County of Ponoka GenWeb Project - Church Histories pg6
Sonrise Christian Reform Church
Water Glen Baptist Church
St. Margaret's Roman Catholic Church
Wood River Welsh Presbyterian Church
St. Michael's Church
Zion Lutheran Church
St. Michael's Hungarian Roman Catholic Mission
Zion United Church

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Water Glen Baptist Church
The pastors
The Swedish Baptist Church of Water Glen was organized in March of 1910 with twenty-eight members.
Pastor Wingblade
Pastor P. Lindquist (2 terms)
Pastor E. Hindorff
Pastor M. Anderson
Pastor Lee Enfield
Pastor Paul Anderson
Pastor Alfred Larson
Pastor D. Turnquist
Based on an excerpt from "Mecca Glen Memories"

Wood River Welsh Presbyterian Church
The years of 1900 - 1902 marked the beginning of the steady influx of Welsh immigrants to the area. Most came from Wales via the U.S.A., namely Nebraska, the Dakotas, Minnisota and Washington, but later on many came directly to Wales. Soon after the arrival of the first Welsh families to the Wood River area, the need was felt to establish a place of worship. The first religious services were held in Magic School, and later in Eureka School. After the Hugh W. Jones family moved from their Wood River farm, the house was used regularly for services for about a year. Rev Thomas Jeffreys freely gave of his time and efforts to to serve alternately at all of these points. For a few years, Rev Jeffreys held services in Climax and Eureka, the latter in the morning and the former on alternate Sunday nights.
As the years went by, more Welsh settlers arrived, the need was felt to erect a Church. The parish was scattered form many miles and the mode of travel was by team and wagon or buggy or on horseback. How true the old adage, "The path of success presents many obstacles", but the ardor of the early pioneers, overcame the obstacles. Indeed the enthusiasm was so apparent, it was difficult to arrive at a general consensus as to where the new Church should be built.
In 1914 the Wood River Welsh Church was built on land donated by John J. Hughes, one mile east of Magic School, and the first service was held that fall. This Church served a large congregation. The adherants of the new Church were members of varied denominations from their homeland in Wales or the U.S.A.: Methodist, Baptist, Anglican, Congregational, etc. But the membership blended together well, and the Church became associated with the Presbyterian Church of Canada. The supervisor for this area was Rev. William Shearer, who came regularly to Wood River to oversee that proper procedures were maintained in the organizational work, and he conducted the inauguration service.
Welsh language services were held regularly from the very beginning until 1929. The first minister was Rev. J.J. Samuels, a graduate from the Presbyterian College in Carmarthen, South Wales. Rev Samuels was the resident Minister at the Ponoka Presbyterian Chruch, lived in town and rode his pony, "Dandy", to the Wood River. Dandy was a wily little cayuse, and many a battle ensued between him and the Reverend!
Rev. William Davies, of Chicago, Illinois, USA was the next minister and he stayed for about 2 years.
The Church manse was erected in 1920 - 21. The Rev John Michael Hughes and his family from Seattle, Washington, USA were the first to occupy the new house. Rev Hughes remained with the parish until autumn 1922. His successor, Rev. O.J. Davies arrived in 1923 and stayed until 1927. Rev. P.O. Pierce came to Wood River from Bangor, Saskatchewan in 1928 and remained until 1930.
By this time, many of the Welsh people had passed away, or had moved to make their home elsewhere. It became difficult to continue in the Welsh language, and this marked the end of the Welsh Church as such.
From 1930 on, the services were conducted by Ministers from the Ponoka United Church until about 1946 when minsters from the Concord Baptist Church began to lead the worship. As well, several ministers from the Alix Missionary Alliance Church conducted services.
There was a well organized, dedicated ladies group in Wood River, called themselves the "Ladies Aid", formed about 1915. The initial executive was made up of Mrs. John Jenkins, President, Mrs. Walter Keonig, Vice-President, Mrs. L.G. Hughes, Secretary-Treasurer. After a while, Mrs. M.E. Roberts was appointed Secretary-Treasurer, and office she served in for many years. The group contributed considerably, socially and financially to the church, raising money through their sale of work at the annual fall Bazaar. The achievement of a years work of sewing, knitting and quilt-making. Supper was served at the Bazaar followed by a social hour, with the items of clothing, etc on display and sale. What was not sold during the evening, was auctioned by Tom Jenkins, the genial Auctioneer. On one occasion a ladies nightgown was up for bids by T.J. the "lucky' buyer was a local bachelor, who immediately pulled it over his suit and Wood River had it's first fashion show!
The Ladies Aid was ever ready to cater the various social functions. For many years, St. David's Day was celebrated to honour our patron Saint with a varied concert and supper. The church picnic too, hled each summer was an interesting event. Again a sumptuous dinner with a sports program, a tug of war, horseshoe pitching, and competitions. People came from near and far to enjoy the festivities. Fundraising and financing for the building of the manse in the early 1920's was also a project assisted by the efforts of the Ladies Aid.
Within the nucleus of the membership, were men and women well qualified to provide the leadership in conducting the affairs of the new Church, as Elders, Bible class teachers, song leaders, etc. Back in Wales the Church was recognized as the central part of the Community. It was from such an environment that these pioneers came to Wood River, and a desire to preserve the traditions of home was strong.
As such, Robert H. Jones seemed to be the accepted leader. He was an ardent church worker, an authority on the Welsh language and customs, and took an active part on stage in the Sanctuary or at festivals and programs. Richard C. Jones (y canwr) was song leader and Bible class teacher throughout the years. He had a modulator and taught Sol fa to the children. Wm Rees Jones was Sunday School Superintendent for many years. Others who took an active and prominent part were Hugh T. Jones, Griffith P Jones, John H. Reese, John J. Hughes, Hugh W. Jones, Griffith W. Jones, the Jenkins family and Wm F. Hughes, who was the last member of the original organizers 1914, to faithfully serve the cause throughout the years until the closing of the Sanctuary.
During the intervening years, many of the members had passed away, or moved elsewhere, and it became difficult to carry on. A meeting was called on October 18, 1953 of the trustees, elders and past members to discuss what should be done. A resolution was drawn up to dispose of the property, adn a committee appointed to be in charge of this work, and to expend the proceeds in whatever way they saw fit. The decision was to furnish a room at the Ponoka Municipal Hospital, and cash donations went to the British and Foreign Bible Society, and the Salvation Army, and finally, an entrance gate was erected at the Forest Home Cemetery, a fitting memorial to the departed members laid to rest in the sacred plots.
The Ministers - "Pre Church bldg" - services held at Magic & Eureka ... First Elected Elders
Rev. Mason (Presbyterian minister from Nebraska SD)
Rev. John Bracken (from the Ponoka Baptist Church)
Rev. John Milton
Richard C. Jones
Levi Davies
Robert H. Jones
Willam F. Hughes
The Ministers - services held in the Church... First Ladies Aid Executive
Rev. J.J. Samuels Rev. John Michael Hughes 1921 - 1922
Rev. William Davies Rev. O.J. Davies 1923 - 1927
Rev. T. R. Davies
Rev. P.O. Pierce 1928 - 1930
Rev. George Young Rev. Darby
Rev. Davidge
Rev. Jesperson
Rev. Anthrobus Rev. Alton
Rev. Ashdown --
Mrs. John Jenkins, President
Mrs. Walter Keonig, Vice President
Mrs. L.G. Hughes, Secretary/Treasurer
Sunday School Superintendent
William Rees Jones
Based on a excerpt from, "From Wales to Wood River and Surrounding Districts" (1980)

Zion United Church
The first Welsh Church organized in the area was known as the Welsh Calvanistic Methodist Church of Magic, registered in July of 1905. In 1916 when a new church was erected near Magic School, it was named Sion (Zion) by the Welsh and the name of Magic of dropped. Sion was later affiliated with the Presbyterians, and in the late 1930's joined the United Church of Canada.
Based on a excerpts from, "From Wales to Wood River and Surrounding Districts" (1980) and "Mecca Glen Memories"

Zion Lutheran Church
Photo Courtesy of "Over the Years..."


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