July 16th, 1949
Dedication of the cornerstone and the consecration of the building site
The Chapel’s cornerstone has not been cut or shaped in any way except by nature. Just as the builders were about to give up finding a stone of natural triangular shape to fit in with the Chapel design, a worker from a nearby estate provided a rock he had found and saved years earlier. The actor Charles Laughton read from the 107th Psalm during the dedication service, ending with verse 30: “Then they were glad because they had quiet and God brought them to their desired haven.” The biblical imagery of the first and last, the Greek letters alpha and omega (A Ω), are carved into the cornerstone.
May 13th, 1951
Dedication of the Chapel by the Rev. Leonard Tafel
The round circles of glass symbolize the inclusiveness of the Chapel and the comprehensiveness of the services it is to render: all-inclusive, the whole concept of life itself is expressed within this circular area. Incised on the altar and the steps leading to the altar are the beginning words of the Lord’s Prayer. It may seem that the prayer is unfinished, however, the architect envisioned Jesus’ words flowing from the altar to the people for their everyday use. The plantings in the Chapel were specified by Lloyd Wright because they are found on the forest floor. They are intended to make the exterior and interior one. Plants growing outside are brought inside to make the glass enclosure as inconspicuous as possible.
Hallelujah Tower constructed; beam planter walls, sidewalks, and Reflection Pool added
Lloyd Wright conceived it as a “hallelujah” tower, with wings and a sense of soaring, like upraised hands holding the cross on high. The gold cross is 60 feet above the floor of the Chapel. Sailors using the Catalina channel at night have dubbed the floodlit tower “God’s Candle.” The blue terra cotta roof tile was selected to match the blue sky following the architect’s desire to use only natural colors. The tower is embedded in the ground two full stories and is firmly anchored into the hillside.
Colonnade and original Visitors Center built
Lloyd Wright used an unusual method to construct the various walls and pillars of the Chapel. Stones with their best side facing out were wired inside plywood forms and cement was poured around them. When it was dry, the wires were cut and the forms removed. No cement touch-up work was permitted so the unfinished appearance would carry the natural terrain into the walls. You can find remains of the rusted wire in the stone pillars of the colonnade.
Baptismal font installed
The design of the baptismal font represents a tiny underground mountain spring bubbling to the surface. The water corresponds to pure truth from the fountain of all truth, the Word of God, and the cleansing and freeing power of that truth. The sign of the cross, made upon the forehead with water, is the traditional Christian symbol indicating: that the person will be raised as a Christian, will be taught to follow the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior, and further displays that they are received into the community of the Christian church. At Wayfarers Chapel, we do not baptize into our specific Christian denomination, but into the Lord’s church on earth, the church in the broad ecumenical concept of it.
Hillside Stream dedicated
The stream symbolizes the basic Swedenborgian belief that life flows into us from God is to be used by us in service to our neighbor and is then to be returned to God in thanksgiving and praise. Just to the right of the pond is an apple tree dedicated to John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, an early Swedenborgian missionary.
The 16-bell carillon installed in the Hallelujah Tower
The bells rang for the first time on Christmas Eve of 1978. Since then, they have played a Westminster Chime to mark each quarter-hour. At the conclusion of every marriage ceremony at the Chapel, the Minister prompts the carillon to play a wedding peal.
Glass Loggia constructed
The glass loggia was the last building Lloyd Wright designed for the Chapel before his death on May 31, 1978. It was completed in 1979. The “prow” of the loggia, where glass meets glass, was one of his innovative constructs. The same design is used in the Chapel and loggia roofs. The gold diamond-shaped panels on the loggia roof, coupled with the 30/60 degree angles, symbolize geometric leaf patterns.
Memorial Fountain in the reflection pool installed
In Swedenborgian theology, water symbolizes Divine truth which is what enables us to lead creative and useful lives. The triangular shape of the pool symbolizes one of the basic teachings of Christianity: God as a triune being and individuals as having a soul, mind, and body. At night, lights shine up from the fountain waters and cast a blue glow on the trees overhead. The garden between the reflection pool and the Chapel features plantings duplicating the appearance of the floor of a redwood forest, such as azaleas, rhododendron, coral bells, irises, and a variety of ferns.
Celebration Lights installed. Designed by Eric Lloyd Wright, son of Lloyd Wright
Celebration lights have been placed in various gardens around the Chapel and Visitors Center to illuminate the gardens at night. Light sponsors have their names, event, and celebration year inscribed on brass plaques mounted on the hoods.
Original Visitors Center and a section of the colonnade are removed because of extensive damage by land movement
A spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean can be seen from the outdoor grass amphitheater. The amphitheater with its grass terraces, is used for concerts, dramatic productions, and Easter Sunrise Service. The trees behind the back wall of the amphitheater are Hollywood Junipers, standing like sentinels.
May 20th, 2001
50th anniversary celebration and dedication of the new Visitors Center
To complement his father’s Chapel architecture, Eric Lloyd Wright used similar materials in the Visitors Center: blue roof tiles, Palos Verdes stone walls and planting berms, gold paint, and the front glass “prow” where glass meets glass. The Visitors Center welcomes thousands of visitors every year. You are encouraged to view the various displays and learn more about the story of the Wayfarers Chapel including the services offered, the architecture of Lloyd Wright, Emanuel Swedenborg, and the Swedenborgian Church.
July 11th, 2005
Wayfarers Chapel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places with the Department of the Interior
When the Chapel was first built it stood alone like a precious jewel on a then-deserted dusty knoll overlooking the Pacific. It was soon christened “the glass church,” after its most prominent architectural feature. However, what you are looking at is not a glass church, but a tree chapel. The mission of the Wayfarers Chapel is to nurture the spiritual journey of wayfarers. Wayfarers Chapel is a Swedenborgian church that welcomes people of all faiths to our worship services and to celebrate other important passages of life.