A little church with a big view: the Chapel of the Transfiguration
This little country chapel at the base of the Tetons continues to inspire and amaze nearly 100 years after it first opened its doors…
For many of us, the beauty of nature seems to beckon our thoughts to a higher power- of a creator responsible for breathtaking mountain vistas and majestic wild animals. It seems fitting, then, to build a quaint little country church right at the base of one of the nation’s most stunning natural features, the Teton mountain range.
Truth be told, the reason for building this famed church weren’t quite as romantic…
Making it to church on Sundays in Jackson, WY was just too tough for the folks out in the country.
Prior to its completion, ranchers had to make a pretty arduous journey all the way into town (Jackson) each Sunday if they wanted to attend church. This included a long, bumpy ride and a ferry across the always-challenging Snake River.
Push came to shove in 1923 when Menor’s Ferry broke and churchgoers had to really take the long way for some Sunday worship. Maud Noble, owner of the ferry, donated land for the chapel and a design was nailed down based on Our Father’s House, another Wyoming chapel built with windows showcasing the Wind River Mountains.
Named for Mark 9:2-13, the name is fitting and beautiful when you consider the main window of the church frames the Teton’s “3 Cathedrals.” Here’s a snippet of Mark 9…
After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
The Chapel of Transfiguration first held services in 1925 and has been actively holding summer services ever since, featuring different clergy as they rotate in-and-out each month.
While the chapel is run by St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jackson, they graciously keep this historic landmark open for all people of all faiths to enjoy during the weekdays and, of course, invite all to their Sunday services as well as special Christmas, Easter, and Valentines Day services.
With a setting like this, it’s no wonder the chapel has become a favorite for brides across the globe. In fact, aside from a few structural supports, the only change to the church has been the addition of a bride’s cabin in 2006. Otherwise, the chapel sits mostly as it was when it first welcomed cowboys in 1925.
For those visiting Grand Teton National Park, the chapel is often the very first stop once entering the park from the Moose entrance. It’s no wonder the Chapel of the Transfiguration is one of the most photographed little chapels in the world.
If you plan on visiting, be sure to ring the bell, spend a moment or two in prayer or reflection inside, and sneak around the back to grab a picture of the Tetons reflected in the chapel’s main window.
Source: Jackson Hole Magazine