And we thought coffeehouse church was a new idea! Check out the deep history of Jasper Park Baptist Church in this article from Pastor Roy Nickel, originally published in CBWC’s monthly enewsletter, Making Connections.
Our world was a different place in 1914. WW I began. Jasper Forest Park was 7 years old. Babe Ruth’s career began. Robert Borden was Prime Minister, Woodrow Wilson was president, King George V was king, and the cornerstone of “The Little White Church in the Rockies” was laid, being several years in completion.
1914 was a pivotal year for this first church constructed in Jasper. It began as a Union Church – (essentially Methodist), for Christians who weren’t members of the Anglican Church). In 1925 they joined the merger of Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches to form the United Church of Canada. It became known as “The Little White Church in the Rockies” in the mid-1940s. Plans for a major expansion were drawn, but funds were insufficient to proceed. They sold the building to a group who became part of the Baptist Union of Western Canada in 1965.
For many summers (1968 – mid-1980s) the church basement was home to the Bedford Inn Coffeehouse. Styled like a 17th Century English inn, it was named after Bedford, England – the home of John Bunyan (The Pilgrim’s Progress).
The basement retains that design, providing a unique setting for meetings, potlucks, Bible studies, Pioneer Club and other ministries, as well as a venue for retreats and rental groups.
While the church is showing its age, a recent gift from Century II enabled us to stabilize the outside walls, providing a safe and quaint building for years to come. We’re grateful!!
We’re celebrating its 100th Anniversary on September 7th, 2014 with a service shared with Jasper Park United Church and the community of Jasper, followed by a free BBQ and an open house, where you can see displays of memorabilia, have guided tours and watch PowerPoint presentations of the church’s history. We’d love to see you!
(Sources: JPBC archives, The Jasper Fitzhugh, Albertaonrecord.ca and Stephen A. Nelson’s blog, http://nelsonsvoyages.blogspot.ca/2010/01/little-white-church-in-rockies-jasper.html)
For more information about the building’s centennial and the celebrations, contact Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org.