In 2008, St. Peters Anglican Church officially closed its doors.
After decades of hard work and effort into keeping the church alive, the parish had no choice but to close the doors down. According to the Bashaw and District, Over 100 Years of Memories book (available at the Bashaw Museum), the issue is one that many rural churches face; low attendance, lack of young adults and the biggest issue of no funds made operations near impossible.
The year 1995 was a turning point for the congregation, seeing that Alix’s St. Pancras and Ponoka’s St. Mary’s were unable to support a full time minister, the three joined efforts to share in the minister’s salary. The churches’ minister resided in Ponoka and served all three.
The idea isn’t a new one, indeed, that’s how the church started out with Rev. Oswin Chreighton in its first days.
The parish did work through a variety of options to see the building succeed, which included renting out the building to the Generations Daycare in 2003. This was a good solution for the church, with the rental revenue helping to pay the heating bills.
“This turned out to be a good decision and enabled the parish to continue on with services for a few more years,” states the Memories book.
However, that was only enough to give the church a few more years of life and activity. In June 2008 the church closed its doors.
The building has seen a recent breath of life with the purchase of the church and the Whitebrush School behind it in July 2016. It’s believed Whitebrush School was actually moved behind the church sometime in the 1950s and was used for classes for some time in preparation for the completion of the older Bashaw School.
There aren’t too many activities in the church these days, however, the Meeting Place Coffee roasters folks did hold a Christmas Eve singalong, plus the church was opened to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. The working church bell was rung 100 times, a significant reminder of the impact of the First World War.
One point the Memories book takes special note of is the tireless efforts of Phyllis Holt (nee Raemer). Not only was she the dedicated organist for 75 years, but her parents were involved with the inception of the building itself.
This is the final piece in the series related to St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Bashaw.