Anglican Church of the Epiphany first building at Pas Ka Poo Park

The inside of church gleamed like a bright copper penny and the hardworking pioneers who filled its pews were truly grateful

The inside of church gleamed like a bright copper penny and the hardworking pioneers who filled its pews were truly grateful to have a newly constructed holy place of worship in which to gather.

It was Dec. 20, 1908, five days before Christmas when the first church service was held at the Anglican Church of the Epiphany, the first church building to be erected in Rimbey.

No doubt, the new church came as a wonderful Christmas gift to a community that was just beginning to put down the cornerstones of its foundation; cornerstones which were vital components of the growing town.

The church came to be thanks to an individual who preferred to remain nameless. He did, however, have one stipulation if he was to spend money on a new church.

The logs used to erect the building needed to be local and they needed to be set vertically.

The foreman, who happened to be Ben Rimbey, one of the pioneers for which the town is named, complied.

It proved to be a good decision.

The little church built with logs set vertically has stood the test of time and remains a sturdy historical icon to be appreciated by all who view it.

Rimbey was a Methodist but it seemed people of all faiths volunteered to get the church built.

Ironically, according to a history pamphlet from Pas Ka Poo Park, Rimbey gave his time and expertise to the construction of the Anglican Church, even though a Methodist church was also under construction at the same time.

Alas, the church welcomed by the community in 1908 with open arms would eventually outlive its usefulness and in the early 1960s it became obvious the building that housed about 80 people was too small for its growing congregation.

Rumors began circulating the church could be torn down or sold to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.

Either action would mean a vital part of Rimbey’s history would disappear, a fact that raised the ire of newspaper columnist Fred Schutz.

Schutz, a gentle man with a deep appreciation for the community and its history, went to work immediately to set the wheels in motion to not only save the church, but to create a place where the history of Rimbey and the surrounding communities would live forever.

In 1963 he became the first president of the Rimbey Historical Society and by 1966 the Society had obtained land for the park site and moved the old log church onto the property.

Lt.-Gov. Grant MacEwan opened the park in 1967.

There is more than a little pride in Cheryl Jones voice as she tells the story of the church and the park and how Fred Schutz and a group of dedicated individuals made it all happen.

“I’m partial to this building,” she said. “It is so beautiful and the acoustics are uplifting.”

She points out the wooden pews, the beautiful polished pine floors and the pump organ purchased in 1911 for $58.

She shows off the three painted glass windows which were received in 1928 from Eastern Canada and purchased by Rev. G. Fielder.

A ball glove lies on a shelf in the vestibule where the minister prepared for service, looking oddly out of place in such sacred surroundings.

However, Jones explains the minister coached a boys’ ball team back in the day, no doubt doing his part to help nurture the physical side of his flock as well as the spiritual.

Rev. A. J. Patstone, a missionary who had come to the area a year before was the church’s first minister.

Patstone was a circuit minister who travelled to Bentley, Rocky Mountain House, Clearwater, Eckville and Leslieville. It is amazing he found time to coach a boys’ ball team, as well.

Patstone will also go down in history as the minister who came all the way from England bringing with him the church bell which still tolls today.

Jones smiles as she gives the bell rope a tug.

The sounds of the tolling bell echo in the summer air, a gentle reminder even today, the sound of a church bell is no less peaceful and welcoming than it was in 1908 when the church was young and new like the town, itself.