregational meetings. -- 1953-1959.
37. Minutes and reports to congregational meetings. -- 1960-1965.

Volume 1278

1. Minutes and reports to congregational meetings. -- 1966-1973.
2. Minutes and reports to congregational meetings. -- 1974-1978.
3. Minutes and reports to congregational meetings. -- 1979-1980.
4. Minutes and reports to congregational meetings. -- 1981-1982.
5. Minutes and reports to congregational meetings. -- 1983-1984.
6. Minutes and reports to congregational meetings. -- 1985-1987.
7. Minutes and reports to congregational meetings. -- 1988-1991.
8. Minutes and reports to congregational meetings. -- 1992-1995.
9. Minutes of congregational meetings. -- 1996-2001.
10. Minutes of the Church Board. -- 1957-1969.
11. Minutes of the Church Board. -- 1970-1979.
12. Minutes of the Church Council. -- 1980-1986.
13. Minutes of the Church Council. -- 1987-1989.
14. Minutes of the Guiding Council. -- 1990-1992.
15. Minutes of the Leadership Team. -- 1993-2001.
16. Minutes of the Administrative Team. -- 1998-2001.
17. Minutes of the Council of Boards. -- 1987-1992.
18. Minutes of the Board of Deacons. -- 1980-1990.
19. Minutes of the Executive Team. -- 1993-1995.
20. Minutes of the Ministers and Deacons. -- 1963-1973.
21. Minutes and correspondence of the Pastoral Board. -- 1972-1981.
22. Minutes and correspondence of the Pastoral Board. -- 1982-1985.
23. Minutes and correspondence of the Pastoral Board. -- 1986-1989.
24. Minutes of the Pastoral Board. -- 1990-2001.
25. Minutes, correspondence and reports of the Board of Christian Education. -- 1981-1995.

Volume 1279

1. Minutes and reports of the Christian Service Brigade. -- 1966-1972, 1985.
2. Minutes of the College and Career Executive. -- 1984-1989.
3. Minutes of the Board of Evangelism. -- 1983-1989.
4. Minutes and correspondence of the Expansion Committee. -- [1978?]-1984.
5. Minutes of the Fellowship Group Leaders. -- 1987-1989.
6. Minutes and correspondence of the Forward Planning Committee. -- 1987-1988.
7. Minutes of the Ladies Fellowship. -- 1969-1986.
8. Minutes of the Ladies Fellowship Executive. -- 1989-1995.
9. Agendas of the Ladies Fellowship. -- 1985-1987, 1993-1995.
10. Correspondence of the Ladies Fellowship. -- 1990-1995.
11. Survey results of the Ladies Fellowship. -- 1992-1994.
12. Event checklists of the Ladies Fellowship. -- [199-?].
13. Executive handbooks of the Ladies Fellowship. -- [1990?-1995].
14. Lists of Prayer Sisters of the Ladies Fellowship. -- 1992-1994.
15. Reports of the Ladies Fellowship. -- 1991-1994.
16. Minutes of the Ladies Mission Circle. -- 1955-1969.
17. Minutes of the Library and Publicity Committee. -- 1981-1989.
18. Minutes and correspondence of the Board of Management/Management Committee. -- 1980-2000.
19. Minutes of the Missions Committee. -- 1987-2000.
20. Minutes and correspondence of the Board of Music. -- 1982-1989.
21. Minutes and reports of the Board of Nominations. -- 1984-1989.
22. Minutes of the Board of Outreach. -- 1990-1992.
23. Minutes of the Publications Committee. -- 1986-[1987?].
24. Minutes and correspondence of the Pulpit Committee. -- 1963-1964.
25. Minutes of the Search Team. -- 1985, 1996.
26. Minutes of the Senior Care Committee. -- 1992-1995.
27. Minutes of the Services Board. -- 1980-1996.
28. Minutes of the Sunday School Committee and Teachers. -- 1954-1966.
29. Minutes of the Worship Board. -- 1990-1992.
30. Minutes of the Worship Team. -- 1992-2001.
31. Programs and directories of the Youth Fellowship. -- 1954-1963.
32. Minutes of the Youth Fellowship Executive. -- 1962-1972.
33. Minutes and correspondence of the Board of Youth Ministry. -- 1984-1995.
34. Correspondence and inventory regarding sports and the gymnasium. -- [1986].
35. Financial records. -- 1956-1968.
36. Financial reports and correspondence. -- 1969-2000.
37. Care Group Leaders Manual. -- 2001.
38. Finding My Place in Ministry: Equipping Those who are Seeking to Serve. -- [1990].

Volume 1340

1. Church Directories. – 2008.
2. Church bulletins. – 2008.
3. Church bulletins. – 2009.
4. Church bulletins. – 2010.
5. Church bulletins. -- 2011.
6. Church bulletins. -- 2012.
7. Church bulletins. -- 2013.
8. Church bulletins. -- 2014.
9. Church bulletins. -- 2015.
10. Church bulletins. -- 2016.
11. Church bulletins, baptisms, new members. -- 2017
12. Church bulletins. -- 2018.
13. Church bulletins. -- 2019.

Microfilm file list

Reel 7

  • Membership and Family Records (Book Ia). – ca.1960–1977. – p.2112–2211.
  • Membership and Family Records (Book Ib). – ca.1957–1977. – p.2212–2273.
  • Board of Congregational Meeting Minutes (Book II). – 1954–1962. – p.2274–2462.

Reel 8

  • Board of Congregational Meeting Minutes (Book III). – 1962–1964. – p.1–249.
  • Board of Congregational Meeting Minutes (Book IV). – 1965–1968. – p.250–402.
  • Board of Congregational Meeting Minutes (Book V). – 1969–1972. – p.404–598.
  • Board of Congregational Meeting Minutes (Book VI). – 1973–1976. – p.599–814.
  • Board of Congregational Meeting Minutes (Book VII). – 1977–[197-]. – p.815–897.
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