Monday, August 8, 2011
TRIBUTE TO THE BEKEVAR CHURCH
“The church still stands and really is a symbol of the faith and the hope of the Bekevar community at that time, because they built a large enough church to seat somewhere in the neighborhood of between 250-300 people when there were perhaps a lot fewer families in the area. It was a great thing for the people to get together at the church. In the springtime they would speak about, discuss before and after the service, their hopes for the summer and the fall and the seeding and what they were doing and the acreages they were putting in to crop and so on…So these things had helped to keep the community together.”-The Rev. K. C. Doka--as quoted in “Peace and Strife”-by Martin L. Kovacs © 1980.
Previous to 1911 the twin spires of The Great Church of Bekevar were not visible for miles and miles around. Also, before 1911, we didn’t have zippers, or insulin, or penicillin, or life savers (the candies), or two World Wars, or talking motion pictures, or television, or radio, or rockets, or robots, or band-aids, or bubble gum. So much has changed in the world since 1911 but the main symbol of the faith and hope of our Hungarian pioneers endures still.
So many baptisms, marriages and funerals were performed in that building. How many romances and relationships were spawned at the services and the “szureti vigalom” (vintage merrymaking) Bekevar picnics that were held annually at The Great Bekevar Church? Countless descendants owe their very lives to the community of Bekevar and its heart and soul…the church.
My maternal grandparents, Joseph and Elizabeth Vedres, lived in the Bender and Inchkeith areas during the 1920’s and they and their children attended many services and community gatherings at the church while they resided in this area.
Although the building has not been used for anything more than the occasional wedding or ceremonial service, since the new Bekevar Presbyterian Church was built in Kipling in 1967, the structure remains a huge part of Kipling and District’s heritage.
Back in the 1970’s, prior to too many vandal attacks, the church remained furnished as it had been when the last regular service was held in the building. The doors were unlocked and the church was open to locals, site seeing visitors and many former area residents who would occasionally come back home and drop in for a nostalgic look at the old building.
As with any old seldom used building The Great Bekevar Church could be awe-inspiring during the day and very spooky at night. Truth be told, it could be pretty spooky during the day, too. Stories of Bekevar’s ghosts were passed from generation to generation and many a time the imaginations of the area youth would spark new stories of their sightings. Just driving by the place at night would cause the hair to rise on one’s arms and neck and make your sweetheart snuggle a little closer proving that, once again, Bekevar could always bring people together.
On July 10th of 2011 the 100th Anniversary of the building of The Great Church of Bekevar will be celebrated. What an opportunity to honour the courage, faith and foresight of our pioneers and celebrate the enduring symbol that was left as their legacy.
“It was proposed on October 15th, 1910, by Janos Szabo that for the joint celebration of the tenth anniversary of the founding of the congregation and the commemoration of the Rev. Kalman Kovacsi’s “faithful functioning also for ten years as pastor of the congregation…a church be built in masonry and worthy of the congregation by October 6th, 1911.”- Excerpted from “Peace and Strife”-by Martin L. Kovacs © 1980.