Set in the heart of Red Deer, St. Luke’s Anglican Church is certainly a kind of monument to the region’s early settlers.
But these days the beautiful church, built in 1899 and known as the City’s oldest standing church, is in need of various types of renovations, and Rev. Noel Wygiera and his congregation are calling on the community to lend a hand in raising funds towards that end.
Recently, the ‘Raise the Roof’ campaign helped bring in the funds necessary to repair the church’s roof, but there is other restorative and engineering work that needs to be done, said Wygiera.
The Raise the Roof campaign began last fall within the congregation itself, and had a target of $30,000 to raise, said Wygiera. “Eighty per cent of our $30,000 was raised internally,” he said. “It was this past April that we went public with it.
“With community donations and a bequest on behalf of a former parishioner, there was an additional $12,000 to $13,000 raised.”
But as Wygiera pointed out, the roof is the tip of the iceberg.
He added that the appeal for funds will continue even after the roof work is completed so as to help raise money for external structural work on the building, as well as work to preserve the sandstone.
The building, which has been designated as a Provincial Historic Resource, features an exterior of locally-quarried sandstone, and is an example of late 19th century neo-gothic architecture.
In 1899, Canon Joshua Hinchliffe arrived in Red Deer as rector of the parish of St. Luke’s. Schooled in England, he was an architect and a master stone mason and carpenter. As St. Luke’s couldn’t afford to pay for a full-time priest, Hinchliffe worked during the week at the Piper Brickyard.
Initially, the Edmonton firm of Edminston and Johnson prepared designs for St. Luke’s. Then under Hinchliffe’s supervision, construction began in 1899.
According to church documents, as the congregation couldn’t afford bricks from the Piper Yard, sandstone from the local Reinholt Quarry was used instead.
“They started building on the east end of the church and worked towards the west.”
The sandstone was cut and prepared by members of the parish. And eventually, the building was opened on Nov. 4th, 1900 and a consecration service was held in 1902, he said. St. Luke’s was fully completed in 1906.
“People worked really hard to make this happen.”
As the church’s web site puts it, ‘St. Luke’s Church building is indeed a provincial treasure and a crown jewel among Red Deer’s historic resources.’
Raising public awareness about the restoration projects has also bolstered awareness about the church in general, said Wygiera. “We’ve been able to open up the facility more for people.” For example, the Wild Rose Harmonizers recently performed there. And another local congregation uses the building on Sunday afternoons. Wygiera wants to see more of that sharing of the church down the road.
“We want to be able to offer it back to the community as a whole. And we want the community to know it’s here to use.
“I’d like to see it being used every day of the week.”
For more information, or to support the fundraising in any way, call 403-346-3402, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or donations can also be mailed to St. Luke’s Anglican Church at 4929 – 54 St. The postal code is T4N 2G7.
Cheques should be made payable to St. Luke’s Anglican Church.