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Community-built church will close

Roof over 20,000 rocks too much for small group

 

The Coulee Dam Community Church, the rock church, will likely see its final worship service within a month. - Roger S. Lucas photo

The historic Coulee Dam Community Church will soon close.

One official at the church, Jerry Kennedy, said that the Christmas Eve service and one later in the month could be the final services.

The late December gathering has been set for Dec. 27, at 3 p.m. The community is invited to attend and encouraged to comment on their memories of the church and share any pictures they may have.

The church has had an aging, and diminishing number in, its congregation for a long time. About 20 attend on a regular basis.

The stone edifice is classic and its interior chapel is recognized for its acoustic quality.

Kennedy said last week that the church is in need of a new roof and that the handful of regulars can no longer keep it up.

The church hasn't had its own pastor since 2013, and the pastor of the Church of the Nazarene has been filling in until recently.

The building is owned by the Presbyterian Church, whose representative is due here Dec. 14, to discuss the church's plan to close.

The stone edifice was built in 1950, using craftsmen who were associated with Grand Coulee Dam. Before the stone church was built, a wooden community church stood on that same corner, 509 Central Drive.

The workmanship in both the stonework and wood carvings is extraordinary.

The cornerstone of the church was laid Oct. 26, 1951. In all, there are 20,000 stones in the church. Church records state that each stone was selected for its shape, size and color and was handled at least seven times before reaching its destination.

Many of the stones were selected from the hills around the coulee, and several were brought to the area by townspeople who were visiting the areas they had come from and brought stones back to place as part of the church. Most of the states west of the Mississippi have stones in the classic church.

One stone was brought over from England by Dan E. Peterson, son of the then-pastor. A brass plate states: "Above stone was part of pinnacle east end of York Minster, England. Dated Circa AD 1500. Sent by A. Crocker, York, 1953."

The construction of the stone church took years and relied on local talent, whose numbers were very careful with their work.

Gone is the use of a great edifice, where bell concerts and other musical activities filled the acoustics of the stone walls with delightful sound. But the building's other community uses have also been many, including piano recitals, community meetings and dinners. It has been used for many school functions, including Lake Roosevelt High School's annual right of passage for seniors - their oral board interviews.

It will be missed.

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