Superintendents of the Free Methodist Church in Canada in the Canadian Prairie Provinces
Rev. G. S. Jenner | 1951 – 1959 Entire Conference.
by Grace Climenhaga
Rev. Wilfred Kinney tells of his appreciation for Rev. Gordon Jenner when he was superintendent. “I remember very well the work of Rev. Gordon Jenner when he was Superintendant of the Saskatchewan Conference. I remember that he was a very dedicated, energetic individual who did not spare himself. He was always gracious to me as a young man in ministerial training. He was superintendent of the conference while I was at Aldersgate College as President; we worked well together.” Wilfred Kinney also relates a story told to his mother — Mrs. Pearl Kinney, by Mrs. Jenner. The Jenners were moving from one circuit to another in the heat of July and during the course of the trip they had one flat tire after another. In each case Mr. Jenner took off the tire, repaired it on the spot, re-inflated it and put it back on the car. Wiping the grime and perspiration from his face, he got back behind the wheel again, only to have the performance repeated on up the road. Mrs. Jenner spoke of her husband’s patient spirit in the face of these trials, and said that she would surely never have cause to doubt his Christian testimony.
Mr. Jenner records his own story in the following paragraphs –
“I was saved at the Westview Church under the ministry of Rev. G. Smith and later sanctified at the Annual Camp Meeting. Having received a call from the Lord to the Christian ministry, I let my name stand for appointment at the Annual Conference of 1937. Consequently I was appointed as pastor of the church at Davis, Saskatchewan. This was the beginning of 42 years (at the time of this writing) in the ministry.
“Rev. C. B. Garratt, who was my first Superintendent, accompanied me by train to Davis. He stayed with me for a few days and helped me get settled in, which was certainly appreciated. His fatherly advice, counsel and godly example played an important part in the formative years of my ministry. Not only did I appreciate his concern and advice while he was my superintendent, but this appreciation was to continue throughout my ministry in so many ways.
“These were difficult times financially for everyone and money was not available for formal training in a Bible College. Moose Jaw Bible College was not yet opened. Consequently, I now embarked on a series of home study courses, to add to my academic training, for the ministry. In 1938, I was joined in my life end in His service by Florence Robson, who for almost 37 years was to be a wonderful wife and companion. For two years previous to our marriage she had been employed at Lorne Park College in Ontario. Any success I have had is due to a large extent to her support and understanding. She had the rare talent of making visitors to the parsonage feel welcome and ‘at home.’ In 1945, Marion Joyce came to join and complete our family circle. She was always interested in the work of the church and did not complain about some situations that are a part of being a P.K.
“In June of 1951, I was invited to hold a revival meeting for Rev. L. Henwood who was pastoring at Rapid City, Manitoba. We had just completed a new parsonage at Kindersley where we were then serving, During my stay with Laverne and Sylvia, he was telling me they would be in the new parsonage (at Kindersley) next year as they would have me elected Conference Superintendent.
Strange as it may seem, this is exactly what happened. During the Conference of 1951, I was elected to the superintendency and the Henwoods were moved to the new parsonage at Kindersley. Thus began what was to become eight years, (a full term then) of a new relationship and service to the church. Fourteen years as a pastor at Davis, Avonlea, Weyburn and Kindersley, brought this phase of my ministry to a temporary close.
“The first year was to be a year of adjustments and getting to know the churches in Manitoba and Saskatchewan better. It was also to be a time of sharing the burdens and joys of pastors and their families, in this new relationship. I knew from experience how much it meant to have the superintendent visit. I wanted my visits now to be profitable.
“We must, at this point, pay tribute and express appreciation for the splendid hospitality afforded me, my wife and daughter, who frequently accompanied me on my visits to the various churches. Our hearts were continually warmed and encouraged by the fellowship we shared with the pastors and their families, as well as with their parishioners whom we learned to love.
“The first problem confronting us was a place to live. Since the Wartmans and the Millers were associated with Moose Jaw Bible College, and not requiring the district parsonage, it had been rented out. It was a year before it was available end during this time we lived in a suite in the home of the Robsons (Florence’s parents.) The second year we ware able to settle in the conference parsonage for the balance of my term in the office.
“There are many stories that could be told, coming out of the experiences of those years. I would like to tell you a few.
“As we returned from conference to pack our things, Walter and Betty Cooke informed us that they were taking us to the mountains for a few days. Our first trip to the Rockies turned out to be an enjoyable and restful time. This was our first real holiday in many years. Words fail to express what this meant to us as we made the transition from one area of work to an entirely new one. We returned to Kindersley and after packing our car we took off for Lone Rock, near Lloydminster, and to our first appointment. It seemed that almost suddenly the names and places we had known casually, were to become a very real part of our lives.
“We were especially happy to come back to Prince Albert. The nucleus of the church there was made up of people from Davis; people who had been patient and encouraging to a lonely and inexperienced young pastor. Here also, our married life had started.
“One of the important happenings of the first year was the beginning of the work among the Indian People, by the Saskatchewan Conference. The first opening was at Broadview, where Lloyd and Bessie Robertson had been appointed as resident missionaries. After many difficulties and some opposition on the part of the Indian people, the church eventually bought property on the edge of the reservation.
Here, during the following years, a church and parsonage were to be built and were to lend permanence to the work. Much credit is due to the Robertsons for their work, and for their efforts in the early years to find the right approach in order to serve these people of a different culture. This was but the beginning of work that would increase and reach out to many areas in the years to come.
“One of the interesting parts of this period was my association with the Canadian Executive Board; here we became better acquainted with a larger area of the church at work. An amusing incident comes from a trip to the Executive Board. On a previous visit to a board meeting held at the Broadview Church in Toronto, we had been taken outside at break time, and the Don Jail had been pointed out to us. Arriving at Toronto station with only a short time to make it to the meeting, I called a cab and when I gave the driver the name of my destination, he did not know the location. When I mentioned seeing the Don Jail from the church on a previous visit, he quickly responded, ‘!I know now where it is; I spent some time there.” We were soon on our way.
“A rewarding and inspiring experience was our attendance at the General Conference of 1955. I was the ministerial delegate and Florence was delegate on behalf of the Women’s Missionary Society. It was encouraging to see the concern and vision of the general church. Also it was a time of rich fellowship.
“A number of building programs took place during this period. We had just finished a new parsonage at Kindersley, and consequently we knew the things to be gained in this type of work. These had been times of unifying, inspiring, and increasing the vision of a congregation. The progmams which took place during these eight years included, — a new appointment and a church building at Brandon, Manitoba; new churches at Kindersley, Estevan, Moose Jaw and the Broadview Indian Mission, as well as a new parsonage at the Broadview Mission. The church at Regina was re-located in another part of the city and into a larger building.
“Much of our time was also involved in working at Moose Jaw Bible College. We served here in various capacities for periods of time, some of the duties involved being President of the Board of Directors, and business manager of the school. We enjoyed this part of our service to the church, as it had always been a pleasure to work with young people.
“In the later stages of my office, we arranged to rent facilities at Arlington Beach from the Canadian Sunday School Mission. Here we held a retreat for pastors and their wives. This property was later purchased and became the permanent camp grounds for the church.
“A rather amusing coincidence of my ministry was the fact that all my moves, and election to the superintendency, took place while Bishop Fairbairn presided at the conference. It was with a spirit of uncertainty that we anticipated the return of Bishop Fairbairn to preside over the conference.
“As mentioned earlier, the first year of my term was marke by the launching of the work among the Indian people. A very important event was to come in the closing year of my office. Some steps had already been made toward a merger of the Holiness Movement Church in western Canada with the Free Methodist Church. It was my privilege to be able to visit the Holiness Movement churches in company with their superintendent, Rev. E. H. Childerhose. I enjoyed rich fellowship with him and shared his concern for his church. It was in a Christian atmosphere of co-operation that this merger was accomplished at the conference of 1959. This has proven to be a very wise and profitable decision for all concerned. I am glad that I was privileged to be a part of this in the closing year.
“I have paid tribute to my wife and daughter, pastors and their wives, and the church membership at large. I would like to conclude this material with the greatest and most important tribute of all. I would like to praise the Lord for His wonderful blessing of grace and victory. Whatever was accomplished Was done with His blessing and help. It was a privilege to serve Him through the various avenues of the church, as long as possible. I praise him for the victories won in His name.
“In conclusion, may I express appreciation to all who prayed and encouraged us along the way. It is great to belong to the family of God!”