“In this place you can sense God’s presence immediately.”

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Exterior shot of a church seen against a mountain with a sign in front saying Waterton United Church
The mountains are reflected in the window of Waterton United Church.
Credit: Ruth Richardson
Published On: July 25, 2022
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Canadian churches grace unique places: restaurants, storefronts, even movie theatres. Perhaps the most serene of all settings, though, is a national park.

Waterton United Church is situated in the heart of Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. Although the United Church has had a presence in the park since 1955, the current building was dedicated in 1961. The cathedral window in the sanctuary, designed to frame the mountains, offers a breathtaking view.

“Architect George Watson framed Mount Vimy,” explains Carol Watt, chair of the Board of Trustees. “People who aren’t involved in the church but just stop to visit look out captivated by the view of the mountain over the lake. It’s a special thing that happens. It touches something deep within.”

Your gifts through Mission & Service help the church remain open year-round. In the summertime, Sunday services take place from late June through September with support from guest ministers. Other services are offered during high holy times throughout the year. Youth groups use the building as retreat space, and the chapel is a popular space for weddings. With a small room and kitchenette behind the sanctuary, the church also draws leaders who want to retreat.

“Providing space for spiritual reflection and retreat is an important aspect of the ministry we provide,” says Watt.

The Rev. Grant Dillenbeck and Ruth Richardson, now living in Ottawa, have been travelling to Waterton United Church for two decades, leading services and retreats. “The Spirit is in all places, but in this place you can sense God’s presence immediately. The actual building is built like a landscape. The flat roof is reminiscent of the prairies, and the peak is like the mountains. It is peaceful. Guest preachers offer experiences for the village and park guests in addition to members. We have led services and done theme discussion nights and forest church,” Richardson says.

“Waterton United offers a unique ministry to the wealth of summer visitors who flock happily into the national park and then find this gem of a United Church of Canada,” a recent newsletter reads. Richardson agrees: “It is totally unique to other church experiences in Canada.”

Thank you for supporting churches in remote places that witness in a unique way to the majesty and grace of God.

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