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Stone Church History

History Links:
Beginning: 1944-47
First, the Chapel
Building, 1948-57
Next, 1958-67
Later, 1968-87
Recent, 1988-2007

Ten Years of Building: 1948 - 1957

As the church grew, need for expansion was soon felt and plans were made for a second unit consisting of an Auditorium and Church School rooms. This was built during 1949-50. For five years, worship service were held in the Auditorium. With the completion of the Sanctuary in 1955, the Auditorium was reconfigured as a Social Hall. The cornerstone for the Sanctuary was laid on July 10, 1955, to be opened one hundred years later, in July 2055. Dedication was on November 20, 1955. The beauty of the sanctuary is a gift of and a memorial to the master mason, Manel Sunyer, from Catalonia, Spain, who personally laid out and cut each stone of the center sandstone wall that is the focus of the sanctuary. Until his death, Manel sang in the choir every Sunday.

The Celtic cross in the front of the sanctuary, a replica of the one on the Island of Iona, was covered with gold leaf and presented as a gift from the elders and the pastor. The red eternal light was the gift of Rabbi Gitin of Temple Emanu-El, a leading exponent of religious ecumenicalism. Stained glass windows, pulpit, lectern and chairs, altar and communion table, hymnals, pews (many purchased at $10 per lineal foot as gifts), the original electronic organ and many other articles were given as memorials. These are found listed in the Memory Book at the rear of the Nave. One of the most beautiful of the stained glass windows was, for many years, hidden away in the Choir Director's Office behind and to the left of the chancel. With the major renovation of 2005, this window was moved to a place of honor in the Social Hall.

As the sanctuary was nearing completion, it was suggested that individual members and friends of the church contribute special stones: special in value, unique in shape, color, material or renowned because of association with some place. Among the stones contributed were thunder eggs, jasper, petrified wood, obsidian, a gold nugget from Africa, a piece of King Tut's tomb, a piece of a whale's vertebrae, a rock from the Rock of Gibraltar, stones from the Dead Sea, fragments from the House of Parliament blown off during World War II, pieces from the ancient Wall of China, and an Indian bowl and grinding stone. These can be seen in special arrangements in the Narthex.

With the building of the new sanctuary, the original chapel was subdivided to create a smaller chapel and office space. The cloister connecting the Sanctuary and Social Hall was dedicated to Mrs. Esther Brown, and a bronze plaque honoring her is located in the cloister near the library. It was she who, at a time of crisis when work on the chapel would have stopped for lack of funds, gave a gift of $1000. She was a widow with children and did house work to support herself and her family. After her death, the library was dedicated to Jeannette VanderPloeg, the first church librarian.

The patio between the chapel and sanctuary proved to be a place of fellowship following services and, in 1957, the family of Dr. James Armour Lindsay contributed flagstone from Colorado.

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