Church ‘built on Alberta beef’ seeks public’s help

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Airdrie United Church is seeking help to uncover the mystery of a decades-old cattle brand registered to the church.

Rev. Karen Holmes, the church’s minister, came across the brand certificate when going through old church records for a 115th anniversary event being held this month.

“Some folks say we were the first church in Canada to have a registered brand. Others think we may be the only church with its own brand,” said Holmes. “We’re hoping someone out there knows for sure.”

The brand — made up of the letters AUC and to be used on the animal’s left rib — was likely first registered in the 1960s. It was renewed at Alberta Agriculture’s Office of Brand Recorder in Stettler in 1984 and appears to have lapsed at some point in the 1990s.

According to Dan McKinnon, a retired rancher and old-time church member, cattle were an important income source for the pioneer church, which is older than Airdrie itself. The church bought feedlot calves from members who had cattle, and several farmers fed them for the church, including the McKinnons and other founding families in the area. When the cows were sold, the church received the money.

“Turns out we built our church on Alberta beef,” said Holmes. “It’s a great reminder that we have deep agricultural roots, and it’s such a great way to raise funds in cattle country.”

Anyone with information on the brand is asked to call Holmes at 403-519-4955 or stop by the church.

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