“And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:20
As Jesus spoke to His disciples and commissioned them to go and minister, so our forefathers heard Christ’s message and came ministering to us.
Now one hundred years later we look back at our past, and for some of us it means learning for the first time how our congregation came into being, and for others it brings back memories of its early life.
Just when the first Evangelical ministers began preaching services in South Algona, cannot be determined definitely. It is known that before the Evangelicals began a work, the Methodist Church held services in a log church on a side hill across the road from the farm know for many years as the Wm. Thom farm. Because of that church, the hill where it stood was commonly known as “The Church Hill”. The Methodist work ceased when the denomination was no longer able to provide German speaking people of the community.
The first Evangelical ministers to serve the people in South Algona were stationed at Rockingham. The pioneers report that the Evangelicals held their first services in the log church which was no longer used by the Methodists. The first records the congregation preserved indicate the Evangelicals built a log church on the northeast corner of what is now the Cemetery site. This church was built in 1880. Who the minister was at that time was never stated, but records of the Rockingham circuit indicate a Rev. C.R. Brown served that field from 1880-1884. His predecessor was Rev. D. H. Brand, so it seems reasonable to assume that Rev. Brand would have held services in the said Methodist church in the late 1820’s and laid foundations that led to the building of the Evangelical church n 1880. Trees must have been trees at that time for eight logs provided sufficient height for a wall. The roof was a scoop roof.
In 1885 South Algona was placed on the Golden Lake Circuit. Geographically, this was much nearer, but the ministers still had the Bonnechere River as a barrier to travel. It is said those hardy pioneer preachers often negotiated crossings in hollowed out log boats or standing on the back of a horse as it swam across. The work did continue and must have grown for in 1898 while Rev. E.D. Becker was serving the Golden Lake Charge, the log building was replaced by a fine brick edifice. The pastor was also the painter and decorator of this new church.
In 1914 the congregation suffered a severe blow when their church was destroyed by fire, which everyone believed was the work of an arsonist. Saddened, but undaunted they replaced the church the same year at a new location, but with a modest frame building covered with metal siding; the structure still used today. Rev. W.S. Hendrich was serving the Golden Lake Charge at that time.
Steps were taken to improve and modernize the church in 1951 by installing hydro. Further improvements were made, and more space provided in 1959 when a basement, rear room, and new cement steps were added. This gave both a front and rear entrance. Also at this time, the present wood furnace was installed. Further improvements were made in 1979 when heavy snow caused the sheds to collapse and a smaller woodshed was built. Interior redecorating was done in the same year.
As can be imagined, many things happen in one hundred years.
When the last Methodist minister to serve the congregation died, the Methodists has no replacement to appoint and their work ceased. How long an interval there was before Evangelical ministers began serving the area is not known but their work is usually dated from the time they built their first log church in 1880. This work continued until November 1946 at which time the congregation became part of the Evangelical United Brethren Church. Our present affiliation came about as a result of action taken in 1968. Probably one of the most trying times of the past century occurred when this congregation, along with its sister church in Killaloe, broke away from its parent body, the E.U.B. and became affiliated with the Northwest Canada Conference of the Evangelical Church of Canada. At this time we became part of the Killaloe-Augsburg Charge and the parsonage was re-located to Killaloe.
Through good time and bad times the congregation had grown. As Jesus said, “Lo I am with you, even unto the end of the world.” So we as a congregation must go on with Christ, serving until He shall return.
May this Anniversary be a stepping stone into a new era, a second hundred years of serving Christ.
May God bless each one, as He has blessed us.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
Composed by Rev. John R. Culp for the 100th Anniversary of Salem Evangelical Church
The congregation continued to faithfully serve in the area, being served with Pastors from both Ontario and the West. It was a big challenge to have fellowship with other churches since the closest Evangelical Church was in Winnipeg, Manitoba. However, we maintained out mission focus and many missionaries shared with us over the years. Delegates and pastors were sent to the yearly Conference, keeping us informed of decisions to be made.
In 1992, Church officials from the Evangelical Church and the Missionary Church proposed a merger between these two Conferences. Since most of the doctrine and theology were similar, individual churches were given the chance to vote. As a result, we became known as the Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada in 1993. At that time we had a Western Conference and an Eastern Conference. Each Conference was responsible to carrying on their own business and had Conference Superintendents to help guide and lead. Each year there was a joint Conference, alternating between the West and the East. This meant that there were churches closer for fellowship.
On 1997, the Board of Salem took a giant leap. They sent out a survey, asking about rebuilding a Church in Eganville or adding onto the present structure. It was decided that we would add on and so on August 5, 1997, the first shovel of dirt was taken out. Endless hours of work was put in by the congregation’s people. A contractor was hired to put up the frame, add the windows and doors, and then the congregation would take over. That is exactly what happened. Keith Krieger and Elroy Schroder were responsible, along with the board, to spearhead the operation. God was in EVERY part of it. Electrical, plumbing, drywalling, painting, insulation, etc. filled many night. We did hire someone to do the mudding and lay the carpet. A 1000 square foot addition was added on, including washrooms, and a huge kitchen, and was completely finished by the fall of 1998. During that time, we had no pastor but the Holy Spirit was so present each time we met. The fund-raising committee had a tremendous responsibility and without any barriers they moved forward. The addition cost close to $150,000 but no debt occurred. As we needed the money, there was always just enough. Bake sales, music nights, bridal shows, toonie drives, generous giving by both the congregation and the community helped to ease this load. Almost $3000 was raised with toonies alone. The addition was dedicated to the Lord in September of 1998. Throughout this building process, Rev. Ted Losch encouraged us each week and gave us the desire to continue to serve the Lord. What a blessing he was to our Church. On the day of the dedication, we were blessed to have Pastor Peter and Becky Dennison, former missionaries to Nigeria, come to pastor our flock.
In 2004, more proposals came from head office about more restructuring. Instead of the District Superintendent and other Directors, we would have a President and Regional Ministers along with the usual bookkeepers and secretaries. These changes took place in 2006. At the present, our President is Phil Delsaut who has offices both in Kitchener and Calgary. We continue to serve in our community.
We have not grown much in numbers. Many of our young people have chosen to attend college or university in larger centers, thus not returning to our area. There are jobs in the area but most are in the forestry and small business. Others people have chosen to attend other churches.
Today, we are searching for a new pastor. We have an interim pastor with us until March and then we’ll see what God has planned for us.