© Dan Warsinger Photography
Of the structures in public use in
the Yosemite Valley Chapel is now the oldest.
This little New England style church was built under the
sponsorship of the California State Sunday School Association,
partly by subscriptions from the children,
but mainly from the voluntary contributions of
prominent members of the Association.
The Chapel was built in 1879 by those who recognized that
the God who created our wonderful surroundings is even
more incredible than His creation.
As the psalmist declares
"O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places"
Mr. Charles Geddes, a leading architect of San Francisco,
made and presented the plans.
Mr. E. Thomson, also of San Francisco, erected the building
at a cost of between three and four thousand dollars.
It will seat an audience of about two hundred and fifty.
Mr. H. D. Bacon of Oakland donated the bell.
When its first notes rang out on the evening of dedication,
it was the first sound of "the church-going bell" ever heard
the Heart of the Sierras" by James M. Hutchings (1888)]
The first service was held on June 7, 1879, and the church
was filled to overflowing by delegates to the National Sunday
School Assembly who were meeting in Yosemite Valley at that time.
The first organ in the Chapel was given by Miss Mary Porter
of Philadelphia in memory of Florence Hutchings.
Florence was the unofficial, but faithful caretaker of the
Chapel during the summer of 1879-1881.
She died in a climbing accident at the tender age of 17.
In 1887, on the death of President Grant, a memorial service
was held in the Chapel.
The organist for the day was Sir Arthur Sullivan,
famed composer and collaborator with Sir William Gilbert
in the famous Gilbert and Sullivan light operas.
Sir Arthur was visiting in the Valley at the time and
was asked to assist in the service.
The original location of the Chapel structure was
on rising ground near the base of the Four Mile trail,
a mile or so down the Valley from its present site
on the south side of Yosemite Valley.
In the passage of years, the old Chapel, built in the midst of a
busy community, lost one by one its companion buildings, until,
with the moving on of community activity to other parts of the
Valley, it stood alone.
In 1901, it was taken down and moved to its present site.
The Yosemite Valley Chapel was given Historic American building
status by the National Park Service in 1965.
Following this, its interior was restored and
a new foundation was placed under it.
This little Chapel continues to serve as a place of worship for
residents and visitors alike, as it has done for over 100 years.
By opening to God's love and embracing His plan for our lives,
we can know Him personally, fellowship with Him continuously,
and worship Him eternally.
Over the years we have maintained that emphasis and, to this
day, Yosemite Community Church continues to be a church
where God's children are welcome, Christ Jesus our Savior is
exalted, and His Word is proclaimed.
All for the glory of God.
To be a caring community of believers serving as a center for
spiritual growth and renewal where those who live, work, and
visit in Yosemite National Park may encounter the living
Christ through joyful worship, Bible study, and regular fellowship.
While striving to bring others to Christ by invitation and example,
we are called to minister to the spiritual, physical, and emotional
needs of every person as God gives us strength and direction
through the Holy Spirit.
Our ministry, the activities associated with the Chapel, are
by definition an outflow of our mission, which, in turn, is
born out of the purpose for which the Chapel was originally
Therefore, services and ceremonies conducted in the Chapel,
by nature, must reflect that mission and purpose which
adhere to the basic tenets of the Christian faith.