Off Lake church celebrates 50 years

They came from as far away as Saskatoon and Sudbury.
More than 200 people, including former pastors, turned out last weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Off Lake Covenant Church, which is located in Kingsford Township about 20 km north of Emo.
The church actually had its roots back in 1947 when Rev. Alrick Olson had a “vision” directing him to a location known then as Off Lake Corner, where he saw in his mind a long line of people coming out of the bush and into a church.
Thus began what became in 1955 the Off Lake Evangelical Covenant Church.
Initially, it was just a log cabin until a 30’x30’ section from the old Miscampbell Covenant Church and a tower were added in 1952. The church formally was recognized as a member of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America on April 10, 1955.
By the late 1950s, it became apparent the church would need a new facility if it was to continue to grow, so it was decided to relocate to its current site at the southeast corner of Highway 615 and Highway 71.
Ground-breaking got underway in 1959 and the new church was formally dedicated on Easter Sunday, 1961.
The 50th anniversary reunion got underway Friday with registration at the church, followed by a bonfire and wiener roast. The guest speaker for the occasion was former pastor Rev. Doug Reader.
On Saturday, there was a pancake breakfast at the church, followed by a walk down memory lane as former and current members of the congregation were encouraged to step up to the microphone and share their recollections.
After lunch, activities moved to the Barwick Hall, where there was a silent auction, followed by dinner.
Then after supper, there was a series of songs and hymns, highlighted by special guest speaker Rev. Jeff Anderson, the president/superintendent of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Canada.
After warming up the room with some light-hearted quips regarding the dubious advantages of turning 50, Rev. Anderson then directed his audience towards the more serious Biblical references of that number.
Rev. Anderson said every 50 years there is an opportunity to renew and start over. Referring to the Book of Leviticus, he remarked, “Consecrate the 50th and celebrate. In this year of the Jubilee, everyone is to return his own property.”
“God intended it [the 50th anniversary] to be a year of refreshment and restoration,” he added. “Don’t let this weekend go away without making it personal.”
The weekend concluded Sunday with a continental breakfast back at the church, followed by a worship service conducted by Rev. Larry Fullerton, who has been the pastor there since last year.
After lunch, it was all over until next time, which may not be for another 25 years. But for church member Ruth Teeple, it can’t come soon enough.
“It was pretty successful,” said Teeple, who also wrote and performed a song about the church at the dinner Saturday night.
“There were lots of memories, lots of laughs,” she added.