St. Peter’s Lutheran Church
This picturesque little church sits on a knoll amongst rolling prairie, a visible tribute to the pioneers who, in spite of many hardships, provided a house of worship for their families.
St. Peter’s was built in the NE quarter of section 20, township 33, range 15, west of the 4th meridian. It is located four miles south of the Hamlet of Scapa and four miles west.
The story of how the church came to be is unique and makes the building well worth preserving. The church was built by a Lutheran congregation in the Wetaskiwin area in 1911. The congregation was known as the Evangelical Lutheran Freidens German Church. By 1920 the church was disbanding and wanted to dispose of their building. A newly formed congregation of Dowling Lake, later changed to Scapa, heard about the vacant church in Wetaskiwin. Preparations began to acquire and move the building to a site that would best serve the parishioners.
Late in the winter of 1920-21, Pastor Zaetschky and six men from the congregation traveled to Wetaskiwin. With the help of a contractor, the steeple and roof were removed. The walls and floor were cut into 8’ sections. All the pieces were loaded onto a flatcar and transported to Craigmyle, by rail. The pieces were unloaded and transported to the church site by horse drawn sleigh.
In April 1921 the foundation was poured and the reconstruction began. Undaunted by the problems of getting the sections to fit back together, the determined group soon had their house of worship back together. It was great day on May 15, 1921 when families came from all around to attend the dedication services at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. The reconstruction took less than six weeks.
The St. Peter’s congregation flourished for many years. In the early years, St. Peter’s was an area hub not only for worship but baptisms, weddings, funerals, and as a meeting place. It was an area landmark. Services were conducted in German, the language of most of the settlers in the area. In 1937 English services were also conducted. However by 1971 when the 50th anniversary was observed, the trend towards centralization had begun to take its toll on attendance and membership. Regular worship services were discontinued in 1978. The little church was not abandoned as once or twice each year special services are held as well as a few weddings and funerals are conducted annually.
A group of dedicated, area volunteers looks after the upkeep and maintenance today. Most of the original furnishings that came with the building from the Wetaskiwin site are still being used today. The church had a facelift back in the 50’s but was restored to the original cedar siding in 1994. The original bell was discovered in the Wetaskiwin area in 1995. It was installed in St. Peter’s in 1995. The roof was re-cedar shaked in 2008. The original pump organ was restored in 2008. The steeple windows were replaced in 2005 and 2014.
The church and the cemetery are in excellent condition. Visitors from all over the world come to see it. There is a guest book in the church entry that people can access and sign. One traveler stopped in and looked in the outside window and said, “You can vision the people sitting in the seats worshipping.” This is a good representation of what St. Peter’s is all about.