Methodist Church. Photo submitted by Craig Baird.

Methodist Church. Photo submitted by Craig Baird.

History Column: First Churches in Wetaskiwin

As soon as settlers arrived in the Wetaskiwin area in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they wanted to set up a church for themselves. One of the first churches to be set up was in 1894 when the New Sweden Mission Church was created. At the time, pastors were typically just the men in the area, acting as pastors in their own homes on a rotating basis.

In July 1896, the men came together to build a church that was 42 feet long and 25 feet wide, made with hand-hewn hand-trimmed logs.

The first Scandinavian Baptist Church was established in 1893 by C.O. Quist. In 1900, in the Quist home, the church was officially organized and was the first in Alberta and only the second in Canada. Congregation members came from 40 kilometres around, with 32 charter members of the church. Members came from Meeting Creek, East Battle Lake, South Crooked Lake, Nashville and Wetaskiwin.

One of the most important members of that church was N.J.L. Bergen, who came out to the area in 1899 courtesy of the Manitoba Baptist Women’s Mission Society. He also took up a homestead and it was on that homestead the first official church for the congregation was built and named Enon Heights. Baptisms were held at nearby Enon Lake. Bergen would also help get the Ebenezer Baptist Church built in Wetaskiwin in 1900.

In 1893, the first church to be built in Wetaskiwin was built with Reverend John Morrow overseeing the congregation. It was built at the corner of Alberta and Lorne Street and was used by the Methodists and was often called the Union Church. The Methodists would build their own church in 1895 as their congregation was beginning to expand.

In July 1896, near Wetaskiwin, the First German Baptist Church was organized in an open air meeting. By the following year their church was built and put into use. The St. John’s Lutheran Church was also organized near the turn of the century. In 1893, the first services were held in homes of the area by Pastor Pempiet.

In 1899, the St. John’s Congregation adopted a constitution and a church was organized, with their first church being built that same year, the first just west of Wetaskiwin.

Information comes from Siding 16.

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-Craig Baird