Our History
The roots of Westlock Gospel Chapel reach back to the Christian Brethren movement that began in Great Britain in the mid-1800’s. The founders of this movement left a variety of Protestant Churches and joined together to recover the vitality of first-century Christianity.
Being convinced that the true Church transcends denominational boundaries and includes everyone who confesses Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, the early Brethren resisted any formal organization under a denominational hierarchy. Still today, the formal connection between Brethren Churches is minimal.
Believing that every believer is a priest, with full access into God’s presence through Jesus Christ, the early Brethren also resisted the idea of a priesthood or a clergy of any kind. Still today, most Brethren Churches have a strong emphasis on leadership by lay people.
During the second half of the 1800’s the Brethren movement spread throughout Great Britain, Europe and North America. In 1924, it finally reached Westlock County, when a group of believers began meeting near Pibroch, in the home of David & Nancy Calderwood.
This group grew through evangelistic services of Bill Fairholm in 1931 and 1933. In 1933, Bill was joined by Alf Wallace. Even though they were a small group, these believers conducted numerous Sunday Schools and home Bible studies throughout the county. In addition, many were instrumental in beginning Bethel Bible Camp, which started in 1945.
The group was holding mid-week and Sunday evening meetings in the Pibroch Presbyterian Church, as well as continuing to share communion in the home of Jim & Minnie Wallace. When the house got too small it was decided to construct a church building in Westlock rather than Pibroch. The decision to move to Westlock was influenced by the fact that many of the children and youth reached through Bethel Bible Camp, Sunday Schools and Bible study classes in one-room schools throughout the county came from outside Pibroch.
In 1948/49 the first Westlock Gospel Chapel was constructed in the town of Westlock at the corner of 102 Avenue and 104 Street. Twenty years later that building became too small as well. An addition was put on, increasing both the sanctuary size and the classroom space, since it had become a church that worked with children and youth.
By the late 1980’s the Church had outgrown its building yet again. The decision was made to construct a new facility. This culminated in the April 1995 dedication of the Westlock Gospel Chapel at its current location on Highway 44. Within ten years this new facility became too small as well. So plans were made to add an extensive education wing, which was dedicated in the Fall of 2009.