– From the Beginning –
Southgate 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 as 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.
– The 90s and the New Millennium –
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.
– A Turning Point –
By late 2009 began a time of God directing us towards evangelism as well as towards a focus on intergenerational life within the congregation. Much prayer and introspection followed, asking God to continue moving. The initial first step was that in January 2010, after a nine-year absence, John Cline returned as the pastor.
Next, God’s inspiration led to a conviction that our future in the 21st Century would include reclaiming the family for God and to that end a new motto was adopted: Faith, Family, and Fellowship. So began a time of determined relationship building with God, with fellow believers, and with our extended community. And because God was directing, it was a time of extraordinary blessing.
Numerous families joined the fellowship, many with strong spiritual gifts that were needed at that precise time. The result was that over a one-year period, God called some 50 people from 14 different nationalities and cultures to McLaurin, most of them families. It was truly a faith-based movement that ignored denominational and cultural differences, where people simply wanted to worship and glorify the Lord, to live as God’s people, and to reclaim their families for God.
This determined reliance on God’s leaning, coupled by the sermon focus on expository preaching through the books of the Bible was key. By May 2022, 52 of the 66 books of the Bible had been preached through, leading to a deepening of the congregation’s knowledge, faith in the Lord, and spiritual maturity resulting in a greater reliance on God and a better understanding of how to live day-by-day as a Christ-follower in today’s world.
– The World Arrives On Our Doorstep –
In 2011, Myung Sung Presbyterian Church, a Korean Congregation, began renting the church building for worship on Sunday afternoons. The two churches meet together for special services and occasions 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, businesspeople, and dignitaries from all around Edmonton attended, giving tribute in word and song to the accomplishments and impact of the Black community here in and around Edmonton.
Each year in the spring, the church holds a Bicycle Safety Check event where community members bring their bikes in for free servicing. Currently, the church has an on-site city-licensed daycare – Joyfull Care and Early Learning. The Christian ladies from Ethiopia who run the daycare appreciate the central location with its great parking and which is particularly accessible for anyone passing by on the whitemud.
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!
On January 29, 2023 the Church membership voted unanimously to be renamed Southgate Baptist Church Edmonton.