History of Linden Alliance Church
The Beginning ~ 1979
On September 11, 1979, a meeting of 32 people was held at the Dr. Elliot Community School with District Superintendent, Rev. Roy McIntyre representing the Western Canadian District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance with plans of establishing in Linden a new church. The Church, formally named “Linden Christian and Missionary Alliance”, began services that same month with Allen Andres filling in temporarily as the preacher. A few months later they called their first pastor, John Barach. As a temporary means, the congregation met in the school portables, and was able to pay the $6000 for them with the first offering. The original Board members were Larry Edel, Cliff Senft, Dennis Penner, Ben Folk and Cal Regehr.
Pastor Barach did an excellent job in leading the church through its first few months of meetings and worshiping together, he pastored the church well in those first few years. In July 1980; he resigned to pursue God's call upon him to teach. He took a position at Peace River Bible Institute where he stayed until his retirement.
Rev. Doug Gerrard (1981-1984)
Reverend Doug Gerrard was a very active pastor and again played some big key roles in establishing the church in the community, and even served on village council for a period of time. Under Pastor Doug's ministry many new programs were launched: an active Alliance Women’s group began, a Cradle Roll Outreach and Bible Study, a VBS in the Acme community, Sunday School and Children's Church ministries. Under Pastor Doug, many new initiatives were taken including the purchase and relocation of the church portables. Under the Gerrard's ministry, growth both in numbers and in commitment occurred. In August of 1984, Pastor Doug and family moved to Bayridge Alliance Church in Kingston.
Rev. John Marshall (1985-1987)
Rev. Marshall was used to steer the church through some difficult transitions, including a major decision made during that time regarding the location of the Alliance Church. Interest in moving the church to the village of Acme was heightened by an offer of a donation of six lots of land there. The church would be given the lots, and simple have to pay the taxes. This was a tough decision as a large majority of the congregation came from Acme, only a few kilometers from Linden. After much wrestling, the members decided to remain in Linden. John, his wife Betty and their children, moved to Edmonton in February of 1987 where they attended Sherwood Park Alliance Church.
Rev. Duncan McDonald (1987-1993)
Pastor Duncan became the longest serving pastor for the church to this point. Under his ministry numbers again increased after a relative low, with his ministry emphasis on “Growing Together” The Sunday School ministry in particular grew strongly, with over eighty children attending. In 1988, there was a vision to move and grow and so the church portables were sold and the congregation began meeting in the Cultural Centre for an interim period which lasted for the next five years.
Coming to a decision on the exact location of where they should build, as well as size and structure of the building, became a tough decision for the board. Duncan and the board dreamed and pursued various options. When the lots and building on Central Avenue became available, God led them to pursue that option and the church make the decision to purchase. After that a building program was actively pursued.
Then Pastor Duncan, his wife Bonnie and family took on a ministry in Orillia, ON.
Pastor Dave Anderson (September 1994-1997)
Pastor Dave Anderson and family were called in September of 1994. Under their ministry the church experienced significant numerical and spiritual growth and saw the completion of the initial phase of the building program. Pastor Anderson, a millwright by profession, came to the Church before he graduated and stayed for 3 years.
One of his greatest strengths was his ability to connect in the community. God led him to apologize to every family/house in Linden for any past hurts the Church may have caused them. One by one he visited every house in Linden with a box of donuts seeking their forgiveness. When Pastor Dave left in December, it had come as a shock to some of the congregation and left them a little stunned and unsure of what to do next. The last year had taken them spiritually to a place of deeper prayer for their Church as a whole and the ministries that surround it. Pastor Dave had planted in them a vision for reaching the community they lived in, and pushed them deeper in their relationship with Christ. In the background, God was preparing their hearts, and also the heart of their next pastor for the journey they were about to go on. From Linden, Pastor Dave and his family moved onto Stettler Alliance church.
Rev. Stuart McKnight (1998-2002)
February 1998 saw some big changes in the life of Linden Alliance both as a congregation and as people. Stuart McKnight was born and trained for ministry in Glasgow Scotland. After working as dean of students at Capenwray Bible School in Australia, both Stuart and his wife Teresa (a Canadian) felt that God was calling them to ministry in Canada. Arriving in Canada from Scotland with their two boys, (Scott and Taylor) and with no paper work, it was in fact a miracle that they were allowed in the country. Through God's power, immigration officials allowed them to stay. God had taken both Stuart and Teresa through some big lessons in grace in preparation for the ministry that they would have in Linden. Stuart, while searching for ministry work had applied for a position as associate pastor at the Mennonite Brethren Church in Linden. In that process, someone from the Alliance Church acquired his resume, and asked Stuart to preach the following Sunday as they had no pastor and no one to preach. Stuart accepted the opportunity and was warmly received, unaware of what was unraveling. Stuart ended up preaching the first two weeks of January. The second week, the board approached him about becoming their full time pastor. Stuart and Teresa accepted this position. Stuart quickly went through the accreditation process and was officially made pastor at Linden Alliance Church the first week of February.
Stuart was an anointed preacher, and he led the congregation deeper into the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, seeing some amazing transformation of lives and a great number of conversions.
In December of 1998, Drew Chislett was asked to join the staff full-time as a youth pastor. Drew, a farm boy from Australia, had sat under Stuart's teaching at Capenwray Bible School in Australia. He already had a good relationship with Stuart, and they both worked well as a team. With no formal theological training, district office still allowed Drew to apply for accreditation and was later approved that year as an official worker of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. In October 2000, Drew married Leanne Rempel from Steinbach Manitoba, whom he had met at Capenwray Australia.
The church continued to grow, and in August 1999, Daryl Wilson and his wife, Alicia, were hired to the position of part time worship pastor, which turned into a full time position as Daryl completed his accreditation in January of 2001.
The numbers continued to climb and it became apparent that the existing building was not going to be able to accommodate the amount of people that were attending. Introducing a second service on Sunday morning eased some of the pressure, and the idea for a new building project was presented.
Many locations around Linden were explored for a new church building site, but after much deliberation, and many meetings, it became apparent that the only option was to add on to the exiting location. During this time, Stuart and Teresa felt strongly that after four years of fruitful leadership, God was leading them on to a new pastoral ministry. With bittersweet blessing of the church and elders, they moved on to join the staff of Sherwood Park Alliance Church.
This left Linden Alliance with no senior pastor for nearly a year. This proved to be a stretching time for Drew and Daryl and the rest of the congregation, as the church continued to grow even with no senior pastor. The elders met weekly and searched many avenues and resumes for someone to fill the position. God eventually led the board to ask Drew and Leanne to consider taking the position of Lead Pastor. They accepted and in January of 2003 they were appointed.
Pastor Drew Chislett (1998-2005)
With Drew changing roles to lead pastor, the church was left without a youth pastor, so Carmen Bauer of Acme was brought in to head up the Junior High youth. At this time the entire pastoral staff was under the age of 27, and they felt that it would be beneficial to have someone with wisdom and experience on staff, and God provided miraculously. Norm and Vaila Backhouse, former pastors and professors at Prairie Bible Institute, came on to fill the role of Community Life Pastor. Norm was a welcome addition and fit the position very well. In one month, God had brought to Linden Alliance a Lead Pastor, a Youth Pastor and a community Life Pastor. Carmen and Norm both completed their accreditation in April 2003. The church had grown to nearly 400 by this time, and the new building program was solidified and underway.
Headed up by Les Hibbs, the process of adding on to the existing building began in the spring of 2003. The addition included a new sanctuary, foyer and several new classrooms to accommodate the growth of the church population.
The new church was completed in early 2004 and dedicated in March of 2004.
The attendance continued to climb with the addition of a staff member when Jessica Richards came on board as a teaching pastor. She also assisted Carmen working with the youth of the community. This gave the church a full time staff of five.
In early 2005, Drew and Leanne felt called to move to Australia and begin work there to plant a church. They went with the church’s blessing and support.
Norm and Vaila Backhouse also left in August of 2005 to take a position with Sherwood Park Alliance Church, leaving Daryl Wilson in charge with Carmen and Jessica still on staff.
This was a stretching time of really relying on the Lord with no lead pastor. During this time we had baptisms and there was spiritual growth. Daryl and the Board of Elders provided leadership and we had creative services. This took the form of different people sharing whatever God put on their heart to preach but also was often just a time of all of us sharing. It was a time of dependence on God and unity in the Body.'
Pastor Richard Woodlands (2006-2010)
In March of 2006 Pastor Richard with his wife Trudy and family accepted the call to be our lead pastor. They moved here from Phoenix, Arizona.
Lance Spurr joined the staff in September 2007 as Youth Pastor. Our attendance was still quite high…roughly 450…and we were glad to have a pastor to bring some stability to our congregation. Pastor Richard was a teacher who used a lot of scripture and this was much appreciated and there was spiritual growth. His wife, Trudy, was involved in organizing and facilitating a women’s ministry. This was much appreciated by the ladies of the church. Daryl Wilson, the worship pastor, left in January of 2009, followed by Lance Spurr in the spring of 2010.
As sometimes happens with change, it was a challenging time for all. A number of families moved away and by 2010 we were a relatively small congregation. It was felt God was working out His plan and purpose in the church even though one does not always understand His ways. Pastor Richard resigned in September of 2010.
2011 – 2012
From September 2010 to June 2012 LAC was without a pastor. The church benefited from the ministry available through technology and enjoyed several sermon series from Pastor Andy Stanley of North Pointe Church. Pastors from Calgary also visited a number of times as well as laymen from within the congregation also shared.
Pastor Bruce Palsky (June 2012 to present)
Pastor Bruce stepped in to help out on an interim basis in June of 2012. He provided excellent transitional leadership. In November God moved miraculously in several ways in the hearts of the church, Pastor Bruce and the District and Bruce was invited to permanently serve as the lead pastor. In December 2012 he and his wife, Evangeline (Vange) moved to Linden to take on serving the church.
We are not sure what the future holds, but we know who holds the future and we are trusting in an “all wise God” to lead us as we go forward.
There have been three verses that have impacted Linden Alliance Church. One was from Acts 2:42. “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” And also later in verse 47 it says…”and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
The other was “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV) This verse was placed on the dedication plaque in the foyer of the church as many have found great freedom in the grace of God that has been extended to them.
The future of Linden Alliance Church lies not in the hands of man, but in the hands of God, as we step back and allow Christ to build His church. So we look to Him, the author of our faith to lead us into freedom and be a part of extending His grace to a world that is searching.