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The Church at Keystone

Because the pioneers were strongly religious and had always gone to church in the States, the first institution to take form was the church. They felt an urgent need to worship God in this new land, and therefore everyone in the community took part in its planning and building. In September 1911, Good Hope Baptist Church, a little log building, held its first service. Its name was appropriate, because to succeed in the harsh environment the parishioners needed not only strength of will but also a heavy dose of hope. Our religion always gave us that.

Our little log church certainly was no great edifice, but it worked for us. It and its pastor were maintained by the free labour and products produced by its parishioners because there wasn't any money to speak of. One Sunday there were 51 people at the service and the collection plate yielded all of 82 cents. During good and bad times the church always served as the focal point of the community.

After the church came the need for a cemetery where we could lay our loved ones to rest; and finally a school to secure a prosperous and productive future for our children.

The Allens were active members in the Hope Baptist Church, which they helped to build. They served on the board and held the first church organizational meeting in their home on September 10,1911. Charlie King Sr. chaired the meeting and Harry Allen served as secretary. The Allen family also helped to build and operate Funnell Schol.

Charlie King was a very ambitious man, active in all community organizations. He assumed a leadership role in the construction of the Good Hope Baptist Church and the Funnell School and helped establish the Keystone Cemetery. He kept the records of the cemetery for many years and was secretary of the God Hope Church. In 1918 he became secretary-treasurer of the Funnell School District, a position he held until 1954.

All of King's daughters served as secretaries of the Sunday school. Odessa King married Henry Brooks. He became the first reverend of the Good Hope Baptist Church and Odessa became Funnell School's second teacher. She taught my older sister and some of my brothers, but she never taught me. The first teacher was Victor Nordland, who began teaching in the one-room school in 1913, a year after it opened. He stayed only on year.

Rev. Henry Brooks became pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Edmonton from 1919 to 1920 and later moved the United States. They lived in the Keystone area for about eight years.

From Gwen Hooks' The Keystone Legacy: Recollections of a Black Settler.Reprinted with the kind permission of the author.

See also:

[back] [First People and Settlers] [New Beginnings] [Adventurous Albertans]

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