Quest in Roots:
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OBERON UNITED CHURCH
The early pioneers came west with three main concerns occupying their minds - their horne- steads, their families'' education and Christianity.
As early as 1879 student ministers B. Goldie and W. McGregor were sent out from Portage La Prairie to hold church services in the homes of the homesteaders. Services were held in Wm.Alexander Sr.''s home on SE 21·12·15 and also in Laudrum''s house in later years. The Presbyterian services were held in the early days at the old Brookdale School on the southwest corner of H. Simpson''s farm. Rev. Goldie became an ordained minister and took the pastoral duties at Minnedosa. He occasionally walked from Tanner''s Crossing (now Minnedosa) a distance of 30 miles to preach at James McKinnon''s at Boggy Creek on NE 3·13-15.
In December ll, 1901 issue I quote, "St. John''s Church will hold a concert in Oberon (North) school on December 13, 1901." In 1884 Rev. T.e. Court was sent to the Wellwood area, making his home at Petrel and serving the four points: Petrel, Wellwood, Oberon and Brookdale. The Methodists, Presbyterians and Anglicans all held their worship services in homes and schools, sometimes all these denominations shared the school at different times on Sundays.
Oberon United Church was built in 1903 as a Presbyterian Church. It was a community effort, with three pioneers, John Mack, W. McKinnon and Adam McKenzie, backing notes to look after the finances. Incidentally, these three men comprised the first church board of managers and Rev. Court became the first pastor. The first secretary was Thos. McKenzie and the first treasurer was John Mack Sr. The first Sunday School was formed with Mr. Downton, the storekeeper, as superintendent and D. McQuaig as treasurer.
In 1913, due to illhealth, Rev. Court had to give up his pastoral duties and move to Carberry. R.H.
Lowry came as a student in 1912. He returned in 1913 as an ordained minister, remaining for three years. Rev. Davidson and Rev. Wattsmith followed him. In 1918, Rev. W.E. Kelley took charge for one year and was then forced to take a year''s absence on account of illness. Rev. F. Millar replaced him for that year. Returning in 1920, Rev. Kelley ministered until 1925 when the congregation voted in favor of church union, thus our church became known as Oberon United Church. At that time Oberon became part of the Brookdale charge and Rev.
Sallons was the first United Church minister. Other ministers who served in the charge were: Rev. J.E.
Bell (1926-29), Rev. Geo McNeill (1929-31). Rev. J.D.
McKenzie (1931·36), Rev. W.E. McDonald (1936· 40), Rev. J.P. Wotton (1940·1943), Rev. H. Smith (1943-1949), Rev. Gordon Daly (1949-1953), Rev.
D.M. Jaremko (1953·1956), Rev. M.E. Graham (1956·1961), Rev. G.M. Lake (1961·1965).
Due to poor attendance and lack of financial support, the church closed its doors in 1963 and joined the Brookdale United Church congregation, which later became part of the Neepawa Larger Parish in July 1971 with a team of ministers ministering to Neepawa, Eden, Arden, Birnie, Riding Mountain and Brookdale. Since then the ministers at Brookdale have been Mr. Leslie Jameson (1965· 1970), Rev. Carol Roberts (1970-1977) and many others who take their turns on certain Sundays at each church.
The organists at Oberon Church through the years were: Mrs. Morgan May, Dora McKinnon, Ida May, Mary Servant, Myrtle and Marj Byram, Mrs.
Geo Olstead, Mrs. R. Laudrum, Gladys Thorn, Vera May, Mrs. w.o. Poole, Kay Oliver, Mrs. L.
Baker, Mrs. E. Thorn, Elaine Mack. Some of the high school girls who acted as assistant organists were: Maxine Thorn, Edith and Phyllis May, Mona and Verna Martin.
The first church secretary was Thomas McKenzie. Others who held that position later were: Mrs. Arnold Mack, Ernest Mack (18 years, 1915·1932), Gladys Thorn (1933-1934), Arthur May (1935·1936), Mrs. Morgan May (1937·1939), F. May 1940, N. McKenzie (1941·1942), Mrs. Thos McKenzie (1943·1950), Anne Oliver (July 1950· 1954), N. McKenzie (1955·1956), Austin Mack (1957·1958), and Dorothy Martin (1959·1963).
The Oberon Church was finally demolished in 1976 by Doris and Edwin May who used a great deal of the lumber to build their new home on his grandfather''s (Morgan May) old farmhouse site.
The pews went to the Carberry Evangelical Free Church. The first hydro bill for the church was $40 in April 1949 for four months'' service.
Prior to its closing, Mona Martin and her brother, Vincent, had their double wedding performed there in August 1961. After the closing, Myrtle Byram and Bob Wilson were married in July 1964, Phyllis May and Wayne Rolfe in September 1971, Sheila Alexander and Norman Davidson in October 1971 - all ceremonies were performed there.
Our little village looks quite empty without the school and church.
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