The St. Albert Canadian Reformed Church has got some groundbreaking good news for its parishioners. The clock is now ticking down to the day when they can have a church building all to themselves.
The church has been offering its Sunday services out of the Red Willow Community Church. It established itself nearly 15 years ago as an offshoot of the Providence Canadian Reformed Church in Edmonton’s Sherbrooke neighbourhood. At the time, there were enough of its members who lived north of the capital city to consider a growth spurt.
“They grew a lot and when they get to a certain size then they look to start up another church somewhere else. Since there were quite a few members living in the St. Albert area, they decided that would be a good place to start to plant another church. That was 14 years ago. It’s been growing steadily ever since,” explained Ingrid VanderGaag, one of the fold.
Now, that St. Albert church has so many members that it has simply outgrown its gracious host’s facility.
“It’s actually getting small for us because, including the children in the congregation, we’re getting close to 400 membership. If everybody’s there and we have a few guests then we end up putting chairs out along the wall so we all fit. We’re pretty much at capacity.”
After a few years of pooling its resources and searching for a suitable solution, the church finally put shovels in the soil in late September. Its future home is being built on a 15-acre lot located along Villeneuve Road and Range Road 261, 2.5 km west of the northern apex of Ray Gibbon Drive. The foundation has already been laid, and the frame will sprout up from that in short order.
Ralph Smeding, long-time member and project lead for the new church, said that the site has been prepared with environmental stewardship in mind.
“We actually did a fair bit of excavation to raise grade so we have proper drainage. We had to build a containment basin so that we would only release water from the site into the Big Lake watershed at half its current natural rate. There’s some effort and some cost there to preserve the wetlands.”
The framing will continue over the winter. The work is estimated to take approximately a year before the doors can open for good.
“We’re very much excited about moving into a new building,” he added, noting everyone’s deep appreciation to the Red Willow Community Church.
“We are outgrowing that facility. The congregation is getting crowded. People are really looking forward to being able to have a place they call their own, and also maybe to be more visible to the community surrounding us, that we can be a service to the community with the building in whatever way we can find.”
He ended with a note on how this seemed like a fine way to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Reformation Day. It was on Oct. 31, 1517 when Martin Luther sent his 95 Theses to the Archbishop of Mainz, which prompted a major schism within the Catholic church and changed the religious landscape in Europe permanently.