After much build-up, St. Andrew’s United Church has received its official designation as Lacombe’s first ever municipally designated historical resource.
On Sept. 28th, a special worship service to commemorate and celebrate the designation was held.
During the service, those in attendance heard special greetings from Mayor Steve Christie on behalf of the City and the Historical Society.
“I’m here today to join you in celebrating a milestone for this congregation as well as the City of Lacombe,” said Christie.
Outside the service, Christie commented on how the designation was a long-time coming but very well deserved.
“It’s been a long time in the making,” said Christie. “Yes it’s a building. But it is part of our culture, part of Lacombe’s culture, part of Lacombe growing up, part of Lacombe’s past.”
City Planner Jennifer Kirchner, who is also the President of the Lacombe and District Historical Society, said she hopes this is just the beginning of Lacombe’s municipal historic resources.
“I hope that other heritage property owners will follow St. Andrew’s lead and consider designating their properties as Municipal Historic Resources,” said Kirchner.
When speaking to the children of St. Andrew’s before sending them to their own worship time during the service, Reverend Ross Smillie pointed out to the children some of the features in the sanctuary of the church that represent periods of the school history.
For example, the stained glass window at the far end of the church recognizes all those who fought in the First World War.
The wood carving of the dove and the cross was built by a former pastor in remembrance of his son who died in a plane crash and was donated on behalf of all parents who had lost children.
After the service, Smillie said there are a few more examples of features in the church that represent its timeline.
“Each generation puts its mark on it.” He went on to say that the church has been built in stages with the first part built in 1908-1909.
Pastor Marco Ste-Marie, a newcomer to Lacombe and to St. Andrew’s, spoke in his sermon at the service on how it is important to commemorate the building of St. Andrew’s Church, but also important to celebrate the people behind it.
He said that in designating the building, it also recognizes how important the congregation has been to the community of Lacombe as well.
“One doesn’t go without the other,” said Ste-Marie. He added that the church building is used by a number of groups outside of its congregation throughout the week.
St. Andrew’s United Church has long been a centre for the community outside its immediate congregation.
Smillie said there are 22 community groups that currently make use of space inside St. Andrew’s to hold meetings, events and programs.
James (Jim) Dixon, a long-time member of the St. Andrew’s congregation who was active in getting its designation as a historical resource, also commented on how the building and the congregation behind it has served the community as a whole.
Dixon said that St. Andrew’s United Church has filled roles of facilities not existing in Lacombe. Perhaps most commonly, St. Andrew’s is used as a performing arts hall as such, hosting many concerts throughout the year, especially during the Lacombe Music Festival in March.
“I think that’s particularly meaningful in the community because Lacombe has been without any sort of equivalent facility,” said Dixon.
He added that designating the building recognizes the roles St. Andrew’s Church has filled in the community for last 100-plus years.