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New church brought community together

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Kildonan Community Church was built in the late ‘80s to replace the former Kildonan Presbyterian Church.

PHOTO BY CHRISTINA HIEBERT Enlarge Image

Kildonan Community Church was built in the late ‘80s to replace the former Kildonan Presbyterian Church. Photo Store

This story begins in 1854 with Rev. John Black.

Black established what was then named Kildonan Presbyterian Church, on the banks of the Red River in now what is the Riverbend neighbourhood. This simple stone structure is replica of a church in Kildonan, Scotland.  

For over 130 years, the small church that had ancient wiring and no running water was where members from both the east and west sides of the Red River met for Sunday morning service.

In August of 1981, Rev. Dennis Carrothers arrived with his family and created a Sunday school across the street from the church, where the Red River Community Centre now stands.  

"With the expansion of the Sunday school, and the organ and coffee pot blowing one too many fuses when used together, it was determined that a new church building was needed," said Richard Graydon, church clerk.

Funds for the new church were raised through walk-a-thons at both Kildonan and Assiniboine Park. Presbyterian congregations were invited to a free fundraising banquet at the Winnipeg Concert Hall on Oct. 29, 1986.

"That one night of fundraising resulted in nearly $80,000 being donated," Graydon exclaimed.

With the money raised and a loan from the Presbyterian Loan Corporation, the project was ready to begin.

In April 1987, two supervising carpenters with an inner city youth initiative began constructing the building. Along with the new building, came a name change: Kildonan Community Church.

No longer tucked away in the cemetery, the church now looked out into the community and is a strong physical presence along Main Street.  

An important feature of Kildonan Community Church is Nisbet Hall, which originally opened in 1865 and was known as Kildonan School at that time. In 1969, in its original location on Scotia Avenue, the school was damaged by fire. The Province of Manitoba paid for the reconstruction and movement of Nisbet Hall to become part of the new church complex.

It has been 25 years since the first service at the new church was held on June 2, 1988. In addition to ample room for members and Rev. Brenda Fraser, the church prominently displays photographs of its history and the history of our community.

Christina Hiebert is a community correspondent for Riverbend and Rivergrove. You can contact her at christina.hiebert@gmail.com.

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