The Beginnings of IVCF in Saskatchewan
My introduction to IVCF (Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship) was in 1942 at the Regina Normal School. The then principal of Canadian Bible College came to tell us about this organization whose purpose was to provide fellowship, Bible study, and prayer opportunities for students. A group was organized but I remember little else of that time.
Arriving at the University of Saskatchewan in the fall of 1945 I found a small group on campus nurtured by IVCF staff member, Margaret Fish. We were also visited by Stacey Woods, an Australian, who had a great deal to do with getting Inter-Varsity organized on Canadian campuses. Later, we had Wilber Sutherland, an alumnus of UBC’s IVCF group, as our staff member.
Our activities included weekly Bible studies and prayer on campus, and occasional Fellowship meetings off-campus at local churches or in homes of some of our supporting families. They included sing-songs, Bible studies, presentations by visiting pastors or our staff member.
Later, four of us formed the “VCF Male Quartet” which provided musical entertainment at some of the functions. In the spring of our last year, our Quartet, consisting of Cameron Kirk, Erwin Ziolkowski, Louis Knoll, Julian Grymaloski, and Jim Watt (our preacher) , toured the province, visiting churches which had invited us through the good offices of some of our VCF’ers. I guess it was intended as a PR effort on behalf of the U of S Intervarsity Group.
What happened to our alumni?
Some enrolled in the newly founded U of S School of Medicine and became doctors — Art Hindmarsh, Ernie Schmidt, Peter Siemens and Fred Cenaiko.
Others became Missionaries — Muriel Clemenger, Jean Palmquist, Louis and Doris Knoll, to India; Ross and Eileen Douglas to Brazil.
A number went into Education — Wes and Ann Kruger, Julian Grymaloski, Wayne Hanna, Margaret McKay, Margaret and Erwin Ziolkowski.
Jim Watt and Bruce Herrod went into the Ministry; Cam Kirk and Beno Kopp went into Engineering.
What part did IVCF play in our lives?
For us, who had come from a variety of church backgrounds ranging from fairly closed and narrow to the more conventional, the group provided spiritual support and fellowship in our new academic environment which many of our elders regarded as a threat to our carefully nurtured faith. More importantly, the VCF staff emphasized the importance of taking personal responsibility for our spiritual growth through regular prayer and Bible study — they called it “QT” – Quiet Time. Certainly, our concept of the nature of the “Church” was extended.
VCF staff emphasized the importance of taking personal responsibility for our spiritual growth
Finally, there was an emphasis on cultivating a “mission view” by promoting our involvement in such IVCF activities as “Campus in the Woods”, a summer camp for college students; Pioneer Camps, for high school students; and a periodic international mission emphasis conference called “Urbana”.
And, lest we forget, some us found our life’s partner at Intervarsity.