Penhold residents Ken and Lynn McCarthy built a church on their front yard to remember a loved one and a beloved pet. The couple say the church has become an attraction in the community.

Penhold residents Ken and Lynn McCarthy built a church on their front yard to remember a loved one and a beloved pet. The couple say the church has become an attraction in the community.

Miniature church draws a crowd in Penhold

A church that is small in stature but big in heart is becoming a tourist attraction in Penhold.

A church that is small in stature but big in heart is becoming a tourist attraction in Penhold.

Since building a 100-square-foot church about a year ago, Ken and Lynn McCarthy have been welcoming about six or eight visitors to the small chapel each month.

Complete with a bell stamped with the date ‘1850’ and steeple, the miniature church stands on the McCarthy’s front yard and is visible from Hwy 2A, near the Fast Gas in Penhold.

“We have people coming and going all the time,” said Ken McCarthy. “We have a lot of people coming in and asking if they could take pictures. It’s on the front of two CD covers. People want to get married in it.”

The guest book inside the church gives evidence of visitors from Japan, China, South Africa, Germany, Australia and parts of Alberta. McCarthy says some people are dropping by to take a quick look while others have sat silently in a pew for several hours.

The church boasts six narrow pews enough to fit 12 parishioners. Visitors are greeted with music from local country/gossip artist Wanda Lee Rue whose CD plays whenever the church is open.

McCarthy said the church has been the backdrop to many wedding pictures. Recently it was blessed by a minister during a ceremony on the property.

And this summer McCarthy’s son will be the first to be married inside the chapel.

“Ken built it out of love and it’s filled with love,” said Lynn. “I’ve had people who have come here this week who broke down in tears the minute they walked into the church. A lot of people have sat here just quietly … It’s a church of love.”

The Penhold couple built the church as a memorial for Lynn’s late son, Wayne, 43, who died of cancer in 2011 and a beloved dog who died shortly after. The couple were inspired to build the church after seeing many on their travels in Canada and the United States.

Lynn said her son would have been proud.

A small donation box is near the door of the church and the proceeds will go to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Lynn said the church is always open and “anyone can come, anytime. They just have to knock.”

“It’s a church built of love,” said Lynn. “It would be a better world, if we just think positive all the time and not hate this one or that one. We (need to) just emphasize that word — love.”

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com