McLaurin Memorial

Blog #285: A Look at Us – From the Past to the Present

From our new church website (www.mclaurinbaptist.org) is the following page, entitled “A Look at Us – From the Past to the Present”.

McLaurin Memorial Baptist church has a long history in Edmonton, opening in 1912 in the Allendale area of Edmonton as a Sunday School Mission planted by Strathcona Baptist Church.  

After WWII, the Sunday School Mission was reconstituted to Allendale Baptist Church. In 1952, the building was sold to the Salvation Army and the church relocated to the Parkallen district of Edmonton. 

In 1953, the church was renamed McLaurin Memorial Baptist Church and had 25 charter members. The pastor at the time was Rev. Victor Hahn who, with his wife Helen, had previously been a missionary in India with the Canadian Baptist Overseas Missions Board serving alongside fellow Canadian John Bates McLaurin and his wife Mary. John Bates McLaurin went home to glory in 1952, and so in 1953, Rev Hahn recommended to the congregation to name the church in memory of his friend and former colleague. 

In 1964, property at the current location of 51st Avenue and 111th Street in the southwest Edmonton neighbourhood of Malmo was purchased and a new building was constructed. During the year-long period the building was being built, the congregation met at Lendrum Elementary School until the opening of the new building on January 17, 1965. 

To better minister to children and youth, 4000 sq feet of space was added to the church building for Christian Education in 1972.

There was much happiness and celebration on May 1, 1983 when the congregation had a mortgage burning celebrating the Lord’s faithfulness.

Evangelism has been part of the DNA of the church since its foundation. A strong focus on outreach, particularly to children, remains to this day. In the early days, Sunday School was the way children were reached for the gospel. By the 1990s, the church partnered with Young Life and made the building available during mid-week lunch hours for outreach. At that time several teens committed their lives to the Lord. In fact, in 1997 alone, the church saw 16 baptisms of new believers. It was also during the ‘90s that the church outgrew the facilities for Sunday morning worship and two morning services were initiated to accommodate the numbers. Throughout its history, the church has been a strong supporter of Christian camping, particularly at Gull Lake Baptist church where church members have been actively involved for years, both working at, financing, and sending the youth to the various camps offered.

In 2009, the church decided to refocus on evangelism as well as intergenerational life within the congregation. After a nine-year absence, John Cline returned as the pastor in January 2010 and decided that the sermon focus would be on expository preaching through the books of the Bible. By January 2022, 51 of the 66 books of the Bible had been preached through, leading to a deepening of the congregation’s knowledge and faith in the Lord and how Biblical teaching can be applied in today’s world.

The first decade of the new millennium saw some good things happen but also many challenges. In 2010 the Church sought to plan a new way of doing ministry and so they entered a time of prayer and introspection asking God to take over.  It was a time of divine intervention and inspiration that led to a conviction that our future in the 21st century would have to start with reclaiming the family for God and so our goal was based on Faith, Family and Fellowship.  It was a time of relationship building with God, with fellow believers and with our extended community.  It was a time of extra ordinary blessing as God led numerous families to come, many with strong spiritual gifts that were needed at that precise time.  The result was over a period of one year, God called some 50 people from 14 different nationalities and cultures to McLaurin, most of them families.  A truly faith-based ecumenical movement that ignored denominational and cultural differences because they simply wanted to worship and glorify the Lord (to be God’s people) to reclaim their families for God.

Myung Sung Presbyterian Church began renting the church building in 2011, meeting on Sunday afternoons. Both congregations also join together for special services and events throughout the year.

As a demonstration of our commitment to evangelism, in 2013 Dr. Setri Dzivenu was hired as the Director of Administration and Outreach and under his leadership and influence, the church began to grow once more.

As the residents of the Malmo and Pleasantview communities began moving on and as new residents moved in, the church re-established its presence in 2014 by initiating an annual Try Praying campaign, which continues to this day. Church members walk the streets and cold-call at the neighbourhood homes and simply ask if they can pray for the home occupants. Met with some resistance in the initial years, many community residents state that they look forward to and appreciate the church’s show of support and concern. 

For several years (before Covid), the church held an annual Black History Month event. Various churches from Edmonton, business people, and dignitaries from all around Edmonton attended, giving tribute in word and song to the accomplishments and impact of the Black community here in our City.

Each year in the spring, the church holds a Bicycle Tune Up event where community members bring their bikes in for free servicing. Currently, the church has an on-site city-licensed Daycare which is particularly accessible for community residents.

In the regular day-to-day life of the church, there are multiple study and prayer groups, monthly nights of prayer, worship teams, Sunday School classes for all ages, a weekly Kidz Klub, a monthly Men’s Group, days of fasting and prayer, as well as an annual 40-days of prayer as a lead up to Lent.

In 2022, with much anticipation, Takudzwa Lavin Nyariri was hired as Director of Youth. Lavin’s commitment to the Lord and exuberant personality have quickly bonded her to the youth and their parents.

Currently, McLaurin Church is multinational with many Canadian-, African-, and Asian-born congregants, with a few Americans and Europeans thrown in to round us out! 

While all of the above is good, without being grounded by the preaching and studying of the Word of God and seeking the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit in prayer,  our efforts would be fruitless.

May God have the glory and honor for the successes in growing disciples in the past and may He both continue and increase the impact the church has in this corner of Edmonton.

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