“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”
In The Beginning
A Dream Comes True
A Dream Comes True
Wayfarers Chapel began as a dream in the mind of Elizabeth Schellenberg, a member of the Swedenborgian Church who lived on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in the late 1920s. The Peninsula was largely open farmland. A two-lane gravel road was skirting the shoreline from San Pedro to Palos Verdes Estates.
Mrs. Schellenberg dreamed of a little chapel on a hillside above the Pacific Ocean where wayfarers could stop to rest, meditate and give thanks to God for the wonder and beauty of creation. Narcissa Cox Vanderlip, also a member of the Swedenborgian Church, responded to the dream and agreed to contribute land for the chapel site. The depression of the 1930s and World War II forced a delay in developing the plans for the Chapel.
Lloyd Wright, Chapel Architect
Following the war organic architect Lloyd Wright, son of the renowned American architectural pioneer Frank Lloyd Wright, was urged to apply his genius to the project. Lloyd Wright found himself in complete accord with the positive outlook of the Swedenborgian Church and its emphasis on harmony between God’s natural world and the inner world of mind and spirit.
Memorial to Swedenborg
The 3.5 acres site and Wayfarers Chapel’s cornerstone was dedicated on July 16, 1949 by the Reverend Dr. Leonard I. Tafel of Philadelphia, then president of the national Swedenborgian denomination. The completed Chapel was dedicated in 1951 as a memorial to Emanuel Swedenborg, theologian and scientist from the 1700’s. Swedenborg’s spiritual illumination of the Bible is the basis for its sponsoring Christian denomination, the Swedenborgian Church.
When the Chapel was completed in 1951 it stood alone like a precious jewel on a deserted dusty knoll overlooking the blue Pacific. Today what you are looking at is a “tree chapel.” Chapel architect Lloyd Wright had been inspired by the cathedral-like majesty of the redwood trees in northern California. The redwood trees that surround Wayfarers Chapel are forming living walls and roof to a natural sanctuary encased in glass with view of the surrounding forest and nearby Pacific Ocean. These are typical traits of Organic Architecture, which aims at using nature as the framework and regards the space inside as sacred. Lloyd Wright’s design of Wayfarers Chapel is the perfect combination of nature and architectural genius and is one of the foremost examples of organic architecture.
Wayfarers Chapel is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Beliefs That Interconnect With All Of Life
The first Swedenborgian church was organized in London in 1787. Swedenborg’s teachings were brought to America and a church was started in Baltimore in 1792. The Swedenborgian Church has since grown and spread throughout the world.
A forward-looking Christian denomination, the Swedenborgian Church was founded to help people be more open to the Lord’s presence and leading, to facilitate the spiritual well-being of people, and to increase awareness of the new age in which we live.
Since the beginning, The Swedenborgian Church has become a haven for seekers who share Swedenborg’s quest for a religion that interconnects with all of life, and for a system that allows reasoned questioning of life’s deepest religious issues. To this day, the Swedenborgian Church encourages inquiry, respect for differences, and acceptance of other traditions of life and religion.
Wayfarers Chapel, which is sponsored by The Swedenborgian Church, is dedicated to the glory of God and serves as a national memorial to Emanuel Swedenborg, 18th century scientist, philosopher and theologian.
The thirty volumes of theology Swedenborg authored make up the theological and philosophical perspectives that are the core of Swedenborgian belief.
The Search For A Greater Fulfillment
Emanuel Swedenborg was born in 1688 in Stockholm, Sweden, at the dawn of the “Age of Enlightenment” when Europeans were stressing the importance of scientific reason and rationality.
A Leading Scientist
Young Emanuel was educated at the University of Uppsala where he demonstrated his rare gift in science and mathematics. Extensive publication established him by 1734 as one of Europe’s leading scientists in such diverse areas as mathematics, geology, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, astronomy, and anatomy. According to numerous authorities, many of Swedenborg’s insights in these fields anticipated revolutionary scientific discoveries and theories of our own time.
Swedish House of Nobles
In addition, Swedenborg served as a member of the Swedish House of Nobles where he authored advanced monetary and fiscal policies.
An Uncommon Man
Swedenborg learned such crafts as bookbinding, watchmaking, lens grinding, carpentry, engraving, and drafting by taking up residence in the homes where the crafts had been perfected. His breadth of interests and prolific studies made him an uncommon man. His later work revealed him, however, as even more exceptional.
Swedenborg’s all-consuming desire for scientific knowledge began to find a companion: a desire for religious understanding. He examined the relationship between the body and the soul, attempting to discover the nature of the spiritual being residing within human personality. After a profound spiritual experience in his mid-fifties, he devoted the rest of his life to religion.
In preparation for his subsequent work, Swedenborg studied the Bible in its original languages with his well-trained scientist’s care for precision and detail. He wrote volumes on numerous portions of the Bible and on other subjects of Christian theology. The latter part of his religious search, writing, and publishing was done in London where he died in 1772.
Emanuel Swedenborg achieved success in three distinct careers–scientist, statesman, and theologian. Emerson called him “a colossal soul” and counted him as one of the “representative men” of the world such as Plato, Montaigne, Shakespeare, and Goethe.
A Useful Life
The height, breadth, and depth of Swedenborg’s life and thought sweep the widest possible range of human life from our inner, mystical experiences to everyday lives of usefulness. In him, for example, we find an inspiration to search for a greater fulfillment of our God-given potential through the cultivation of heightened awareness, holistic living, and right-brained, intuitive knowledge. At the same time, we hear Swedenborg reminding us of our duty to lead a useful life, doing practical things to meet our neighbors’ needs and striving to bring God’s kingdom on earth.
To Do Good
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772):
• viewed God as infinitely loving and at the very center of our being,
• viewed human life as a continuous re-birthing as we participate in our own creation,
• viewed the Bible as a story of inner-life stages as we learn and grow,
• and had conviction that life continues following the transition we call death to eternity of growing fulfillment.
He said; “All religion relates to life, and the life of religion is to do good”
There is one God whose essence is Divine Love and Wisdom. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all aspects of God just as body, mind, and soul are all aspects of one person.
The Bible is the inspired Word of God that provides inspiration and help to lead better and more fulfilling lives. The literal sense of Scripture tells the story of the people of God, and contains a deeper meaning that illumines the journey of the human soul. People are essentially spirits clothed with material bodies. At death, the material body is laid aside and the person continues to live on in the world of spirit choosing a heavenly life or a hellish one, based on the quality of life choices made here.
God gives everyone the freedom to choose their beliefs and live their lives accordingly.
Salvation is available for people of all religions.
The Second Coming has taken place—and in fact still is taking place. It is not an actual physical appearance of the Lord, but rather his return in spirit and truth that is being effected as a present reality.
God is infinitely loving and at the center of every life.
Truth is love in action. Actions performed out of love are genuine expressions in a physical form of what love means.
The Lloyd Wright Legacy
Following the war organic architect Lloyd Wright, son of the famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, was asked to apply his genius to the project.
Lloyd Wright found himself in complete accord with the positive outlook of the Swedenborgian Church and its emphasis on harmony between God’s natural world and the inner world of mind and spirit.