Zion Baptist Church
Here is a brief history of Zion Baptist Church's beginnings, as published in a local Hesketh history book in 1972 in an article by Arthur Forsch
The Christian Church has a uniting effect in the community. The Zion Baptist Church was built as a result of this effect. Most of these Baptists were members of the Freudental Baptist Church five miles southwest of Carbon. At that time only the German language was used. At present only the English language is used. Not all families had cars in the early twenties and for the horse and buggy it was too far to attend regularly. In around 1928 and 1929 it was felt best to have a church of their own in this district. Most families had cars at this time but the families were so large they could not all get into one car. This prompted some to come with the truck with the children in the back.
Mr. Christ Permann, west of Freudental Church bought some land for his boys in this area and so pushed very hard that a church be started here. The Humbolt school was conveniently located, so it was decided to have services in it. As the greater part of the school families were Baptists, there was not too much opposition.
In the summer of 1929 church services were begun. The families that began attending were: Jacob Sailer, Christ Martin, John Kappes, John Forsch, Fred Ziegler, Phillip Ziegler, John Brost, Bill Ziegler and Jake Ziegler. In that year two more families moved in and began attending, namely, Fred Renn and Christian Bertsch.
Rev. Fred Mueller was the interim pastor of the Freudental Church and served also as pastor here. There were only Sunday afternoon services at first. Rev. Albert Ittermann, an energetic minister, became the pastor that fall. He lived in Carbon and served both churches alternating the Sundays. A layman served as preacher when the minister was at the other church. On these particular Sundays there was only an afternoon service. When the minister was here we had three preaching services: Sunday School at ten o'clock; worship at eleven; at one-thirty another, most people bringing lunch; another preaching service in the evening. This had been the custom for the other church for years. Rev. Ittermann had this soon changed as he said three sermons in a day is too much for him. So morning and evening services were introduced as still is the custom.
By this time a Sunday School had been established. Emmanuel Bertsch was the first superintendent. The present one (1971) is Emil Heinrich. A Young People's Society was started and Gottlieb Klein was the first President. The present one is Don Quantz. A choir was also started with Rev. Ittermann as director. At one time the choir consisted of nearly 50 members. We also had an orchestra for a number of years.
We chose Zion to be the name of our church. We remained a branch church to Freudental, even after they had relocated in Carbon, and its name had been changed to Carbon Baptist Church.
In 1930 there was a revival meeting held in the school with Rev. Ittermann as the evangelist. As the school could not hold the people attending, a large tent was set up in the school yard. This tent belonged to our Baptist Denomination and was used every summer by the churches who convened the convention of the Alberta area.
That spring these meetings continued every evening except Saturdays right through seeding time and very few complained. We even finished seeding in record time.
Most families were large as mentioned earlier. As these grew up, got married, and established families of their own in the area, the school house soon became too small. If these couples had raised large families such as their parents did, even the present church would have been too small.
As the school was not the best place for a church and much too small, it was decided to build a church. Money was scarce, how were they to get some to build a church? In the spring of 1935 it was decided that each family give the proceeds of a certain amount of acres of their own choice to the building fund. The families of the Freudental church also helped this way. In the fall of 1935 the basement was built and the outer shell of the building was erected. Land was donated for this site by Mr. Christian Bertsch who had helped buy the Clarence Reed place for his son Emmanuel. The church was built on the southeast corner of the quarter, east of the farm. Church services were held in the basement till the summer of 1939.
After a number of wind storms for which these years were famous, the building started to lean. In 1937 with the help of tractors, the building was straightened and well reinforced. It was then we started to complete the upper part of the building. It was done mostly by volunteer labor. One carpenter, Charlie Thompson from Gleichen, and helper were hired. Mr. Langford and his sons did the plastering.
In the summer of 1939 the church was finally finished. A dedication service was held on July 30, 1939 with many of the neighbouring churches invited. Premier William Aberhart being the featured guest speaker. A public address system was used that day. As we had no electricity it was supplied by a Model A Ford driving a generator. Coleman gasoline lamps were used as lights in the evenings for years.
In 1953 each church felt that they needed a minister of their own. It was also very hard to get a layman to preach a sermon in the morning worship service so it was decided that Zion become an independent church.
Rev. William Effa was the first Pastor. A house on 3rd Ave West in Drumheller was bought for a parsonage. In 1961 a new parsonage was built in the Riverview division in Drumheller. In 1961 a Women's Missionary Society was started and Mrs. Alvina Bertsch was the first president. The present one is Mrs. Leroy Metzger. Since the year of 1954 a Vacation Bible School has been held every summer for a week or two. Ever since the beginning of the Sunday School a Christmas concert has been held.
A yearly highlight is a Sunday School picnic usually held on the first of July. For a number of years they were held beside a small lake on the farm of John Grose, but now for a good number of years at the Hesketh Community baseball grounds. A big occasion at these picnics was the ball game between the married men and the single fellows. The married men being the winners for a number of years, but finally the boys began winning and the married men never had a chance. Since these boys have grown up and married this competition has ended. In the latter years of the Fifty's and the early Sixty's the boys had a softball team and played in a league between the churches of Carbon, Trochu, Olds and Linden.
In 1945 a gas powered 32 volt electric plant was installed and served as electricity for the church until we were hooked up to the Drumheller power line.
In the year 1964 a well was drilled and running water with indoor toilet facilities were installed.
The ministers who served up to the present time were: Rev. Albert Itterman, Rev. Fredrich Alf, Rev. Ed Fenske, Rev. Ewald Wegner, Rev. Jacob Rott, Rev. William Effa and Rev. Fred Ohlmann. Rev. Herb Quantz is the present pastor. A Bible School student, Cornie Wiebe, served during the summer months of 1961.
Of those who became missionaries and ministers from this church are as follows: Missionaries--Ida Forsch; Helen Kennedy formerly Ziegler, who with her husband was killed in a car accident on December 27, 1970 in Lusaka, Zambia, Central Africa; Arthur Frietag and Lenora Frietag formerly Bertsch; Ministers--Delvin Bertsch and Harold Sailer; Minister's wife--Edna Ohlmann, now Mrs. Dieter Gohl.
Ther Zion Baptist Church was never a large church but as the trend is in country churches--they are closing down and moving into urban centres. It is one of the few still open. It stands on a hill to the Glory of God like a lighthouse proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. "Redemption through the blood of Christ."
Standard Book Number 0-919212-15-8 Published by Hesketh Pope Historical Society, Hesketh, AB, 1972 by D. W. Friesen & Sons Ltd.
Here is a record of the pastors that have served at Zion Baptist Church since 1953 (when it became independent and began to employ its own pastor:
Rev. William Effa (1953-1960)
Rev. Fred H. Ohlman (1961-1969)
Rev. Herbert Quantz (1970-1973)
Rev. Bruce Merrifield (1974-1976)
Rev. Ron Parrott (1977-1979)
Rev. Allan Unger (1981-1988)
Rev. Cliff Landers (1988-1990)
Rev. Lloyd Driedger (1990-2000)
Pastor Doug Asselstine (2000-2005)
Rev. Dr. Leon Cymbaluk (2005-present)