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Kimberley United Church

by Ruth Soderholm

The history of the church in Kimberley begins about 1902 when the Rev. T. C. Colwell served the community on a circuit based in Cranbrook. This was supported by the Methodist Mission and the minister travelled on horseback. Others that followed him were Rev. Harrison, J. Herdman and E. W. Lees.

In 1911, the small Methodist Church that had been built near the schoolhouse, burned down. After that, services were held in the white schoolhouse located where Cominco Offices now stand. Harold Panabaker lived in the teacherage nearby in 1918. Stan Redman was the first ordained resident minister. In 1919, he boarded with Mrs. Wells, who started the first Sunday School in her home across from the School.

In 1921, the Rev. Evan Baker came to build a Methodist Church which was to become the United Church at the time of the proposed union. He held services in Summer's Hall, above the store.

United Church 1978

In 1922, he organized a group from all Protestant denominations to choose a site and build a hall. Mr. E. G. Montgomery and Dr. Hannington each donated $100 towards the cost of the lot, which was $400. Others on the committee were Les Mawson, Archie Seaton, Harry Logan and McLeod White.

A contract was let to Jones & Doris, Cranbrook, for $21.26. The building was to be 26 ft. by 50 ft. The parsonage, $1250, was to be 24 ft. by 28 ft.

The August, 1922 budget included Minister's salary, $350; upkeep of horse, $150; moving expenses, $54; Quarterly Board entries for March, 1923 show $15 for rent of Summer's Hall; wood $14.50; light, $12.90; taxes $12.79. Present at this meeting were Mesdames W. Glanville and F. Caire, Messrs. W. Glanville, Hall, and A. A. Watkins.

The Rev. J. Evans arrived in 1924 and in the following year, 1925, the church became the Kimberley United Church. The period 1925-27 witnessed an increase in membership due to people moving in to work at the Concentrator. The church was enlarged by an addition on the Wallinger Ave. side. Organizations noted are Canadian Girls in Training (Mrs. Lane), Senior Choir, Ladies Aid, Sunday School. The Rev. Evans left to join the Chatauqua circuit. He was followed by interim ministers N. T. Chappell, E. S. Fleming and W. S. A. Crux. The Rev. H. W. Stevenson arrived in 1927 and served for about a year. In 1928 the Rev. R. N. Matheson accepted a call to the church. To accommodate his family, Dr. Tiffin's house in Blarchmont was purchased for $3600. New organizations appearing were Missionary Society, Cradle Roll, Women's Association. A Jr. Choir placed well in the Cranbrook Music Festival. Prominent in Choir and W. A. circles were Mesdames J. Walker, E. Nesbitt, B. Bentley; on the Board of Stewards were Messrs. M. Beduz, L. Crowe, W. McKenzie and C. Bennett.

The Rev. R. E. Cribb served the congregation through the financially difficult years 1931- 1936.

The church was under the guidance of the Rev. S. T. Galbraith from 1936 to 1946. The depression years were followed by the war "boom". A new project for the Women's Association was the purchase of War Savings Stamps and Victory Bonds. In 1943 the cancelled mortgage on the manse was burned by J. Glanville, representing his uncle, deceased, who had arranged the original loan. Now the church facilities were too small, especially for the Sunday School which held classes scattered on the Townsite, Town and in Lower Blarchmont. The building of a new church was proposed.

The Rev. P. Henderson and the Rev. A. M. Angus, supply ministers, preceded the Rev. G. Affleck who came in May, 1947. Many organizations filled the premises to capacity. A kindergarten was established which continued until it was taken into the public school system. The congregation undertook the daring venture of building a new church. This was completed in 1951. The old church was turned into a hall; there were now three halls altogether. The building committee consisted of Messrs. J. Noble, R. McMichael, R. B. MacLeod, P. Holditch, D. C. McKenzie, C. Backstrom, E. Nesbitt, and Mesdames Nesbitt and MacLeod. Activites continued apace during the period of the Rev. R. McPhee, 1952-1961. A new men's group, A.O.T.S. (As One That Serves), provided practical assistance to the church and the community. Rock Lake Camp was set up which has continued to provide summer camping experiences for church and other youth. Ministers who served following Mr. McPhee, were; Ron Smith, 1961-1964; Prescott Burrill, 1964-1970; John Godfrey, 1970-1975; and Don Duff, 1975.

An important part of the church history was played by the women's groups. They came to the aid of the Trustee and Steward Boards in times of crisis. They raised funds for these and their own projects by dues, teas, basket and strawberry, and bazaars. The latter have continued to be money raisers. Names of pioneers in these activities include Mesdames Bentley, Giegerich, Crowe, Lockhart, Thompson, Fortier, Nesbitt, Boardman, from the 1931 roll.

Sunday School activites started at the Sullivan Mine (Top Mine) in 1922 in a school basement. Growth was steady after 1925. By 1938 a staff of 16 was required. Expansion continued through the '40's and '50's. Sessions were held in the Central School, McDougal Hall, Blarchmont School, K. P. Hall and in Marysville, as well as at the Church, and later, Lindsay Park School. In 1959, students numbered 438, staff 36. At the risk of neglecting a host of faithful teachers, the writer names for long-service awards; Mrs. M. Dakin, Mrs. A. Bennett and Mrs. R. Yarwood, and for Mission Band, Mrs. W. Miller.

United Church choir

On a musical note choirs have always been a part of the United Church scene. Junior choirs reached their peak under Miss Gladys Rook in the '60's. In the '30's and '40's, Miss Ruth Soderholm and Mrs. J. Walker were involved. The first Sr. Choir leader was Mrs. J. Evans, first organist was Les Mawson and in later years Mrs. J. Glanville. She was followed by Mrs. Josephine Suart who ably directed the choir and delighted the congregation on the Hammond organ for 30 years, until her retirement in 1976.

At this point it may be of interest to note the names of long-service individuals such as Clerks of Session; H. Nordlund, C. Backstrom, J. Noble; Session members, E. Hughes and B. Bentley; Sunday School Secretary, J. Glanville.

Church members of 1928 still attending in 1979 are Mr. and Mrs. M. Beduz, Mr. and Mrs. C. Backstrom, Mrs. F. Caire, Miss R. Soderholm, Mrs. C. McCrea; in hospital are Ernie Nesbitt and Jack Walker. Property changes include the purchase of a new manse in Chapman Camp in 1962, and the "Bavarianization" of the exterior of the church in 1977.

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