Alpine church still home to services
September 10, 2016
"Alpiners are a tough set." reported Rev. M.W. Pratt in July of 1876. Pratt preached in Woodfords, Markleeville, and then Silver Mountain City in a county that built many saloons, but had no church until 1999.
The earliest reference to any gathering of a religious nature is provided by the author Turrentine Jackson, who wrote that the Rev. Pettit of Volcano came to preach at Monitor and Silver Mountain City (now both ghost towns) and ended the day with a sermon in Markleeville. There are newspaper and quarterly publication references to Sunday Schools in Silver Mountain (1864-67), in Fredericksburg in 1898, and on the Gansberg Ranch in Woodfords in 1923. Judge Arnot's wife also taught Sunday School in the courthouse that predates our current structure.
There was a tent revival in the ghost town of Summit City in 1863, and gatherings in Monitor Town Hall and the District Court room in Markleeville. All of these were temporal and separate events, not tied to any specific location nor to any continuing religious group. Tent revivals have continued in Alpine County up to the present time.
It was not until one snowy evening that the vision for an actual church building manifested itself. George and Cami Chavez own Woodfords Auto and Towing and they were together in the big tow truck on a late night call. The outside light was on at the old CalTrans building, built in the 1920s, next to their garage. They had purchased it in the 1980s from the county. As the flakes fell, the building seemed to glow, and Cami felt pure inspiration: this would be their church.
The Alpine Christian Community Church began meeting in people's homes from the early 1970s. There were many families involved in the formation of the church: Barrett, Betts, Craik, Clark, Coyan, Stephens, Fogarty, Bennett, Halverson, Moke, and Smith. The Rev. Eberhart Weidemeyer was their pastor from 1973 to 1984. Impassioned artwork by his wife, the now deceased Carol Weidenmeyer, graces the walls of the church today.
In 1985-86, Dick Lyons was minister, and they met in the old schoolhouse in Fredericksburg. They had just moved all the church belongings out to make way for the gravel pit office when the structure was consumed by fire in 1986. They met variously in people's homes and the Diamond Valley school gym until the time the church was remodeled by contractor Nick Hartzell.
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Cami's brother, now Sheriff Rick Stephens, had lived in the house, as had Dave Woffinden. It had been rented to snowboarders for one season also. There were walls removed, ceilings lifted, and lighting installed to get it to where it is today.
Ron Rhoads has been pastor since 1999, and his wife, Marianne, is the associate pastor. Everyone is welcome at the church. Rather than being limited by a rigid doctrine, it is all inclusive, and seeks to honor God through worship, community service, and mutual support based on the teachings of the Bible. George Chavez says that they offer communion to everyone each weekend, feeling that we should be imbued with the spirit of God on a regular basis to help keep us on the path that Jesus has envisioned.
The church is located at 150 Old Pony Express Road in Woodfords, Calif. You can see its charming steeple from the intersection at Highway 88 that leads to Markleeville. Current projects include creating fundraising events to raise money so they can historically preserve the nearly hundred year old siding on the building.
They meet each Sunday at 10 a.m., with fellowship following. A Bible study group meets on Tuesday evenings. The church community invites you to take part in the experience of joining together with like-minded souls to honor and explore the holiness present in your life.
The church can be reached at 530 694-1819 for additional information and service times during the holidays.