Members of the Gnadenfeld Baptist congregation lived some distance from the church. Nearby districts included Gnadenfeld, Liebenthal, Germantown and Josephthal. The districts conducted Sunday School classes in their homes. Frederick Heinrich became the first Sunday School Superintendent. This nomination took effect January 15, 1915. Like most new congregations, Gnadenfeld Baptist had difficulty obtaining the services of a full time pastor. The salary for the year 1915 was $800.00, and the pastor had to provide funding for a place to live.
Some of the pastors who served this congregation were O.D. Wegener, Philipp Daum 1916, Schwendener 1917, Wolf, Litwin, Koch, Kuyjat, John Weinbender, A. Bloedow, student Dan Fuchs, Walter Stein, John Kuehn, Paul Hintze, W. Reimche, H. Poh1, and Erwin Strauss. Serving as secretary of the congregation were Johann Renz, August Renz, Jacob Weisser, Jacob J. Graf, Karl Grusie, Ed Strauss, Ed. A Krause and Henry Winter.
Much of the time spent at the congregational meetings during the early years was devoted to smoothing over differences between various members. Many folks had their memberships canceled because the congregation felt they were not leading a good Christian life. Time and time again, these members were reinstated after they presented their cases in front of the group at a business meeting.
Gnadenfe1d Baptist Church was about two miles south and one mile west of the Schmidt farm. The family faithfully attended the church until it closed. The church was built with the help of several Schmidt family members and many of their relatives served in various capacities throughout the congregation’s history.
The first church meetings were held in the Sandy Point school house, just a half mile west of the present church property. The first such service took place October 11, 1915. The first baptismal service for District Gnadenfeld on June l3, 1915, added George Haas, Katherine Haas, Karl Becker, Katharina
Becker, Molly Maier, Margaretha Maier and Christina Graf to its membership list.
A building had been acquired at Estuary, Saskatchewan, and had been moved to the site. An addition was made to the west end of the building, to make it more serviceable. In the summer of 1923, services were begun in the church building with Reverend Kuyjat served as pastor. It was an active church, assuming many responsibilities. In the 1930’s, it maintained an orchestra and choir and was often overflowing with attendance.
The church also served as a distribution center for relief parcels during the “Hungry 30’s.”
Throughout the years of service, pastors were often shared with the Hilda Baptist Church. John Schmidt was a very active man in promoting Gnadenfeld Sunday School and church programs. He also served as Lay Minister on many occasions. He could always be depended upon to be present, no matter what the weather conditions. Due to the influence of the church, a number of local young people attended Christian training schools. Among them; Tina Schmidt became a missionary to West Africa and Bertha Seeman (Mrs. Eldon Janzen) is a pastor’s wife.
When the population of the district began to decline due to the amalgamation of farmsteads, it became necessary to discontinue the services here and the congregation began attending the Baptist Church at Burstall, Saskatchewan.
The Burstall Baptist church continued to conduct services until the regular annual meeting held February 10, 1963. A motion by Ted Scheurer that the Burstall Baptist Church Organization dissolve and turn over to Forrest Park, Illinois, all assets and church funds including Sunday school money, seconded by Henry Winter. Wilfred Jordan moved to adjourn the meeting. Henry Winter served as the last secretary. The vacant building was deteriorating very rapidly, so, in 1965, it was sold to Henry Strauss who moved it to his farm where it now serves as a workshop.
The original church property has shrunk in size due to a local farmer acquiring the southern portion of the original tract of land. There was a lot of controversy about this property a few years ago. The farmer had actually reduced the graveyard to an area just large enough to enclose the graves. Harvey Schmidt went to work and clarified the property size through land titles and returned the property to it’s rightful owners, the people of Sandy Point. He along with a few other kind souls fenced the property some years ago. Harvey continues to faithfully cut the grass, paint the fence posts, and has attempted to plant some trees. He deserves a great many thank you’s for his generous work.
The cemetery is located six and one half miles west, and two miles north of Burstall, Saskatchewan, at the junction of Township Road 202 and Range Road 12. The one acre plot is enclosed by a barb wire fence, all posts are painted white and there is a sturdy metal gate. This is one of the few rural sites that receives regular maintenance and is probably the best groomed cemetery in the M.D. excluding the major city cemeteries.
Courtesy of Medicine Hat and District Genealogical Society (MHDGS)