. westbourne baptist church

 

 

 

473 12 AV SE

 

 

Westbourne Baptist Church was established as a mission church of First Baptist in 1905. The building wasn’t built until 1910 after a grant to the First Baptist Church congregation was received from Westbourne Church in London, England. The church, named for its British counterpart, has played an extremely significant role in the Baptist movement in Alberta, and it is widely recognized by its association with William Aberhart.  The building remains a small but strong, example of a Gothic Revival style of architecture.

 

westbourne church aberhart

Westbourne Church remained vacant for many years (1967-1975) as the congregation had difficulty selling the property due to declining land values in Victoria Park. A Pentecostal Congregation occupied the premises in the 1980s and covered the original building with the brick facing we still see today. Currently, the church is owned by another group known as the Religious-Divine Worship and is suffering from neglect. An important Calgary landmark, Westbourne Church contributes to a strong Pre-War historic grouping in Victoria Park. (1982)

westbourne church aberhart

 

The church was first ministered by Reverend R. Dack.  In October of 1915, William Aberhart learned that Westbourne Baptist was in need of a minister, and on 15 December 1915, he gave his first sermon at the church, beginning an important connection to the building. Although Aberhart was not a Baptist, he influenced control over the congregation who agreed to have him conduct his Bible study classes (initially taught at Trinity Methodist) from Westbourne Baptist. Through time, Aberhart's teachings caused debate within the broader congregation. Lead by staunch Baptist and former mayor, Thomas Underwood, the mother congregation of First Baptist disassociated with the followers of Aberhart. In 1921, members of Westbourne Baptist became independent from the traditional Baptist Convention, and in 1923, the church was incorporated on its own. It was at Westbourne that Aberhart's noted radio ministry had its beginnings. With contributions from his radio audience, Aberhart formed the Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute, building a new church and winning over a large proportion of Westbourne's congregation. In 1929, a large number of these members returned to the old church after questioning Aberhart's leadership. In 1930, the Regular Baptist Missionary Fellowship of Alberta was formed with the Westbourne congregation leading the movement, and thus, ending their relationship with William Aberhart.