Published 09:54 Mar 29, 2022
By Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Jasper Lutheran Church (JLC) will be closing its doors by the end of the year after 56 years of serving as a place of worship for residents and visitors.
“We just don’t have enough members,” said Henry Beckmann, board chair for the Jasper Lutheran Church, adding that the decision was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The board is now looking for a charitable not-for-profit organization to take over the property.
“The goal of JLC membership is to see the property turned over to a charitable organization that will value the Christian heritage of this historic site,” Beckmann said.
“A letter has been sent to various organizations already, and we’re inviting whoever else is interested in submitting proposals.”
Key to the consideration of any sale or transfer of the property is the assurance that the Lutheran Church building be preserved and maintained as a Class A heritage property, and that it be esthetically incorporated into any development.
The manse, or clergy house, behind the church could also be included in the sale or transfer.
The congregation does not require the house to be saved, even though it is also a heritage property, but with a Class B rating.
Beckmann shared the rich history of the Lutheran Church and the building itself.
Since 1966, the Jasper Lutheran Church has been the only church of its denomination within a national park and has served worshippers from around the world, as Jasper is an international destination for thousands of people over the years.
“Worship services have provided a Christian connection for world-wide travellers,” Beckmann said.
“In times past, summer services were well attended, and visitors from every continent have sat in our pews. Many, many tourists expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to worship in Jasper.”
There is also the appeal of the church’s magnificent structure.
“The JLC and the property are some of the most photographed subjects in town,” Beckmann said.
Community members are equally fond of the church, Beckmann added, noting a time some years ago when the cross was temporarily taken down for restoration.
“Jasper locals and frequent visitors noticed its absence with alarm and concerns were expressed,” he said.
“The cross was rebuilt by the Jasper Fire Brigade and volunteers.”
It took about a year to be re-installed at the church. With the cross back in place, Beckmann said the church was the tallest structure in town.
Any organizations that are interested in taking over the property should submit an expression of interest as soon as possible.
The deadline for proposals is June 30.
A decision will be made by the end of August by the church’s congregation/board, with transfer of the property to take place before the end of 2022.