Centre for Rural Community Leadership and Ministry



Memorial to Jeremy Brown and Donald Duholke

Jeremy was the oldest son of Pam and Scott Brown (Thorsby AB), born in Saskatoon in 1982.  Jeremy had Cerebral Palsy and was completely physically handicapped all his life.  His mind was quite alert and he had a non-verbal communication system that he used.  He died at 20 from secondary complications.

Donald was born in Stony Plain in 1932.  He was Pam's father.  Donald owned his own insurance business and lived in Calgary for many years.  He died of Lou Gehrig's disease on his 70th birthday.

Both Jeremy and Donald were dedicated churchmen participating fully in many levels of church life.  Blessed be their memory.

CiRCLe M would like to express its sincere gratitude to Pam and Scott Brown for their generous donation to the Centre, in memory of Jeremy and Donald.



IN MEMORIUM:  Rev. Dr. Gerald (Gerry) Hutchinson  1914-2015

Gerry Hutchinson was one of Canada’s National Treasures.  As a churchman, researcher / historian, story-teller and gentle-man his contributions are invaluable.

When reflecting on his student-ministry experience in the Fishburn District (near Pincher Creek, AB) he told about having time alone to meet himself and deal with all that had happened in the previous few years.

  • It was a profound and deep experience, as a university student, to be diagnosed with TB and to be “confined (in a sanatorium) with a community of diseased persons dying, waiting, hoping.”
  • The following year (1939) he attended the world Conference of Christian Youth in Amsterdam, which he described as “an overwhelming experience of spiritual community”.
  • On the voyage back to Canada, the ship he was on was the first passenger liner to be torpedoed in the North Atlantic in World War II.  He faced the possibility of immediate death.  What did it mean that he should survive?

“In the summer of 1940”, he told a Fishburn congregation fifty years later, “I came to you with unusual and special needs and you responded with a community of love and care.”

The farm boy and agricultural school graduate was admired for “the way he could handle a horse” and “a hay fork”, and for the way “he didn’t let denominational ties define his relationship with the community”.  He lived “high on the vibrancy of being alive” that summer.  (This serves as a healthy reminder of the important role people on summer-fields cared for their students.)

After working with the Student Christian Movement, Gerald had a long career at the provincial and national levels of the United Church of Canada, and serving congregations in Telfordville, Edinburgh, Edson, Grand Prairie and Granada, Alberta.

He “developed a keen interest in the history of the Canadian west and spent fifty years researching early contact between Aboriginal peoples and Protestant missionaries [pre-residential school era] …He was instrumental in the establishment and development of Rundle’s Mission at Pigeon Lake, AB.  Throughout his career he worked to foster and improve relationships between the church and Aboriginal communities.” (His papers and books on this subject are available for study and research in the Provincial Archives of Alberta.)  “He was a man of great intelligence, (an incurable) curiosity, humour, courage and strength.”

In addition to the work of Rundle, Gerald Hutchinson in later years focused on “the life and work of (Methodist missionary) James Evans.  The discovery of Evans’ notes on Aboriginal languages and those of other people of the world shed new light on the background and development of the syllabic script.  Once regarded as ‘Evans’ invention’, the world of Hutchinson and others reveals the relationship between the development of syllabic script and pre-existing Aboriginal symbols, as well as other modes of writing, in particular those from Asia …

Gerald Hutchinson has collected a large body of research resources that will serve historians for years to come.  But, more than that, he has forged the fragments of stories, which he found in the soil, among the people, and between the pages of countless documents, into the story of this (Alberta) province.”

(notes written by Joyce Sasse)  United Church Observer, June 2015 – Obituary for  Gerald Hutchinson. Note the picture of Gerry on the Alberta Online Encyclopedia site.


Remembering our Rural Ministry Heritage -
Memorial to Dr. R.F. (Bob) and Janet Schnell

Dr. R.F. (Bob) Schnell was Professor of Old Testament and Principal of St. Andrew’s College from 1943 – 1978.  The lives of Bob and Janet Schnell were rooted in rural Saskatchewan.  They are remembered for the way they shared with everyone a love for people, a love of music, and a tender, thoughtful and gracious quality of spirit.  Students and colleagues and members of church and (Saskatoon) community found their lives enriched by his scholarship and their deep sense of ministry.



In Honour of Rev. Dennis Wiig and Rev. Brian Wiig

CiRCLe M would like to express its sincere gratitude to Ursula Wiig for her generous donations to the Centre, in memory of Reverend Dennis Wiig and Reverend Brian Wiig.