St. Peter’s Lutheran Church at Scapa was the site of a marvellous turn-out for the church’s 100-year celebration on Aug. 7.
“This is despite the planning committee not knowing for sure if a large event would even be allowed until the Province lifted the COVID-19 restrictions on July 1,” noted Les Stulberg, one of the organizers and a nearby resident.
Once the go-ahead was granted, the committee had to work hard to spread the word about the milestone event.
“Organizers anticipated an attendance in the neighbourhood of 125 people. However, the attendance was overwhelming with more than 230 registered in the guest book,” said Stulberg. “Guests came from B.C., Saskatchewan and various locations across Alberta.
“One person who attended brought a guest from Vietnam with him. Many of the guests also had a direct connection to the church, with several being second generation members of the founding families. There were folks in attendance that were baptized at St. Peter’s in the 1920s and 1930s and they were recognized,” he added.
“The oldest former church member attending was a 100-year-old lady from Hanna, Hilda Diegel. Other attendees included many family members of the generations that followed and a large number of those attending had family members buried at St. Peter’s cemetery.”
Stulberg said that many of the people who returned for the centennial service commented on how happy they were that the event was organized and celebrated.
“They appreciated all the work the volunteers had done to prepare and were thrilled with the 100-year history book that was available that day,” he said, adding that most also praised the local volunteers who have kept the church in such good condition and have cared for the cemetery and church grounds.
“’Thank you for preserving our history’ was the common theme. There were lots of ‘thank yous’ heard that day.”
Stulberg said that for him personally, it was heart-warming to see so many people return for the centennial celebration and see many family generations connect again.
“I was happy to have had many members of my family attend as well, including my two grandchildren which were the sixth generation of Stulbergs to attend services at St. Peter’s.”
He said he believes it is important to mark milestones like this because St. Peter’s played a role in so many people’s lives.
“In those early years the church was a focal point of the community. The faith of pioneers along with the fellowship of their neighbours saw them through the difficult times,” he explained.
“With no modern communication devices like telephones, computers, televisions, texting, etc. in the early years it was important to connect with family, friends and neighbours each week at church.
“This church is well-known for its unique history and since it has been so well preserved it is a proud moment to celebrate a 100-year history and invite everyone back to remember their roots.”
Stulberg said that one of the stand-out moments of the day was having Pastor Colin Millang, who most recently served St. Peter’s for the past seven years, return from Sherwood Park to conduct the service and be joined by Pastor Shane Hein and Pastor Kate Zaiser.
Rev. Hein is the pastor of the Lutheran church in Medicine Hat and has deep roots at St. Peter’s.
“Many members of the Hein family attended church there and are laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery. Pastor Hein did a reading of scripture in both German and English,” said Stulberg.
“The German (part) paid tribute to the early history of the church when all services were conducted in German. Rev. Zaiser, pastor of the Lutheran church at Standard, also did a reading of scripture.
“She is the granddaughter of Pastor Irvin Hohm who was popular minister who served St. Peter’s in the 1950s and is laid to rest at St. Peter’s cemetery.”
The centennial history book just made available that day would round out the highlights of the celebration, said Stulberg.
“The book includes both the history from the first 50 years captured in a booklet made at that time plus the history of the last 50 years complete with many photos to completely represent the 100-year history of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church,” he said.
He added that the book was well-received, in fact so well received that it sold out in 48 hours.
“Therefore, the history book committee has decided to do a second printing in September.”
Anyone wanting a copy has the opportunity to order one by contacting Les Stulberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or Dean Viste at firstname.lastname@example.org.