From Decline to Dynamic Growth

Report from Red Deer by Don Campbell

From declining Men’s Club to growing and supportive community. This is the story of how a change of focus made an exciting difference in the life of a congregation.

When Gaetz Memorial United Church in Red Deer found its membership list included several widows, widowers, and senior couples, the A.O.T.S. Men’s Club used a proactive approach. What the club did was open its doors to anyone interested in attending the once-a-month gatherings.

Age and gender considerations went out the window. What did not change was the format, a pot luck supper followed by a “hymn sing” and devotional.

The executive of the club worked hard at getting interesting speakers to talk on current issues. Topics ranged from travel to other continents to the operation of the Food Grains Bank. From an attendance of some 20 men, numbers rose to 60, 70, and 80. The men took on the job of laying out the food and washing the dishes, enabling the women to enjoy the night away from the dishwasher.

There are a lot of projects the group would like to fund — the Food Bank, People’s Place for the homeless, the Women’s Shelter, the Food grains Bank, and Gaetz Church itself. The executive set a goal of $3,000. They served a “Soup and Sandwich Brunch” early this year, and a Pancake Breakfast at the start of Lent. A drama and musical talent program in April  brings in the largest revenue. It commences with a dinner, followed by a program on a theme — Hawaiian Night, Western Night, Olympics Night, etc. The 200 capacity Pioneer Hall always sells out.

The group has developed a sense of belonging. Regulars are missed if they are not at the monthly get-togethers. Contact is maintained with everyone through a letter every two months setting out the next two programs.

Congregational Life Vol. 7 No. 3 August 2001

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