St. Luke’s starts Raise the Roof campaign

Preserving Red Deer’s oldest church starts at the top.

Preserving Red Deer’s oldest church starts at the top.

St. Luke’s Anglican Church has launched its Raise the Roof campaign to raise money to replace the shingles on its aging roof.

But that’s just the beginning for the church located at 4929-54th St.

An engineering study showed the provincially designated historic resource needs at least $250,000 in restoration and repairs.

Pastor Noel Wygiera said Monday that the building with an exterior made of locally quarried sandstone has structural issues, problems with wall shifting and sagging, and sandstone degradation.

“It probably has been happening over the last 100 years,” said Wygiera. “Nobody really knows at what speed it is happening. But it’s something that if we want it to be up for another 100 years we need to make sure we address the problems.”

The church opened its doors Nov. 4, 1900, though it wasn’t officially completed until 1906.

Local sandstone was cut and prepared by parishioners from a quarry located on what is now the Cronquist residential area.

The most pressing need is the shingle replacement. Wygiera said this project should have been completed about 10 years ago.

Residents are invited to make a $50 donation which they are promoting as the “purchase” of one bundle of shingles. The roof work comes with a $30,000 price tag. Wygiera said they hope to have the roof done by this summer.

The church will shift to addressing the structure and foundation of the building after the roof is completed.

The province declared St. Luke’s a provincial historic site and helped fund a four-year refurbishment program that restored the weathered sandstone in 1978.

Wygiera said this is the highest level of designation as a historic structure in Alberta.

“The challenge is that we’re a small church community,” he said. “Our primary function is not in building, restoring and reclamation. We are more on the people side of things. We felt it necessary to reach out beyond ourselves because if St. Luke’s building is an important resource to the community as a whole, we need the support of the community as a whole in order to maintain and preserve it.”

Wygiera said there will likely be an ongoing appeal to the community.

To donate to the project, call 403-346-3402 or office@oldchurch.com.

crhyno@reddeeradvocate.co