The Pleasington Lutheran Church is a fine looking building at around a century old and is located in a wonderful and scenic setting on the big sky Alberta prairies. Lovingly cared for, services and community events, along with weddings and funerals, are held here on occasion. A cemetery next door adds a somber note to our visit, as do the gray clouds boiling above us.
Know officially as the Pleasington Zion Lutheran Free Church, or in the past the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Pleasington, it’s located at a lonely crossroads, northeast of the town of Forsestburg Alberta.
Built by Scandinavian settlers, who brought their branch of Christianity to the district, it’s not completely clear what year the structure was built. A sign on the grounds says it was 1910, however other records say something entirely different and two other dates are eluded to, both contradictory of course. A photo showing the church under construction has a caption that says 1917. In a write up, it’s said the church celebrated its 60th anniversary in 1968, which would the indicate that it’s from 1908.
Yikes, how’s a person supposed to make heads or tails of this? So who’s right?
I tend to think the older dates are when the congregation was formed, which seem to be suggested in some history books, and the newest when the building itself was actually constructed. Let me explain – a large group of parishioners would be needed to fund a church of this nature and it was not until the coming of the railway, in around 1915, before the local population really took off. Prior to that time, I don’t think the scattered few that lived here that were members of the faith, had the resources to do so. Just my take on it.
Let’s just say it’s close to a hundred years old and run with that. Yeah, that’s good enough.
The building was last used for regular Sunday services in the late 1970s. Since that time it’s used every now and then. A friend mentioned that a geocache is located at the church, if you’re into that kind of thing.
The Pleasington Church is maintained, quite nicely I might add, by a local group, the Pleasington Historical Society which has been active for close to forty years. They have this to say about themselves and their mission…
“The purpose of our charity is to preserve some of the heritage of the Pleasington district by maintaining the Pleasington Church and its grounds and cemetery. The church is used for weddings, funerals and special occasions such as reunions.”
As mentioned, there is a cemetery next to the church, well kept and used. I’m not always comfortable photographing grave makers and the like, which accounts for the lack of photos from that part of the grounds.
We found the church’s old sign at the back of the property. One can see it in place in old photos we found while researching the building.
The origins of the name Pleasington are not clear and this author could find nothing definitive in respects to that. We’ll keep digging though and of course we welcome input from our readers should they know.
The Lutheran Church was founded in the 1500s and is a branch of the Protestant Christian faith. It’s common in northern European countries, particularly Norway, and any place where people from there later settled, or in regions where that country had a sphere of influence.
This trip we were accompanied by fellow history buff Tim Swaren, who acted as our local guide. He is from and still lives in the area and has family connected to the church. Thanks Tim, we had a blast. If you’d like to join in on the fun and tag along on an adventure with us or show us around your part of the world, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: July, 2014.
Location: Near Forestburg, AB.
The building and grounds seen in this report is publicly accessible.