Scapa’s St. Peter’s Lutheran Church celebrates 100 years

Written by Stu Salkeld

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church near Scapa, Alta. is marking its 100th summer in the area with a much-anticipated get-together on Aug. 7. The church is looking proper as it stood on Fri. July 9. ECA Review/T.Huxley

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.

Interesting history

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.

An old image of the opening of St. Peter’s
church. Over the winter of 1920-21,
parishioners dismantled the steeple and
cut the church into eight-foot sections for
loading onto railway flatcars. It was shipped