Rev. J.M. Murray


"One sunny Saskatchewan afternoon in June 1933, while my wife and I were attending the Alliance camp meeting in Denzil, Saskatchewan, the Western District superintendent of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (Alliance) surprised us with a very unexpected request," Rev. James Murray recalls. "Mr. Williams asked, 'Would you go to Saskatoon and plant the seed of an Alliance church in that city?' Saskatoon's population at that time numbered about 45,000. This proposal seemed to clash with the Lord's will for us for 1933-34. That was to be my senior year at Prairie Bible Institute, and I was also scheduled as a student teacher. What should we do? 'Well, young folks,' Mr.Williams counselled, 'the Lord will show you.' And He did.

Mr. Williams also told us that the Alliance had started a work in 1930, but it had failed. Our assignment sounded like 'Operation Resurrection.'

Mrs. Murray and I agreed that we would seek God's will separately. If we both came up with the same answer, either yes or no, that would be our direction from God. We found that 'yes' was the will of the Lord for us. We had a verse from Deuteronomy which reads, 'Ye have compassed this mountain long enough, turn you northward.' That seemed to underscore it for us.

Mrs. Murray returned to Edmonton to get things ready to move, while I went on to Saskatoon to find an apartment and to commence the church services.

"I stayed in the Broughton home until I found a suitable apartment, " recalls Rev. Murray, Saskatoon Alliance's first pastor. "A little unused Church of Christ building stood on the corner of University Drive and 13th Street that held about 80 people. I rented it for $15 a month, paid by the Toronto office. That amount seems little now, but those were the days of the dusty, dirty thirties.

The attendance seldom exceeded 25, sometimes going as high as 30. The offering with which we bought our groceries seldom amounted to $10 a week. My widowed mother, who appeared on the scene to 'help' us, paid our rent. I found that an embarrassment, but we could not have paid it from the church offerings. Our transportation was 'Shoe leather service' and occasionally the streetcar.

We preached the Word and loved our little flock, and found the 'joy of the Lord to be our strength.'"

The Murrays resigned from the church effective the end of December, 1933 and returned to complete the interrupted Bible training at Prairie Bible Institute.

"Through the ministry in Saskatoon, we found that the Lord was preparing us for our life's work at Prairie Bible Institute," Mrs. Murray stated. "We praise Him for the time spent in Saskatoon."

On occasion Rev. Murray visited the church after his time of ministry. He recalls, "Mr. Brooks and I were close friends. He had me preaching in the Saskatoon pulpit any time I went through. I also remember visiting while they were in the process of turning the garage building into a church building.

In a letter written in 1979, the Murrays add, "We thank God that the work has grown in Saskatoon. May it continue more and more to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Mrs. Murray passed away in January, 1983. Mr. Murray continued to reside in Three Hills, Alberta where he spent most of his years of ministry on staff at the Prairie Bible Institute.

The first attempt to plant an Alliance Church in 1930 failed. Read about the role that "Old Knox Church" played in the formation of the first Alliance church in Saskatoon.

The First Church at University Drive & 13th Street

Broughton Family

Historical Flashbacks were researched and written by Lorraine Willems. Copyright 2003 and 2013 by copyright holders.