How Kirk Centre Came to Be
Kirk United Church Congregation was a declining community of faith that took a courageous look at themselves and the neighborhood and decided to think outside the box. In 2015 Kirk Congregation worked with it's governing body, the Edmonton Presbytery, to rethink the options of what can be done with a Church building when the congregation can no longer sustain it.
Although Kirk Congregation disbanded in June of 2019, a continued presence in NW Edmonton was very important to everyone involved. The impact of selling the church and property would have affected the entire community. In many cases condominiums and retail space is constructed in these types of sold lots. Causing a large shift in the feel of an established community.
Communities need space to come together in many different ways. Kirk Centre provides this space. As a not for profit, we feel as though we have created a great model to re-purpose structurally sound buildings in establishing a non-profit that manages the building as a community hub to ensure that there are affordable common spaces for any community group or program.
I operation since 2016, Kirk Centre incorporated under the Societies Act of Alberta in December 2019 and has grown to be a thriving community hub in the Dovercourt community. We are continuing to pave a new way forward for Edmonton Community Hubs and it's beautiful existing structures and infrastructure.
The History of the Kirk Centre Building
Late in 1953 a W.A. circle from McDougall United Church started a Sunday School in
Sherbrooke School to serve Sherbrooke, Dovercourt and Woodcroft. Mrs. G. Martin was
appointed the first Superintendent. The work was continued in 1954 with Mrs. W.
Morgan, a Deaconess with the Extension Department of the Edmonton Presbytery, who
took over as Superintendent and carried on for a year. The Sunday school grew and
classes were held in one gymnasium and most corridors. On May 10, 1955, Mrs. Morgan
called a meeting of interested people, and the decision was made to start a church
(where two or more are gathered together...). A religious Education Committee was
formed with Mr. H. G. Williamson, Chairman, and Mr. A.J. McCullough as
secretary-treasurer. Services began the next Sunday with Mrs. Morgan conducting
them until the end of June 1955.
During the summer of 1955, Mrs. J.E. Kirk was contacted by Edmonton Presbytery to
do extension work in this area, and because of her hesitancy, Mr. Kirk encouraged her by
saying he would help, although he was on leave from the Edmonton Presbytery because
of ill health. Despite Rev. Kirk's poor health he took the Sunday Services, and his
leadership and example, in four brief months played a very important part in the establishment of the Congregation. Mrs. Kirk worked together with her husband and continued to work after his death on Dec 30, 1955.
On January 1, 1956, Rev. J.R. Geeson, a retired minister, accepted the duties as a minister of the church, and under his leadership the church continued to grow. On April 18, 1956, application was made to Presbytery for recognition as a congregation. This would establish them as a church, so they had to have a name. They had been known as "The United Church of Canada, serving Sherbrooke, Dovercourt and Woodcroft Districts". At a meeting held on May 27, 1956 the congregation voted to name the church "Kirk United Church".
The Service of Constitution was held on June 10, 1956 with 227 people joining as Charter Members. During spring 1956 there were many meetings held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. McCullough, for to be recognized as a church meant great responsibilities; Committees were formed - the Committee of Stewards, Board of Elders, Women's Organization, to name a few.
In the fall of 1956, Mr. Dick Martin came as minister, helping them to operate as a church should, and a Building Committee was set up.
Edmonton Presbytery had bought 5 lots on St. Albert Trail north of Dovercourt Ave. The Building Committee considered this location, but didn't think it would be large enough, and there would be a parking problem. They met with the Planning Department of the City of Edmonton and made an exchange of property. The present site had been set aside for apartments, but the City was going to rezone it, and they were able to get the property.
In order to call an ordained minister, a manse was necessary, and so this was the first project of the Building Committee. It was completed in the fall of 1957, and Rev. Ian MacMillan and his family were able to move in. In the spring of 1959, the Christian Education Building was finished and Church Services, Sunday School, and mid-week groups joyfully invaded every square inch.
The general plan for the Sanctuary addition follows quite closely the layouts first designed when the Christian Education Building was built. It was a comprehensive plan involving both the church and the hall. The general feeling of the congregation can be expressed in the words of the Building Committee chairman, John Soprovich, at the Service of Dedication January 2, 1966, "I accept these keys believing this house to be well and faithfully constructed. Now with gratitude we see this place of worship finished and open for worship and service..."