Morrin United Church holds final service

Larry Dodd, chairperson the Morrin United Church, says a few words during the introduction of the final service on Sun. May 26. ECA Review/T.Huxley

With a final service now said and done, the Morrin United Church has ceased operations and is amalgamating with the Drumheller United Church.

The hard decision to close the doors on the historic building was made by the church’s board as they could no longer financially keep it running with dwindling numbers of parishioners.

Back in the 70s, 105 families were recorded as affiliated with the church.

That number has since been reduced to seven.

“There are no longer enough funds coming in to keep the doors open,” said Larry Dodd, chairperson of the Morrin United Church.

“There used to be lots of church suppers. We used to fundraise for the [Stettler] steam train. There was lots of events we used for fundraising but times have just went by the wayside, you know, people just aren’t turning out for church anymore,” he said.

Barbara Lieurance addresses the crowd at the final Morrin United Church service on Sun. May 26. All the pews were full with local worshippers to take part in the final services which included food and beverage after worship. This church’s members will now be amalgamating with the Drumheller United Church. ECA Review/T.Huxley

Church history

Compiled by Marilyn Trentham

Established in 1911, the original Union church building, which was later turned 180 degrees to become the church hall, has a deep history in the area and its locals.

The Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and Anglican volunteers joined together to build this church.

In 1925, the United Church of Canada came to be, as the Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterians joined together officially.

Morrin and Munson made up the Morrin Pastoral Charge at that time.

In 1953, the old church was turned sideways on the lot to become the church hall.

Two years later, the Morrin Pastoral charge was joined by Rowley, Rumsey and Big Valley churches, however, Big Valley made other arrangements shortly after.

A manse was built as Morrin was the central location.

In the 1970’s and for many years, a highlight of the church year was the annual outdoor service and picnic at the Morrin Bridge Campground.

Ball games and races after a picnic lunch and church service would be enjoyed by 90 people or more.

In 1972, the Sunday School had an enrollment of 30 or more children.

This year, the Morrin United Church sponsored Boy Scouts and Cubs.

On the executive of Canadian Girls in Training (CGIT) were Debbie Riggs, Merridy Waters and Marty Rowell.

Highlights included the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, Christmas Vesper Service and the Mother-Daughter Banquet.

The Junior Choir was directed by Laura Waters and Allan Burnett was organist.

In 1975, the church celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the United Church of Canada.

Reverend Herb Blezard was the minister and CGIT celebrated 60 Years with Barbara Schow being the only graduate.

The Explorers were led by Violet Deeprose and Eleanor Bremer.

After several years as choir director, Laura Waters resigned and Muriel Blezard took over.

In 1978, Reverend Mary Ellen Moore and her daughter Heather moved from Ontario to the Morrin Pastoral Charge, a three-point charge which included Morrin, Rumsey and Munson.

Explorer leaders were Betty Shadlock and Shirley Riggs.

In 1981, Reverend Frank Cummins, his wife Jean and children, Brendan, Ben and Tammy replaced Mary Ellen.

Brown Bag Sundays began where the congregation donated items for the food bank.

The original Morrin United Church, seen in the back on the right, was built in 1911 and was used as the church hall when the new addition, seen in front, was built in 1953. The final
service took place on Sun. May 26. ECA Review/T.Huxley

In 1985, Reverend Jan Coffey came to serve in Morrin and Donald Pontifex was the board treasurer.

The Lutheran ladies and the afternoon UCW operated a concession for the Homecoming.

Proceeds from the evening UCW’s Annual Tea and Bazaar paid for a new organ for the church. Some repairs and painting was done at Bar Harbour Camp.

A Messenger Group was started by Sandra Grenville and Cindy Dodd. Sunday School superintendent was Terri Lynn Dodd.

This was a big year as the old Gestetner was retired and a photocopier was purchased.

In 1990, over 100 people attended the Combined Lutheran/United/Legion/Ladies Auxiliary Remembrance Day Service.

From 1993 until early 1997 Reverend Orilla Bogart became our three quarter time minister.

Her husband Garth was also a minister in Big Valley and they had a son, Steven.

During this time period, the Rumsey Church closed its doors.

Ernie Goddard helped with the dispersal of the assets of Rumsey Church.

Don Schielke was Chairperson of the Board.

Eleven children were in Sunday School and we combined with the Lutherans for our annual Christmas Concert.

United Church Women (UCW) hosted Vacation Bible School for the first time and Becky Neuman directed the closing program.

UCW also catered supper for the steam train passengers at the Morrin Hall.

Sunday School combined with the Lutherans had over 30 children.

At Christmas, they performed “No Room at the Inn” a musical directed by Becky Neuman.

1995 was another Homecoming year. Orilla Bogart was still our minister but time was cut to half time.

The church manse was sold and an auction was held at Munson to sell contents of both Rumsey and Munson churches.

Munson church closing service was held on April 30, 1995.

This was the end of Morrin Pastoral charge with just Morrin Church left to carry on.

After Orilla Bogart left in 1997, Dave Kinneburgh and Tom Sawyer served. Financial loss for this year was $6,197.

In 1999, the board’s financial statements predicted they would have to close within four years but thanks to many adjustments and pulpit supply ministers, they managed to make that 20 years.

Reverend Travis Cannaday and daughter Jessica became weekend supply while Ernie Goddard became chairman of the Board.

The UCW, which had begun in 1911, celebrated 90 years.

Over that time period, 124 members were recorded.

The Sunday School folded in 2005 as there were no children left to provide the service to.

Reverend Mervyn Penfound began services in October 2006 on the first and third Sundays.

Second and fourth Sundays were lead by Harold and Amy Hunter.

Howard Helton took care of snow removal in the winter.

During this time, Shirley Bremer was the organist during Mervyn’s services.

As the church congregation became smaller, pulpit supply became two Sundays per month.

Reverend Mervyn Penfound preached on the first Sundays and Gerry Beskowine on the third Sundays.

This was carried on for 13 years.

The UCW disbanded in 2016 with only three members left.

In 2017, Ernie Goddard stepped down as chairperson of the board after 16 years and Larry Dodd became our new chairperson.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

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