1974 History of the Elk Point Pastoral Charge
A HISTORY OF_ELK POINT UNITED CHURCH
Prepared by Mrs. B. Sumpton and Mrs. Ila Borowsky
The first record of any organized religious work in the Elk Point district is of a Ladies' Aid group organized about 1909 in the Richland School area under the leadership of Mrs. J.B. Caskey, Mrs. Lark Howard, Mrs. Jim Hunter and other pioneer women.
The Lutheran church had a resident minister, Mr. John Lorentzen, who preached at Glendon, Lea Park and occasionally here.
The area was served spasmodically by various students from the Presbyterian and Methodist denominations, among whom were a Mr. Leber, two different Thompsons, and others of where the record is lost. When they preached here the services were held in the old community hall, which was destroyed by fire in the winter of 1921-1922.
A small church was built on the site our old church during 1921. It was constructed of native lumber and largely by volunteer labor. This building served until the spring of 1928 when it was destroyed by fire. A new church was built on the same site. In 1927 the manse was built. Among those who built these two buildings were George Shortridge, Helge Heselgren, Rev. Harry Day, Orlo Fish, George Bartling, Jesse Pool, and Grant Arnold.
Rev. Mr. McCusker of Onion Lake supplied services here at times during 1922 to 1924. He was an elderly man, quite deaf, but very earnest.
Our first resident minister was Rev. James Seaton who stayed about two years. He had been an airforce pilot and had been severely injured in a crash.
He was followed by Rev. Rog Smith. He and his bride were from England. They were both dedicated Christian workers. They organized Girl Guides and Boy Scout group visited everyone In the district, helped in all community projects, and were respected and loved by all. They left to do misslonary work in British Guiana where Mr. Smith died of typhoid.
Mr. Whaley was the next incumbent, from 1931 to 1934. He had the first milch goats seen in the district. He had a fine family of children and was an enthusiastic Long Lake Fisherman.
In 1934 Rev Sam Marshall came to Elk Point. He was a real builder, a good visitor and excellent preacher and was thoroughly liked by the whole community. He organized the choir, equipped the church with pews and pulpit, did a lot of cement around the front of the church itself, and raised money for church purposes
by several successful carnivals. He stayed for five years and greatly missed when he left. Mrs. Marshall had a beautiful soprano voice which she used to improve greatly the musical service of worship.
Mr. Marshall was succeeded by Rev. C. R. Corcoran. He was in ill health much of the time. Mrs. Corcoran was an ardent church worker.
In 1941 Rev. A.D. Pringle was our minister. He stayed for six years. He was elderly, a keen curler, and was largely instrumental along with David Nelson in getting the sport of curling under way in Elk Point. His wife was an accomplished soprano soloist.
Rev. W.N. Blackmore served as pastor from 1947 to 1949 when he accepted a call to the Vermilion charge.
During the next two years the church was supplied spasmodically from St Paul by Rev. Russel Beairsto, and Rev. F.J. Fee. Then we had a resident lay preacher Mr. Robert Smith. He was an earnest Christian worker and died shortly after an evening service with a heart attack.
Our good friend, Rev. Harry Day, Anglican minister, filled in for us many times when no minster of our own church was available.
In 1952 Mr. and Mrs. Wellwood Adam came to Elk Point from England and gave this congregation wonderful spiritual leadership until 1956. He was a lay preacher when he came and left us to complete his studies at St Stephens College. He was ordained from there in due course.
From 1956 to 1958 Rev. Ted Eskdale was our minister also serving St. Paul. During his ministry the Church Hall was completed in Oct. 1957.
During the summer of 1959 Don Burden carved as student
minister, after whom we were fortunate to secure the services of Rev. Carlton Mll1er, a young McGill graduate who did an excellent job of rebuilding on our congregation. He lived in St. Paul but served Elk Point. He was the first to insist on our trying the sector plan which has proved such a help to the church. _
In 1960 Rev. Ken Morris became our minister. He put deep roots down in the hearts of this congregation and is greatly missed since he accepted the charge at Killam 1962. Rev. D. Edwards came in August.
In 1957 the pressing need for more Sunday School room decided the congregation to build a church school hall. A commodious building was accordingly erected on a site secured on Second Street North. This was also used by the Women's Association for banquets, young people's work and during two years for worship as the congregation had completely outgrown the older building. In 1961 the old two-room school building next to the hall was acquired to furnish extra Sunday School space. It was used until the fall 0f 1970 when the Sunday School moved into the Church Hall. From them on the building was used by the D.C.W. as a Rummage Store.
On January 22,1961, it was suggested a new church be built and on July 21 a meeting was held to discuss plans. In the spring and early summer of 1962, a new sanctuary was built immediately east of the hall and connected to it. It was dedicated November 7,1962.
In 1962 Rev. David Edwards became our minister and served the Elk Point Pastoral Charge faithfully for seven years. He was active with young people and was Scout Master for some time. He married Dr. Jan MacLean during his stay in Elk Point. She was a welcome addition to the medical staff.
In 1969 Rev. Brian Hunter became our minister and served us faithfully for four years. His wife, Eileen, was a great help as she G did all the church typing. Rev. Hunter had taken courses in counseling and was a great comfort to the many folks who were in need of advice and
counselling. Rev. Hunter was very interested in the young people of our community.
In 1973 Rev Sidney Vincent came to Elk Point from Ocean Falls. He was active in the community. He taught ceramics to Further Education Classes and substituted on various occasions at the High School level. Mr. Vincent was also a very capable horticulturist as you will note when you view the Elk Point Church lawn and flowers.
A History of GLENDON Church
I will try and tell you a few things about the churches in Glendon and district from the twenties and on. (My late husband, John, came to Glendon in Dec.1930 from South Dakota. Maynard, our oldest son, and I came the following April. We went back to North Dakota in Dec. 1931 but returned to Glendon Nov. 1934. So I don't know too much about the churches before then, but I talked to some of the Senior Citizens and learned a few things.
The Lutheran Church was the first church built in Glendon. lt was built in 1930 and 31. It was dedicated in 1931. Before the church was built services were held at the school, located one and a half miles south and west of town. People from different denominations attended. A manse was built shortly after the church. It is now the home of Mr.& Mrs. L.F. Krawchuk.
The minister, Rev. Laurentzen lived at Elk Point and served Glendon for eighteen years. He also served Flat Lake and Lea Park. For transportation he used horses. He had to stay over and make the return trip the next day. In the later twenties he had a car but was not able to use it in the winter. He came once a month. Rev. Laurentzen passed away sometime between 1932 and 1934.
A little log church was built at Flat Lake about the same time as the Glendon church was built. The Flat Lake Church still stands but has not been used for some time.
I remember the first time I went to the Glendon Church. It was in the spring of 1931.The congregation put on a picnic for the church and Sunday School. It was to have been held in the church yard, but as so often happens at picnics, it rained, so it was held in the church. The windows and doors were not yet put in, so it was rather breezy. Almost everyone drove horses in those days, so there were always blankets to be found. They were hung over the doors and some of the windows. It was rather Chilly but even so wo had a good! time together. The Sunday School put on a program which we all enjoyed.
Rev. Laurentzon was there and gave short sermon. He came all the way from Elk Point not an easy trip at that time, all dirt roads. Our roads have changed a lot since then. Very few of the older members are living now. Rev. Laurentzen held services at different other points too, but not regularly. Some of the first church officers were: Sven Ulland, Thorvold Sather, Lars Mickelson, Andrew Mickelson, Karl Fonkalrud (still living). The ministers that served were: Rev. Laurontzen, Rev. Stolee, Rev, A. Holm, Rev. L.M. Hanson, Rev. R. Dole Melsather, Rev. Berge, Rev. H. Olsen.
A ladies Aid was organized some time before 1922. They worked toward the building of the church and manse. They put on suppers and sales of goods made by the members. They made clothing, quilts and fancy work. These were auctioned off, usually the same evening as the supper was held.
I'll never forget those suppers. Everyone pitched in to help, not just the women but the men also. Everyone had a good time. There was good fellowship between us all. Ladies Aid meetings were held once a month in the homes. I was looking over some old minute books the other night and noticed that the men had their say at the meetings', also. We a1so bad quilting bees and sewing bees. Those were held at the homes. We would start in the morning and work all day.
A Sunday School was organized before the church was finished. Mrs. Ed Christopherson was the first superintendent. Sunday School was held in her home until the church was built , Children from different denominations were enrolled. This Sunday School kept on until 1913.
There was also a choir and Young Peoples’ League. The last Lutheran service was held Sept.1951.
An Anglican minister Rev. Docker held a few services. The United Sunday School was organized by Mrs. Irene Arsenault and Mrs. Philip Young.
The United Church Congregation bought the church property in 1966. A lot of improvements have been made since. I was going to bring things up to date but the history would be the same as Elk Point in that we had the same ministers; Rev. Eskdale; Rev. Miller; Rev. Morris, Rev. Edwards; Rev. Hunter; Rev. Vincent, were among these.
(prepared by Mrs. Astrid Mustad)
A History of Rife Church
The Holy Trinity
With settlement of every community in Western Canada, came various religious denominations and eventually church buildings to house the worshipers. Rife became known as the “Holy Trinity” when three church buildings within a mile, had been erected to serve the needs of the people.
One cannot write about one of these churches without mentioning the others as in many instances they are tied together.
The first built was the present United Church. In early 1930’s Canon Browning retired from his parish in England and came out to the Rife District to join his son John S. Browning. Soon after his arrival he began conducting services in the Rife school and at Flat Lake. His former parish in England sent him a gift of money which Canon Browning expressed the wish to build a small church. Unfortunately, it was not long before Canon Browning took ill and died. As there was no cemetery at Rife, he was buried by Rev. Duclos in the United Church Cemetery in Bonnyville.
John Browning saw to it that the little church was completed on the plot of land which was donated for the purpose by Maurice Destrube. After completion, the Anglican bishop of Edmonton refused to accept the little church, as there was no resident Anglican minister in the area or near enough to serve the little church. Mr. Browning has stated that he did not wish to keep the church as a private chapel. He asked the Rev. Duclos to officiate at a dedication opening of the church. He was assisted by Henry Bourgoin of Bonnyville and the little church received the name of “The Browning Memorial Church” in 1932.
However, all was still not well. The Anglican Bishop Burgett was somewhat annoyed at the turn of events, but nevertheless, both Anglican and United congregations were served by the church. All went quite amicably until a chicken supper was served in the church. Such suppers and dancing had previously been held in the schoolhouse. Mr. Browning was quite upset that his little church was being used for such ‘carryings-on’.
A group of Anglican worshippers, Mrs. Thurston, Lloyd Hill, Mrs. Pevensey and others, formed a building committee to see to the erection of another church building in the true Anglican style, complete with leaded glass windows and gothic doors. In 1936 on the high wooded ground on the Destrube farm near the main road the St. John the Baptist Church was built. Volunteer help from both the Anglican and United Church parishioners and the aid of two paid carpenters resulted in the completion of the church within a short period of time. Several Anglican churches in England gave generous financial help. This, along with the voluntary help, resulted in the completion of the church and it was furnished with pews, lectern, communion rail and organ. Bishop Burgett consecrated the new church. Along with local Anglicans, worshippers came from St. Paul, Bonnyville, Therien, Flat Lake, Glendon, Hoselaw, and Gurneyville. During the summer months the little church proved too small and folding chairs were purchased and placed in the aisle and the porch. Services were held monthly, and Bishop Barfoot visited four times a year.
To complete the Holy Trinity, a tiny Roman Catholic Church was built on a hill about a mile and a half from the corner of the other two churches. Mrs. George Destrube, with financial help from France and from her father was instrumental in having this little church built for the Roman Catholic congregation. Because this church was built so very close to the road it became necessary to move it. In 1963, when the present Highway 28 was built, St Ann’s church was moved to Bonnyville where it now serves as a chapel for the Senior Citizens.
As people of communities come and go, and settlers retire or move away, so the services of the community become obsolete. Following the death of Mrs. Maurice Destrube in 1947, the Anglican Church lacked leadership. Bishop Barfoot, who had been appointed Primate of Canada could no longer oversee the little country church. The Anglican Synod in Edmonton seemed to lack interest and found it difficult to maintain services. It was not the lack of a congregation, but the lack of a priest, that the doors of the Anglican Church closed. Early in 1959, a group of Anglicans in St. Paul wished to have the church moved to serve their needs. Without waiting final sanction of the bishop, they moved the Anglican church from our community, to leave us an empty space and a small cemetery.
The one remaining member of the Holy Trinity, the Browning Memorial Church, still serves the community. It is a monument to its pioneer founders of all religious denominations. It too, has not been without its problems. In 1971 it was plagued with vandalism and was robbed of its organ. By the kindness of Glendon congregation, a pump organ was loaned to Rife. Then with the installation of electric power in 1974, the Rife congregation was grateful for the gift of an electric organ from the Elk Point Congregation. In June of 1974, Canon Browning was remembered in a Commemorative Ceremony and a plaque was hung in the church to remember its Founder.
(prepared by Mrs. Kissel)