Fort McMurray First United Church Welcomes You

Here's what's going on in and around our church.



*All God’s Critters come to church! Our annual Pet Blessing service be on Sunday, September 30th.  Pets will receive and blessing and a treat, so bring your animal (or a picture) to worship and please invite any friends with pets to join us! Also, because our Pet Blessing will be on the last Sunday of the month, our monthly potluck lunch will be moved to Sunday, September 23.

*Sunday School is back! We will be having Sunday School every other weekend this fall. A big thank you to Joelle Lagasse for being on our Sunday School Team. We do need more teachers to be able to offer Sunday School more often, so prayerfully consider joining the team. Our Whole People of God Sunday School online resource is straight-forward and accessible.

*Messy Church will resume in October. So, get ready to begin another year of church for the whole family that includes food, fun, and messy (and not-so-messy) activities to help us learn stories of Jesus and all about God’s amazing love. Join us on Wednesday, October 3 from 5:15-7pm.

*Yellowhead Presbytery is coming to Fort McMurray! Our congregation is hosting the final meeting of presbytery next month, October 19-21 and you are invited to help by offering willing hands and yummy treats. Sign-up opportunities will be posted in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned! 


*Thank you for giving! The money you give makes a different, funding the ministry and mission of First United Church in this community and beyond. So far this year, we are 69 percent through the year and our offerings are 58 percent of our budget. Consider making your offerings by PAR (pre-authorized remittance) or on your credit card, so you can support your faith community when you are away. If you need any further information, please email Isabelle Doblanko at or take a PAR pamphlet the next time you are at the church.

*Sharing time and talent with your community of faith! We will have a new sign-up sheet for greeters and readers for the fall. As well as saying ‘hello’ greeters will hand out hymn books and bibles. Readers will receive an email with Sunday’s scripture readings by Friday. This isn’t just for grownups: All ages are welcome! 

Think about joining the Unified Board, which meets once a month. We particularly need people to serve on the Ministry and Personnel and the Worship Committees.

We also need an individual to be a Right Relations Witness for our congregation. If you are passionate about healing and justice with indigenous peoples, this is for you.

*Justice in a Cup of Coffee: As of this Sunday, First United will be using Fair Trade coffee for our social time following worship.


 Office Hours


Rev. Donalee Williams is in the office Friday, September 21 from 10am-4. She will be away from the office next week attending Conference Intercultural Ministry event in Edmonton. 


 Upcoming Dates

Sunday, September 23: Potluck lunch after church.

Sunday, September 30: Pet Blessing Service

Wednesday, October 3, Messy Church, 5:15-7pm

October 19-21 – First United Church hosts final Meeting of Yellowhead Presbytery

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 Fort McMurray


First United





2016 Annual Report


Annual General Meeting


February 26, 2016




Table of Contents


Report                                                                                             Page


 Minutes from the 2014 Annual Congregational Meeting                   1, 2, 3

 Chairperson's Report                                                                    4

 Minister's Report                                                                           5, 6, 7

 Right Relations Report                                                                       8

 Wider Church Report                                                                              9

 Ministry and Personnel Report                                                               10

 Space Sharing, building, and Trustees Report                              11

 Sunday school Report                                                                   12

 Worship Committee & Musicians Report                                     13

 Messy Church Report                                                                   14

 List of Baptisms and Funerals                                                         15

 Finance Report                                                                                16

Wild Fire Fund                                                                                  17 

 Envelope Steward's Report                                                           18

 Mission and Service and Housing Fund Report                              19

 Cash Flow Report                                                                              20, 21

Assets and Liabilities                                                                               22


Annual General Meeting


First United Church


March 6, 2016




Present: Joanne Wyllie, Isabelle Doblanko, Alistair MacKay, Niola McLean, Ian Williams, Kelvin Sawatsky, Marjorie Epp, Mark Wyllie, Evelyn Eddy, Doreen Hussey, Marlene Swain, Alison MacKay, Dorothy Parsons, Rev. Donalee Williams

  The meeting was called to order by Isabelle Doblanko at 12:05 am

  Rev. Donalee Williams opened the meeting with a prayer.


 Motion 05.03.16 Moved by Alistair MacKay , seconded by Mark Wyllie that everyone present has a right to vote, whether or not they are a congregation member. All in favor. Carried.

 The 2015 Annual Report was put on screen for those present to review. Time was given, and congregation agreed to proceed.

 Motion 06.03.16 Moved by Alistair MacKay, seconded by Marjorie Epp that the First United Church 2015 Annual Report be accepted as distributed. All in favor. Carried.


REPORTS (presented)

 1. Chairperson’s report – as presented by Isabelle Doblanko.  Isabelle thanked everyone for their assistance throughout her term as Chairperson.  She will be stepping down having served 3 years in this position.

 2. Ministers and Presbytery Report – as presented by Rev. Donalee Williams

 a. Rev. Donalee Williams expressed her deep gratitude for our connection to the community and work done by those present for their support over the year. She noted extreme appreciation for the support given by all congregation members during her sabbatical.

 b.  Presbytery report – We continue to look for a Presbytery representative.  Alistair MacKay spoke about the opportunity to see new parts of the province.  Isabelle Doblanko recognized the commitment he has shown in attending and thanked him for his contribution. 

 3. Ministry and Personnel Report – as presented by Mark Wyllie

 a.  Mark Wyllie informed the congregation of the changes to the committee during the year - Marjorie Epp stepped down and Brenda Burry moved away.  He also let the congregation know that we had to reduce our administrative support from Pauline Hamelin as part of cost conservation efforts – down to Wed/Thurs hours.

 4. Trustee Report – as presented by Alistair MacKay

 a. Alistair indicated that we are at a maximum for user groups – soundproofing would be a required next step if we were to expand.

 b. Communications with groups holding empty lots near the church are ongoing.  Developments may or may not occur in 2016 on these lots.

 c. Plans need to be considered for when the lease is up in 2028 – negotiations should begin 2018 with the city to ensure these plans are in place for the future.

 d. Alistair expressed thanks to Tom Miller for the work he’s done for our church maintenance over the years.

 5. Sunday School – as presented by Sharon Budgell. 

 Sharon Budgell indicated that Sunday School continues as a regular offering of our church community – we gain and lose children on a regular basis.  Sharon indicated that she may have another SS teacher who can help on occasion.  Rev Donalee Williams thanked Sharon for her contribution.  Those present recognize the laughter we hear from downstairs in the main church that makes us smile.


6. Worship Committee/Musicians – Norma Jean not available to present

 a. Mark Wyllie stated the schedule seems to work well for musicians – Norma Jean Atkinson continues to coordinate for regular service and special church music requirements.   Rev Donalee Williams thanked all musicians for embracing her musical requests.

 7. Messy Church – as presented by Rev. Donalee Williams

 a. Rev Donalee thanked Dorothy Parsons and Sharon Budgell for all their craft help, as well as all those who provided food and cleanup.

 b.  Messy Church is growing and it is fabulous.  Sharon Budgell thanked all who help in every capacity to make this regular monthly evening happen.  Alison Mackay commented that the church statistics in their current format done’t allow for accurate reporting Messy Church. 

 8. Envelope Steward – as presented by Alistair MacKay

 a. Alistair MacKay pointed out that additional 2014 revenues were due to roof replacement (insurance)

 9. Mission and Service – as reported

 10. Housing Fund Report – as reported

 11.  Financial Report – Alistair MacKay provided a replacement report with more detail.

 Motion 07.03.16 Moved by Mark Wyllie, seconded by Alistair MacKay to approve the First United Church 2015 Annual Report as amended.  Note:  An approved 2016 budget will be put in final copy of the 2015 Annual Report once voted.

 Motion 08.03.16 Moved by Mark Wyllie, seconded by Joanne Wyllie that we set a goal of $6000 for 2016 to contribute to M&SIt was agreed we will send all funds we collect.  All in favor.  Carried.

 2016 Budget Discussion led by Alistair MacKay:

 Alistair presented 2 options for the 2016 budget prepared for the Annual General Meeting.  Positively, income for the first 2 months of 2016 is same as was in 2015.  This is good news.  Alistair MacKay also noted that:

 Ø  Presbytery pays for travel, but not for accommodation.  Signback for travel was added to revenue and Presbytery travel expense for Option 2 budget.

 Ø  Mark Wyllie talked about Rev. Donalee Williams idea for special appeal/fundraising.  An Envelope Pick would be intended to appeal for funds outside our congregation – user groups, other organizations etc.

 Ø  Isabelle Doblanko thanked Alistair MacKay and the board for their work on the budget.

 Ø  It was noted that the Lutheran church is closing and First United Church would welcome those members into our congregation.  Mark Wyllie indicated that we can all do our part in promoting growth of the congregation through hospitality to visitors and those “shopping” for a new church.

 Motion 09.03.16 Moved by Mark Wyllie, seconded by Niola McLean that we approve Option 2 budget as presented. All in favor. Carried

 Alistair MacKay noted that we are now considering hosting Presbytery in October of this year and will need to plan for this.  He also noted that next year will be the 50th Anniversary of First United in Fort McMurray, which we will also need to plan for.  Our financial situation will need to be considered carefully in these plans.

 The following Board positions were identified as vacant for the coming year:

 Trustee (4th) - Marlene Swain has agreed to be a Trustee, joining Mark Wyllie, Alistair MacKay, and Ailsa Graham (who no longer resides in Fort McMurray, but has not resigned as yet)

 Chairperson - Isabelle Dobalnko nominated Sharon Budgell; Dorothy seconded the nomination.  No further nominations were made for the position.  Sharon Budgell accepted the nomination. 

 Envelope Steward - Alison MacKay nominated Isabelle Doblanko; Mark Wyllie seconded the nomination.  No further nominations were made for the position.  Isabelle Doblanko accepted the nomination.

 Niola McLean noted that all First United bank accounts  will require new signing authorities.  Joanne Wyllie noted this as an agenda item for the next board meeting.

 Rev Donalee Williams ended the AGM with a prayer.  Meeting was adjourned at 1:15pm.



 Chairperson's Report 2016


 This past year has probably been one of the most interesting years to start in the role as chair of the First United Board.  As I prepared to write this report I read the report of 2015 by Isabelle Doblanko.  At that time we reflected upon our place in the community, our relationships with our user groups and our worry about the drop in oil and the strength of our dollar. We thought we were headed into challenging times but knew we had faith and strength as a church family.


Then there was a fire.  I believe for many years we will probably measure time as before and after the fire.    We certainly came together as a church family.  It was a blessing to hear from Reverend Donalee who seemed to be able to find us all and pull us all together in thought and prayer.  I was delighted to find some of our church families in the same hotel and to have the opportunity to get together and share a meal, stories and healing.


 Little by little we all made our way back to Fort McMurray. We rejoiced each Sunday as another family returned.  We shared our loss and our joys each Sunday through stories and selfies.  I am humbled by the support our church has received from across the nation.  I am proud to be a part of a church that opened its doors to volunteers even before we returned.  I am proud to be a part of a church that continues to seek ways to support those affected by the fire.  I look forward to watching us continue to grow as a church family and caring part of our community.

 Eventually we came back to business as usual.  The board has been busy reviewing and voting on the Remits.  The Unified Board has voted on 4 remits, which places us well ahead of the deadline of June 30, 2017.  The board voted in favor of Remit 1: Three Court Model, Remit 3: Office of Vocation, Remit 4: Funding a New Model.  The Board voted against Remit 2: Elimination of Transfer and Settlement.  The Board will vote later this year on Remit 6:  One order of Ministry.  You can find more information on the Remits as


I would like to thank the board for their patience and support through my first year as Chairperson.  I also want to thank all of my church family for their faithfulness and support of First United Church over the past year.

 Respectfully submitted

 Sharon Budgell




 Minister’s Report


 “When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: “Blessed are …” Matthew 5:1-3a

 “We sing of a church seeking to continue the story of Jesus by embodying Christ’s presence in the world.” – from A Song of Faith, United Church of Canada Statement of Faith, 2006


In a year unlike any other, we, the body of Christ, have been blessed in ways we could never have imagined. And while we may now divide our lives into ‘before the fire’ and ‘after the fire’, God has continually been faithful in blessings that we might call ‘ordinary’.  And so I want to use the lens of blessing to reflect on the life and work of Fort McMurray First United Church.


Blessed are we … in our connections as a gathered community. In our before-and-after experience, worship has centred us. We have gathered to sing and pray, laugh and weep, to listen and speak and hold silence, to delight in conversations with Robbie the Dragon, to celebrate the sacraments of communion and baptism. We are blessed with five musicians as well as worship readers and lay leaders. With the exception of four weeks during the evacuation, our congregation worshiped every Sunday -- including the month of July, when we usually close. I believe it was essential that we continued to stay open: because even when the gatherings were small, even though so many of us had not yet returned, we continued to witness as the body of Christ, to worship on behalf of our whole congregation as a testament to God’s abundant and unending blessing. And we could not have done this without the help of our wider church family: Alberta and Northwest Conference who funded pulpit supply and Rev. Lloyd Lovett who led worship twice in the summer and once in the fall. (And you will hear more below about the generosity of our United Church of Canada family.)  We also are blessed in our electronic connections: through our weekly email and our website.


Blessed are we … in the children who are part of our congregation. The participation and presence of younger folk in worship is such a gift: in readings, in getting up close and personal with Robbie the Dragon, presenting the offering, taking part in the Communion Liturgy. Every Sunday they delight with God in lighting the Christ Candle and Four Directions Candles. Many of you haven’t seen it close up – but the candle lighting is a holy moment dancing with sometimes chaotic wonder. Our Sunday School is a blessing – as our children worship in their own space and way under the guidance and leadership of Sharon Budgell. And this past year our Sunday School has been blessed with the support of Andrew Waddington, Dorothy Parsons, Isabelle Doblanko and Janet Lowndes.


Blessed are we … in the mess. Messy Church continues as a once-a-month family service that is wonderfully supported by many. You can read more in the Messy Church report.


Blessed are we … in our connections as a scattered community. During the evacuation, even in the early hours, many of us connected by text, email and phone. I remember driving south and reading “safe” in response to my texts; and “safe” was the mantra that comforted me on that journey. During the exile and beyond, our congregation was scattered across Canada. Face-to-face connections were a blessing: I was able to visit some folk who were staying in the Edmonton area, and we held one memorable pot luck supper at St. Paul’s United Church who graciously provided space for us. We also experienced blessings as we worshiped with many different congregations across Canada during our time away.  I wonder about all the stories we shared and all the prayers that washed over us. And the Spirit flowed through technology that also helped us connect, through our website, email, Facebook, texts, phone calls.


Blessed are we … as a returned and returning community. A few memories of the return stay with me – and perhaps with you. Using water to name our laments and our joys in those early worship services in June and July. Our “Fort McMurray First United Church is Back” poster, and adding our names as we returned. James and Patricia Young – who were with us for a brief time before returning to Ontario, but were enthusiastic in their participation in our congregation.


Blessed are we … in the generosity of our neighbours. Our “When We Needed A Neighbour …” display in the Narthex is a testament to unexpected grace. Donations and offers of help began even when we were still away, beginning with an RV which became home to one of our members for a number of months. From the time that mail service resumed last June cheques and cards began to arrive. It was unbelievable and often overwhelming in those early days when barely a day went by without a delightful surprise in the mail box! And the most recent donation arrived in January! Some of the donations were specifically directed to those directly affected by the fire, and others to the everyday operations of the congregation. We also received summer camp spaces from Camp Whitney in Alberta, boxes of toys from Toronto, prayer shawls and hand-knitted items from places including Val D’or Quebec, P.E.I, Calgary, and Athabasca.


Blessed are we … in the generosity of our United Church of Canada family and in our wider church community. The United Church Wildfire Appeal has provided financial and recovery support to our congregation and our wider community. Since October, Diane Strickland, a recovery and compassion fatigue specialist from Calgary, has been spending one week a month in Fort McMurray. She has provided one-on-one counselling, prepared resources, offered workshops and made connections with other churches and organizations. I have also received much support from Diane as a ministry colleague. We have also been blessed by our connections with our wider United Church. It is my privilege to attend meetings of Yellowhead Presbytery with Alistair Mackay, to work with colleagues at Alberta and Northwest Conference, and serve on the General Council Executive. Conference President Paul Walfall and Executive Secretary Lynn Maki visited and worshiped with us last summer – they were such a gift, and we offer best wishes to Lynn who has now retired. We are also thankful to be working with Shannon McCarthy, Executive Secretary for Manitoba and Northern Ontario Conference. She and the Executive Secretary of Saskatchewan Conference are sharing Executive Secretary responsibilities for our conference, and Shannon is overseeing wildfire recovery initiatives.


Blessed are we … who mourn and struggle. The fire and its aftermath have meant loss for many in our community. We grieve the loss of two lives in a vehicle crash during the evacuation. We grieve the loss of homes and possessions and pets. We grieve the loss of a sense of safety. We grieve those members of our community who will never move back. We struggle with post-traumatic stress and compassion fatigue, the resurgence of depression and other mental illnesses, with receiving insurance coverage, and crises that surface and past traumas that resurface. Even approaching one year after the fire, the road to recovery is nowhere near over. However, we know, or live in hope that we will come to know, that God is faithful even in pain and fear; and that comfort and grace and love hold us even when we cannot see beyond our tears.


Blessed are we … in our mission. Our church building continues to be a welcoming space for many groups. We are blessed by the talents of Doreen Hussey and Dorothy Parsons in ensuring our Narthex is beautifully decorated throughout the seasons. Partnering with diverse groups can sometimes be a complex dance, but God works with us as we strive to be faithfully hospitable. We are blessed by the work of Alistair and Alison Mackay in coordinating our groups and donating their time to clean our building. You can read more about this in our Building Operations and Trustee report. This past year we have also lived out our mission by participating with the Salvation Army Angel Tag program, supported our local Food Bank, the Centre of Hope and the Soup Kitchen. We have also responded with a special offering taken for victims of a wildfire in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.


Blessed are we … in our relationship with Faith Presbyterian Church. Our joint services during Holy Week and Easter last year were, as always, rich, and also, the last services we had with Rev. Lisa Aide, who is now serving Pauline Presbyterian Church in Windsor, Ontario. We give thanks for the time she partnered with us. And we continued our relationship with Faith Church during Christmas Eve and Christmas services, and we look forward to working with new minister, Rev. Gabriel Snyman.


Blessed are we … in the relationship with other faith communities in Fort McMurray: through the Soup Kitchen with the Christian Ministerial, in particular with All Saint’s Anglican and St. Thomas Anglican Churches on Ash Wednesday; with Markaz Ul-Islam mosque – and it is important now more than ever to celebrate our friendships, as a church and individually, with our Muslim sisters and brothers.  


In so many ways we are blessed – and I know I have not named them all. I wonder, as you have read this report, if your own blessing experiences have come to mind. In this coming year we will be remembering some special anniversaries: the first anniversaries of the evacuation and return, and the 50th anniversary of First United Church. May we know that the love of our Creator continues to surround us, the mystery of the Spirit continues to move us, and the story of Jesus continues to be embodied in us as the body of Christ.


Respectfully submitted by Rev. Donalee Williams


2016 Right Relations Report


Working toward right relations with our indigenous sisters and brothers is an important part of the work of The United Church of Canada. And all communities of faith are called to take part in this work.


At First United Church we begin each service by “Naming the Territory” – stating that we are on the traditional lands of indigenous people in Treaty 8, and that we are all treaty people.


We also incorporate the four colours that are part of our United Church crest in our regular worship through fabric and the lighting of candles.


Congregations have also been asked to designate two people as right relations witnesses. Last year, Terry Hamilton agreed to be one of these people, however he has since moved from the community. So consider whether the Spirit is moving you to fill this role.


Respectfully submitted by Rev. Donalee Williams




Wider Church Report:

 Yellowhead Presbytery, Alberta and Northwest Conference, General Council

 “When we needed a neighbour, you were there”


2016 and our existence within the wider church all changed on that fateful day, May 3, 2016.

 Exodus: Billets were offered and accepted in Athabasca at the homes of Bruce Jackson & Cecile Fausek and Monica Rosborough, members of our Presbytery. Athabasca became Rev. Donalee’s sanctuary for the month of May as she toured Edmonton and Northern Alberta meeting members of our disparate community.

 Exile: Our friends in Presbytery and Conference were there for us individually and as a community during our evacuation. Conference agreed to cover our expenses during May as we struggled with members of our board and finance committee unable to meet. On Victoria Day, many of our congregation came to together at St. Paul’s United Church in Edmonton for a potluck. This was the first time many of us were able to come together and share our own tales of escape on that Tuesday evening and night.

 Return: Before our return, Rev. Donalee and Lynn Maki at Conference agreed that it was important that through the summer we meet as a congregation every Sunday even during her vacation time. We were blessed to welcome Lloyd and Linda Lovett for three weekends over the remainder of the year. We also welcomed Lynn Maki, Conference Executive Secretary and Paul Walfall, Conference President who joined with and encouraged us one weekend in July.

             We welcomed the daily trip to the mail box once mail delivery was resumed in our community. We received donations of money to share with our community, cards of encouragement from all provinces of Canada, knitting, toys and Christmas decorations and a banner that is proudly displayed in our sanctuary. We also received communications from a couple of churches in the US. 

            In October, Diane Strickland arrived for the first of her monthly visits to our community. Many within our church family, and outside in our community, have benefitted from her care and compassion.

             We have also requested and received support funding from the Conference wildfire fund to our church. This is described in more detail in the 2016 Finance Report and in our 2017 budget. These funds and much more was given by individuals, churches and UCWs from all across Canada.

 In other news: Yellowhead Presbytery met four times in 2016 (in Lamont, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove and Leduc): all of which were attended by one or both of Rev. Donalee and Alistair. Like our Unified Board, Presbytery has been voting on remits – although presbyteries vote on 8 remits while pastoral charges vote on 5. ( Because of the fire, First United Church has not been able to fulfil its offer to host presbytery, but hopefully that will be possible within the next year.

 Rev. Donalee continues to serve as the ANW Conference ordered representative on General Council Executive. She attended an electronic meeting of GCE at the end of April/beginning of May and an in-person meeting in Toronto in November. Because of this role she also attends twice-yearly meetings of the Conference Executive.

 Respectfully submitted by Rev. Donalee Williams & Alistair Mackay



Ministry and Personnel Report


 Greetings from your M&P committee.

 2016 will go down in all our memories as a year of significant challenge as well as triumph for both the congregation of Fort McMurray First United and the wider community of Wood Buffalo.

 Through 2016 our committee convened three times. We've been less active than is desired and also need to engage with the congregation for two more members to join Niola McLean and myself with Reverend Donalee.

 Our minister was extremely involved in the evacuation as she worked from the Athabasca United Church and then immediately returning to the community at the re-entry in early June. Those efforts demanded her time and talents which took away from her ability to take time for herself. We are hoping that 2017 with the monthly post-disaster trauma sessions being lead by Diane Strickland will ease some of the burden off our minister for emotional and spiritual support.

 As a committee, we want to get back to bimonthly meetings with Reverend Donalee providing a safe and secure opportunity to share any concerns of the paid staff, including Pauline Hamelin our church administrator. Please always feel free to approach either Niola or myself if you are looking to provide feedback to the paid staff or are interested in serving on the committee.




Mark Wyllie




2016 Space Sharing, Building and Trustee Report

 Space Sharing;

 At of the start of 2016, we had seven ongoing users of our building; Rehoboth Alliance, a youth focused non-profit organization, who use office space in our building, two churches; Apostolic Faith Mission, and Church of Christ and four twelve step groups; Daytime, Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday morning Alcoholics Anonymous. In March, we welcomed the Al Zahraa School who used our building on Saturday Afternoons.


In May, our building was unused as the community was evacuated. When we returned in June, the basement was used by Southern Baptist Disaster Relief group, part of Canadian Global Response, who volunteered to help in the return to our city. Our guests stayed in our building through June and into July. Our user groups slowly returned during the summer except for the Al Zahraa School. In October, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church started meeting in our sanctuary on Saturday mornings. We now have groups using our basement each weekday evening.

 2016 ended with our building use at close to full capacity. We also share our basement on an irregular basis to various cultural groups in our community as we, and our regular groups, can accommodate. 


 In March, Lenaco Homes started their demolition of the house on Fraser Avenue. The Municipality, who lease the land to us upon which our church built, had approved the use of our parking lot for laydown and construction support of the new apartment building. We worked closely with Lenaco Homes and our regular users to minimize the impact of the ongoing activities in our parking lot. This was a continuous challenge through 2016 and into 2017. Your trustees are Marlene Swain, Mark Wyllie and Alistair Mackay.


 As little money was available in 2016, no significant work was scheduled in the building. Following the return from the Wildfire, and with the increased number of user groups of our building, we requested and received a grant of $20000 for improvements to the facility. This work on painting, carpeting and plumbing is scheduled in 2017 and is hoped to be complete in time for our 50th anniversary celebration in April.

 Damage to the building from the wildfire and subsequent absence was minimal. Following the return, our insurance company arranged and paid for cleaning of the whole building by a restoration company. Many thanks to all those who gave of their time to work within the church.

 God bless, Alistair Mackay, Trustee


Sunday school Report 2016

 Sunday School continues with approximately 16 regular members.  There are usually between 4 to 14 children and youth in attendance.  Special occasions such as baptisms and holidays often bring additional children to our Sunday morning worship.

 I continue to lead most of the Sunday School worship. I am happy to announce that Andrew Waddington has also volunteered to lead the Sunday School worship on occasional Sundays as needed.  We also appreciate the assistance of all the parents and adults in the congregation that have offered their assistance and support over the past year.

 We continue to use the "Whole People of God" program which corresponds to the biblical theme of our church service and the church year.  The children participate in crafts, games and activities that help them understand the lesson in a fun and age appropriate manner.  I would also like to acknowledge that the youth in Sunday school often take on a helper role with the very young in the congregation.  Cookies and juice always go well with Sunday school and therefore on behalf of the children and youth,  I thank the congregation for their continued donations and support.


Respectfully submitted,

 Sharon Budgell



Worship Committee Report

The Worship Committee met in 2016 to plan services for Communion, Baptism,

 Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Backpack Blessing

 Sunday, Pet Blessing Sunday, and Blue Christmas.

 The Wildfire Evacuation made the Mother’s Day impossible to have at our

church. Upon return, it was decided that services would continue through July

 instead of our usual closure, with support from Presbytery clergy as well as Rev.

 Donalee postponing her holidays.

 Messy Church continued to be a great success in 2016. Thank you to Dorothy

 Parsons, Sharon Budgell, Rev. Donalee and many others who contributed time

 and food to this project.

 Thank you very much to Worship Committee members Isabelle Doblanko,

 Marleen Swain, and Sharon Budgell for their time spent planning and for

 assisting in the services.


Respectfully submitted by:

 Norma Jean Atkinson, Chair


 Musicians Report

Throughout 2016, musicians Marjorie Epp, Marlene Swain, Mark Wyllie, Kelvin

 Sawatzky, and Norma Jean Atkinson continued to donate their time and talent for

 weekly services and special services Good Friday, the Community Carol Sing-a-

 Long, Blue Christmas, and Christmas Eve, and particularly for the additional

 services in June, July, and August when there were some not back in the

 community and/or their homes.

 Thank you very much for sharing your time and talent. As well, thanks to

 Natasha Arthur and Joanna Torguson for their assistance when we needed help.


Respectfully submitted by:

 Norma Jean Atkinson, Co-ordinator




 Messy Church Report


Our Messy Church ministry continued to thrive in the past year – our third – as we continued to meet, usually on the first Wednesday of the month!

 In March, Sharon Budgell, Dorothy Parsons and Rev. Donalee Williams attended a Messy Fiesta at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Edmonton. Representatives from churches around the province attended the event – including many United Churches – looking for inspiration and support for their Messy Church ministries. Our group learned many interesting and fun things! We also connected with Rev. Heather Lidell, an Anglican Minister in Edmonton, who visited one of our Messy Church gatherings here in Fort McMurray last fall.

 Our Messy Church was on hiatus for several months following the fire. I still chuckle to remember all the crafts that were prepared for Messy Pentecost on May 4 – including paper flame hats!! Yes, that’s right! We relaunched our year in August by holding a Messy Church Olympics. We had games and races on the church lawn, a wonderful indoor picnic, and then big fun at the Borealis Park waterpark.

 Another highlight was our Messy Christmas when we imagined the local animals that would have been around the manger if Jesus had been born in Fort McMurray. Andrew Waddington made dozens of wooden animals which were painted in glorious hues and patterns – and some of them are now decorating the outside of the church. We also received a lovely greeting poster from a Messy Church at Trinity United Church in Kitchener, Ontario. You can check it out as well as other crafts and photos on our Messy Church board in the Narthex.

 This past year our Messy Church team bid farewell to Dorothy Parsons. We have been so blessed to have Dorothy as part of this ministry: she has been so generous in her offerings of crafting, organization, and planning skills, and has been a delight to work with. Thank you Dorothy!!

 We also thank Trixie Pollard and Andrew Waddington for their support in our craft preparation and planning. And we are looking for interested person/s to join Sharon Budgell and Rev. Donalee Williams as part of our planning team – talk to Sharon or Donalee if you would like to explore!

 We also thank the many individuals who have fed our Messy Church this past year, contributing so much delicious food! And we are so thankful for those who have helped with set up and clean up! 

 Messy Church is a vital part of our ministry in Fort McMurray. It is always good to be reminded that God is with us in the mess and chaos. And remember – it may be messy but it’s still church!

 Respectfully submitted by Rev. Donalee Williams





January 24


Ruby Echo Black


Cole Scott Andrews


Abigail Daria Noble


Griffin Kenneth Peterson


February 14


Anniston Joyce Lidstone


 April 3


Desiree Carolyn Mary Clarke


September 18


Manon Keith Sippadorn Naowakhun


Lilah Beth Nippard


Luke Sebastien Salang


 October 30


Carlie Cathrin LeBlanc


 December 13


Nolan Charles Hussey









July 29


Teresa Anne Kelly




December 30


Louise Margaret Cumberland






2016 Finance Report


In 2016, First United Church had a positive cash flow in our general account of $67,464. If we exclude Wildfire Fund donations and expenses, our cash flow was positive by $271.


Our local account started 2016 with a balance of $9810 and closed 2016 with a balance of $77274. Much of this is donations into our Wildfire Fund which is part of our general account.


Our 2016 income differed from budget significantly due to the direct and indirect results of the Wildfire and evacuation. Our local offering held up well against our 2016 budget. The Rainbow appeal, that was approved at our 2016 annual congregational meeting, was cut short by the wildfire and evacuation at 16% of plan. Our income from space sharing was close to plan as our occupancy increased after the return despite loss of over a month of income. This year we have received a cheque from our insurance company to cover “business interruption”.


Our expenses were below budget. Our payroll expenses in May were covered by Conference. Our utility and service cost for May were largely forgiven by our service providers. Our cost trimming approved at last year’s Annual Congregation meeting were successfully achieved. Unbudgeted expenses approved by the board were below 2% of 2016 budget.


At the end of the annual meeting, we will be asking for the approval of our 2017 operating budget. The goal is to continue to support full time paid accountable ministry in our community through 2017 and into subsequent years with the support of our Wildfire Fund and from the Wood Buffalo Wildfire appeal donations that are held by Conference. Our focus as a congregation needs to be to continue to support our church financially but help our neighbours, as we can, and our community to return as better than before our evacuation.


Your finance team comprises our treasurer, Niola McLean and envelope steward, Isabelle Doblanko. Thank yous go out to Rev. Donalee, Isabelle, Niola and Alison, our finance team in 2016.


Alistair Mackay






 2016 Wildfire Fund Report


With our return from the Wildfire evacuation, your board met and agreed to set up a Wildfire Fund within our General Account. The fund was to receive donations from external individuals, congregations and groups.


To date a $20000 grant was received from Conference funds to be spent on the building fixtures due to the high and growing utilization of the building by ourselves, other churches and other non-profit organizations. This is budgeted in 2017.


Also, a $15000 donation was received through the local Ministerial Association to support individuals and other non-profit organizations affected by the Wildfire. This is being proposed, approved and spent through the Board. The target would be to spend this by the end of 2017. This is included in the 2017 budget.


The remaining $36000 was received through others within our United Church family. Some of this was requested to be given to those within our church family who were especially impacted by the Wildfire. Much of the remaining donations were open to their use. Your board believe that this money should be stewarded over the next few years to ensure that we can maintain fulltime paid accountable ministry for our congregation and community. It will take some time for the traumatic effects of our exodus, exile and return from the wildfire to diminish.


In 2016, $71000 was received into our Wildfire Fund. $3800 was spent from the Wildfire Fund. An RV was also gifted to the church for use by a congregational member who lost their home to the Wildfire. The General account includes $67193 as of December 31, 2016.


In 2017, we are planning to spend $20000 on building fixture upgrades and $15000 on cash and material donations to individuals and non-profit organizations from the Wildfire Fund. A $20000 grant has been requested from Conference to support fulltime paid accountable ministry for our congregation. We are also planning to sell the RV donated to the church and add this to our Wildfire Fund.


Alistair Mackay








Envelope Steward’s Report 2016


 The identifiable giver contribution level breakdown for 2016 is as follows:






% of Offerings

                 Ø $5000+      






Ø $2000-$4999






Ø $1000-$1999





  7 * includes loose  

Ø $500-$999






Ø $200-$499






Ø $50-$199 






                 Ø $1-$49       












% of Offerings

                 Ø $5000+      






Ø $2000-$4999






Ø $1000-$1999






Ø $500-$999






Ø $200-$499






Ø $50-$199 






                 Ø $1-$49       






Ø Loose $ 1734







Total Offerings for 2016: $86053


This includes Local, M&S, Housing, Initial, and Rainbow fundraiser


Total income for 2016: $117738


This also includes space sharing, MS grant, GST rebate, and wildfire relief.


NOTE:  We received generous donations from across Canada, and even from the United States totalling $33125 for wildfire relief.


 Total Offerings for 2015: $135675

 This includes local, M&S, housing, initial, celebration jar and United Way.

 This income also includes space sharing, and grants.



Mission & Service Fund Report


In 2016 (2015), $6433.20($7599.80) was donated to the United Church’s Mission & Service Fund.  We have sent $6445 to the Mission & Service fund for 2016.

 There were 26 identifiable contributors to the Mission & Service Fund in 2016, with 19 contributors in 2015. Thank you to all who donated to the Mission & Service Fund in 2016.



 Housing Fund Report

   In 2009, First United Church set up a Housing Fund with the ultimate goal to purchase a manse for the minister called to serve First United Church.

   With the arrival of Rev. Donalee in 2010, First United Church agreed to loan our minister $60,000 from the Housing Fund towards purchase of a home in the community.

  The Housing Fund will continue to be active with offering identified to “Housing” on our envelopes being so directed. In 2016, $110.65 was raised for the Housing Fund. At the end of 2016, there is $10924.75 in the fund.

   Thank you to all who donated to the First United Church Housing Fund in 2016.

   God bless,

 Isabelle Doblanko

 Envelope Steward















Outreach Appeal



Tennessee appeal




Local Offering






ATCO & Income tax refund







Space Sharing






Special Appeal



Easter Breakfast

United Way



Bottle return



Fund raising



Rainbow appeal














Office supplies






TOTAL administration




ADP Payroll Service Charge







Today newspaper advert cancelled

Bank Charge




Cleaning supplies







Faith Lift & Tennessee appeal

Fire Fund





Centre of Hope- winter clothing purchase

Personal Gift



RV Expenses



Shopping Cards



TOTAL Fire Fund




Gifts Given



May / June salary











Building Repairs



electrical work

Alarm monitoring & PM



Garbage pickup



Dumpster cancelled & removed

CASH FLOW 2016 (page 2)




Small Equipment Purchase



floor cleaner batteries, screen, round table and office chair

Maintenance supplies



TOTAL Maintenance




Messy Church Expenses



including symposium in Edmonton

Minister Allowance


11 months only; May covered by Conference

Education and Books












TOTAL Minister Allowance




Par Service Charge






Minister 11 months; Secretary 8 months













Vacation pay



TOTAL Payroll




Presbytery assessment




Property taxes (LIP)










CPP Contributions



EI Premiums



Revenue Canada












Gas & Oil






Water & Sewage



TOTAL Utilities









Materials and books






TOTAL Worship