Saskatoon Revival 1971

As Rev. Walter Boldt reviewed the decade of ministry at University Drive Alliance Church that began in 1960, he had much to be thankful for. Yet, as a visionary, when he looked at 1970 and the beginning of a new decade, he knew that there was more to be done.

At a joint meeting of the two Boards of the church, he asked, "What would happen if we decided to reach this city for Jesus Christ?" The response was that the church would need first to have a revival. Once revived, the church family would be ready for full commitment and involvement in the spreading of the Gospel through Home Bible studies and effective witnessing in the community.

With this awareness of the need for revival, the church moved into the programs for the decade ahead. Some time later, Walter contacted the Sutera Twins who had already held two crusades at University Drive Alliance Church, hoping that they would agree to come again. They replied that Rev. Bill McLeod had already scheduled them for a Crusade at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Saskatoon.

With that information in mind, Walter arranged a series of meetings that would be beneficial to his congregation to run simultaneously with the Baptist crusade. J. Allan Petersen agreed to conduct a Family Life Series October 17 - 23, 1971. Immediately following the Family Life Series, University Drive Alliance would hold their annual missionary convention. He intended to provide such good programs for his congregation that they would not attend the Crusade.

However, some members did attend and reports that God was working in the Crusade began to surface. Walter wondered if he was depriving his people of a special work of God. After an intense personal struggle, he called a meeting of his elders to propose that they do something never before done in the 41 years of this church: cancel the missionary convention. The board agreed.

The decision by the leaders at University Drive to support the crusade released other congregations to also participate. The crusade moved to the Alliance church when St. Timothy's Anglican church, which seated 600 people, could not contain the crowds.

On the first night of the meetings at University Drive, Walter sat in the balcony as an observer. He saw nothing that impressed him, but God was at work. When the preacher was praying after the invitation had been concluded, Walter walked to the front. He was not there to minister to others. He had come to recommit his life to God.

His recommitment led to a public plea for forgiveness at a Pastor's Luncheon the following day. The response was not expected. Pastors shared their own spiritual needs. They wept and prayed together. God was reviving the pastors of Saskatoon.

With a revived pastoral team, revival came in greater measure. Repentance became a common aspect of the nightly meetings. People then made things right with people and with businesses that they had wronged.

A medical doctor who was a member at University Drive Alliance watched as night after night his patients walked to the front of the church. Knowing that disharmony had caused the physical problems, he would whisper to his wife, "Well, I guess I won't be seeing them in my office anymore." With relationships restored, he knew they would no longer need his services.

Rev. Orthner, the District Superintendant, wrote, "The Sunday morning service at University Drive Alliance Church was packed out and there was no preaching. People were confessing and testifying, and it lasted until four o'clock in the afternoon without a break. At Westgate Alliance Church the pastor said he had never seen so many tears shed in his life."

When they could no longer contain the crowds at University Drive, they moved the meetings to Third Avenue United Church that held sixteen hundred people. The facilities at University Drive continued to be used for the "afterglow" meetings that followed the evening service. These sessions were times of sharing and prayer. Anyone with a need could kneel at the chair in the center of the circle of chairs, and others gathered around to pray. The afterglows often continued until after 3:00 a.m. and even later. These afterglows were the beginning of a committed walk with God for hundreds of people.

One couple who had broken their marriage vows wanted to be "married again" for a new start. Walter performed the private ceremony and presented them with a certificate that indicated the witnesses to be "the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

The crusade had been scheduled for 12 days. The final service, on November 28, was seven weeks afterward. When the crusade was over, they held a meeting at University Drive Alliance for those who had made decisions during the meetings. Eight hundred people attended.

In Regina, Alvin Martin, President of Canadian Bible College & Canadian Theological College wrote, "Our November 25th chapel service began at 9:45 a.m. but did not conclude until 4:15 p.m., after many students and staff shared testimonies of how their love to God and men has been revived. The transparent honesty of pastors Boldt and McLeod and their church members from Saskatoon, who had given testimonies in an extended chapel the preceding Thursday, made a profound impact on us all."

Requests began to flood in asking Walter Boldt to travel to other churches across Canada and overseas to share what God had done in the Revival. Travelling with others whom God had impacted through the revival, Walter spoke in Edmonton, Vancouver, Los Angeles and many others. He was part of a team that travelled to Holland on two separate occasions. Anointed by God, his message challenged many. Often a spontaneous spirit of revival erupted in the meetings. When asked to define "revival," Walter stated that it was a personal experience, but also a corporate one. "God is at work [during revival], restoring His Church to health."

As Rev. Walter Boldt continued to serve at University Drive Alliance, he was now leading a revived, healthy church. The decade to come would be a challenge to their faith, but he knew that as they walked under God's leading and enabling, great things would happen.

The "After Glow" Meetings

Ebenezer Church (inset) and meetings at Centennial Auditorium (Photo by Faith Today)

Bill McLeod

On November 2, 1971, W.L. McLeod wrote:

"You may have heard something of the blessings of God on the work here in Saskatoon. But I felt I should drop you a line to let you know something of the extent of the Holy Spirit's working. We began in Ebenezer which holds 350-400 people. We then moved to Saint Timothy's Anglican Church which will seat 600 and jammed 700 in there. We then moved to the Alliance Church which will seat 1200 and moved from there to 3rd Avenue United Church which seats around 1400. Sunday night in the latter church we had 1800 in and took 300 over to another church for a satellite meeting. We are planning to go over this Sunday and get the city auditorium for the concluding rally.

The evangelistic team, Ralph and Lou Sutera, have been greatly used of God here. There are more testimonies and restitution going on here than you can imagine. Christians are publicaly getting right with God and with others in a very remarkable way.

After-glow meetings are held which sometimes run as late as six in the morning and it seems that in these meetings that perhaps the greatest work is done. People come under conviction of sin very suddenly and powerfully and sometimes the agony is very excruciating until release is found in Christ. [Normally] the shyest people in the congregation will not stand before a thousand people and give a ringing testimony. It is a tremendous work of the Holy Spirit of God"

"Revolution of Love" by Dr. K Neill Foster describes the explosion of love that characterized the revival.

Historical Flashbacks were researched and written by Lorraine Willems. Thanks to Harold Lutzer for providing material from Canadian Revival Fellowship. Copyright 2003 and 2013 by copyright holders.