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The Church - Seven Persons

Seven Persons - Once Hundred Sixty Acres and a Dream

Chapter 20

Mrs. Afton (Berg) Fawcett, formerly of Seven Persons and more lately of Lacombe, Alberta, wrote this history of the church.

In early times, prior to 1908, a Sunday School was organized to meet every Sunday at eleven o'clock. A Presbyterian minister was engaged and there was a good attendance and a wonderful spirit of fellowship and love. A Ladies' Missionary Society was formed also.

Reverend McLaren was the first minister. He served the community in 1909 and 1910. By 1911 a manse was built by volunteers for Reverend Young and his wife and family. Part of the house was curtained off and used as a school room. Mr. Jim McAskile. taught there in 1911. He was a brother of Colin McAskile, the storekeeper, and was raising money to allow him to attend medical college. Mr. Young travelled to his outside points with a horse and buggy. Mrs. Young sang beautifully and played the organ. She taught music lessons and conducted a choir.

In 1916 a church was built and dedicated. More rooms were added to the manse and a stable was furnished for the minister's horse. Perhaps, because of faulty construction, this stable leaned with the prevailing wind for many years, like Pisa's famous Leaning Tower.

Other ministers who followed were the Reverends Conway, Smith, Gibson, Harback, Sneddon (1922), J. W. Morrow (of Medicine Hat), Mr. Graham, Miss Elsie Graham, Mr. Berg and Lawrence Seibert.

Henry Kraft chuckled as he recounted this story of one minister. Henry had lent him a horse and promised that this saddle pony was trustworthy. What he omitted to add was that it would not cross a bridge. When the reverend gentleman arrived at his schoolhouse church his "faithful flock" noted that he was dripping wet to the knees. He explained that when he had pressed his mount to cross the bridge, it, like John Gilpin's horse, had taken the bit in its teeth and galloped down through the swiftly flowing creek and up the other side, while he had clung on desperately. Henry said, "That minister was all right. He had the Almighty on his side."

Another man of the cloth" complained to Mrs. Ross that he hadn't been feeling well. She surmised that, since he was a bachelor, possibly his cooking was not conducive to good health. Wishing to be helpful she said, "What you need is a dose of castor oil."

"Do you really think that would help me?" inquired the anxious Mr. Sneddon.

"Of course! I'll get you a tablespoon of it. Now, you'll pinch your nose it won't taste so badly."

He took a slight pinch of the tip of his nose.

"No! No! Mr. Snedden. “said Mrs. Ross. “I’ll hold your nose and you take the castor oil.

Castor oil was the worst-tasting potion ever prescribed. It was a thick sticky oil with a repeating bean taste. It was given to cure all ailments from headaches, backaches, stomach aches and influenza. Once taken, the patient recovered quickly rather than face the incident of a repeated dose. Mr. Snedden undoubtedly recovered.

The church served the community in various capacities rounding out the history of the village.

Homesteaders felt they had left civilization for a wilderness and they especially missed their church. Efforts to build and maintain one in Seven Persons gave them social functions. It gave official services such as baptisms, confirmations, funerals, and probably weddings.

Commensurate to the declining population the building stood unused for a period of time. About 1940 members of the remaining Seven Persons community contributed money for shares to convert the old church into a community hall, In this capacity it housed such functions as meetings, plays and concerts, suppers and dances.

In the early 1950’s plans began to materialize for an irrigation scheme for this farming area. Several families of the Minnonite faith purchased the land. They, with the help of their mother church, bought the Seven Persons’ church, renovating it, putting in a basement and a foundation for added space. With new shingles and a coat of white paint the transformation was unbelievable. The Ernest Nickels, Abe Dycks, Abe Bergens, Ray Neufelds, Rudy Neufelds and others did much in this promotion. They maintained this church for several years and then left it to join the Crestwood Mennonite Brethern Church in Medicine Hat.

Again the building went to market. This time it was to become the home of Mr. and Mrs. Art Herter, who rebuilt it again, lowering the high peaked roof and removing the tower over the entrance. For the first time it was painted yellow. There is little about it today to say that it was ever a church.

Sunday School teachers who helped fill this important role were H.Ingram, Mrs. John Berg, Mr. Alex Brack, Elsie Graham and Meta Meyer. There were probably many others who helped in this field.

Organists whose names were recalled were: Mrs. Young, Mr. Malcom, Annie Meyer, Bertha Carlson, Maggie Meyer and Janet Smith.

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Mary Tollestrup