It’s not often you see 100 year anniversaries celebrated in Alberta, but one church community in the County of Stettler is gearing up to do so. St. Peter’s Lutheran Church at Scapa, Alta. is marking its 100th summer in that area with a much-anticipated get-together Aug. 7.
Church member and volunteer Les Stulberg stated the COVID-19 pandemic loomed over the congregation’s 100th anniversary plans all this year, but with the provincial government lifting restrictions July 1, the party is now on.
“It’s been in the planning stages for some time,” said Stulberg by phone July 8.
Stulberg stated the community was really happy to hear they’d be able to have an in-person event for the momentous celebration because virtual events over the internet really seem to lose their power.
Stulberg stated St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, which has been declared a historic site, has quite an interesting history, as the church was originally built in Wetaskiwin in 1911 but within 10 years the congregation disbanded and mostly returned to the United States.
At that time, Scapa didn’t exist, and in fact there wasn’t even a rail line in the area. However, Rev. Julius Zaetschky travelled through the area holding Lutheran services in homes.
The reverend heard St. Peter’s was vacant, so he made arrangements to move the building to what was called the Dowling Lake area at that time.
A group of men went to Wetaskiwin and disassembled the church, including cutting the steeple off, and moved it south where the parts were picked up by volunteers in the Craigmyle area.
The parts were taken to the Dowling Lake area and reassembled in April, 1921, the volunteers likely oblivious that the church would stand in that spot for a century.
The first service was held in May, 1921.
St. Peter’s was closed to regular services in 1978 but still holds special celebrations at Christmas and also plays host to events like weddings and funerals.
Over the years volunteers have been instrumental in keeping St. Peter’s looking great, including recent restoration of the cedar siding and repair of the leaky steeple.
Stulberg said the nearby Hanna Lutheran church community did the best they could to get through the pandemic by holding online services and were able to reach members effectively.
During the pandemic, Christmas services at St. Peter’s had to be cancelled, along with weddings and other gatherings.
Stulberg stated the celebration will be a one-day event Sat., Aug. 7 at the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church grounds near Scapa.
He said the schedule calls for a church service at 2 p.m. followed by lunch, fellowship and visiting. Plus, volunteers hope to have a history booklet available on the church’s 100th anniversary and tours of the church itself.
Past Rev. Colin Millang is planning to attend the celebration.
The event is casual and no invites are required. Volunteers pointed out the events open to anyone who wishes to attend.
The event is free of charge and there will be lots of seating for everyone, but people who prefer their own lawn chairs may want to bring those along.
Those looking for more information about the event can contact volunteer chair Dean Viste through email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stulberg stated St. Peter’s Lutheran Church’s solitary dignity gives its community powerful feelings of comfort. “It’s just sort of a pride for our community,” he said.
Noting many members of his own family reside in the St. Peter’s cemetery Stulberg added, “It seems like it goes back so far in our own family. It has a lot of meaning for me.
“It’s a beautiful, quiet, peaceful spot down there.”
St. Peter’s Lutheran Church is located south of Endiang; use Sec. Hwy. #855, and the church is located to the east at the intersection of Twp. Rd. #334 and Range Rd. #154 at Scapa.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter