THE ALLIANCE TABERNACLE - 4TH AVENUE LOCATION, Sept. 17, 1944 - April 2, 1956

Mrs. Bertha Gordon, a founding member of the church, recalls that "Mr. Friesen, who had a transport business, had been offered a garage at the foot of the Broadway Bridge for housing his trucks. It occurred to him that this building might be the answer to our prayers, because we could renovate and use it as a church. He presented this idea to the church board. After much planning and prayer, they made a decision to purchase and renovate the garage. All the work was done voluntarily by the men of the church with Pastor Herb Heppner donning overalls and working along with the rest. Each member of the board worked with a will and much enthusiasm." This would be the first Alliance church-owned building in Saskatoon.

They scheduled the dedication of the Alliance Tabernacle for September 17, 1944. It would coincide with the Annual Prayer Conference of the Western Canadian District of the C&MA. This allowed about four months to replace the garage grease with church cleanliness, "We were just going frantic, trying to finish everything up in time," Irene Broughton remembers. "The last thing my parents did before the first meeting was to dig up big geraniums out of the backyard, and put them in big tubs across the front of the platform. That was the finishing touch we needed to be ready for the opening."

The Alliance Tabernacle's weekly calendar brimmed with activity. Each Sunday at 10:00 a.m., children dashed downstairs into dark, dingy rooms where eager women taught them the truths of God's Word. These ladies knew that the first impressions would be lasting, and they did all they could to make the classes enjoyable. Each teacher was responsible to choose each lesson and to make all needed teaching aids. When the Sunday School Superintendent invited his workers to attend workshops or seminars on teaching methods, the results were so positive. Creative teaching without any visual aids is hard work. The teachers highly respected all ideas received from qualified sources, and their earned certificates for attendance were greatly prized.

The 11 o'clock Morning Worship was the time for quiet attention to the Pastor as he led the congregation in worship. They had worked shoulder to shoulder for many long hours to see this building become a House of God and now they worshipped together. The monthly Communion Service was time to seriously check your relationship with God, and then reverently accept the communion elements.

By 1950, the church had grown so much that added facilities were necessary. The basement chapel seating 75 and balcony seating 100 were completed. The membership had increased to 113 with 90 active members and 23 associate, including the 24 added during the year. The average Sunday School attendance was now 134, an increase from the 109 recorded the previous year.

Also - See Sunday School lessons for 4 and 5 Year old children (1950s)

Once the balcony was completed, it became an area of prayer during the week. The one-inch cracks between the boards made kneeling, the customary position at prayer meetings, uncomfortable. The Ladies Group made kneeling pillows to cushion the situation.

They recognized the Mid-Week Prayer meetings as the powerhouse of the church. The pastor wrote, "It is my conviction . . . that every officer of the church, and every teacher and member ought to make the Prayer Meeting each week a 'Must.' Surely, when this happens, revival will come to our church." The basement chapel, which seated 75, was used for the Mid-Week Prayer meeting. By 1952, praying people crowded the chapel "to its utmost."

The highlight of the year was the missionary convention. One member of the church, Mrs. Jas. Gibson, remembers that "we looked forward to the missionary conventions for a long time before they came. There was a whole week of meetings with slides and missionary speakers every night. Those meetings were so good!"

The missionary pledge was taken at the end of the week, the culmination of a very special time of education and encouragement. Everyone, even children, was encouraged to write down on a pledge card the amount they would trust God to provide for them to give to missions in the next twelve months. Each department of the church also pledged what they planned to give. At the last service, these cards were filled out, gathered, and handed to the speaker of that day.

"The speaker would read off the amount written on each pledge card. Someone was responsible for adding these amounts and give us the total amount pledged. I would be sitting on the edge of the bench just so excited about the amount of money coming in," Mrs. Gibson recalls. "Everyone was eager to find out how much we had pledged to missions."

One of the groups that had their own annual missionary pledge was the Young People's Society. This group involved more than social enjoyment. They ministered to the elderly and evangelized on the street and parks during summer months.

The Ladies Prayer Band used the women's natural nurturing and creative skills as they gathered weekly to pray and minister to the material needs of the missionaries.

Under Rev. McIntyre's ministry, the church continued to grow. By 1954, the Sunday School was forced to have classes in various locations outside the church building on 4th Avenue to hold the increasing number of students attending. The Art Academy (dance hall), Legion Hall, and the YMCA were all used for Sunday School. The safety of the children was a deep concern, because they had to cross busy streets to get to their classes each Sunday.

The pressure to build a larger church was increasing. In 1954, property was purchased north of the Park Funeral Home on Third Avenue for $15,000. Pledges were raised in one week to cover the purchase, and then paid for over a period of time.

However, the church never built on this site. First, the church received an offer to sell their 4th Avenue church property to a garage dealer in 1956. Then, a large oil company offered to buy the 3rd Avenue property, paying $30,000 cash for it.

The church was able to purchase the property on University Drive and 13th Street, and sell the little white church building to a Baptist congregation who moved it to Maple Street. Roy McIntyre then led in developing the plans to rebuild a new church on the site of the original Alliance church in Saskatoon.

Dora Arnold with her class

Garage on 4th Avenue

Interior of garage

Renovating the garage

New stucco for the church

Alliance Tabernacle [photo by Harold Willems]

Mrs. Dora Arnold with her Sunday School class


Historical Flashbacks were researched and written by Lorraine Willems. Copyright 2003 and 2013 by copyright holders.