Chapel On The Hill: Now Down By The Riverside...

Chapel On The Hill: Now In The Middle Of Copper Center  The historic "Chapel On The Hill" has long been a pretty little place perc...

Chapel On The Hill: Now In The Middle Of Copper Center 

The historic "Chapel On The Hill" has long been a pretty little place perched over the Richardson Highway in Copper Center on a small knoll. It's now more easily viewed, down on the flats across from the Copper River.

The "Chapel On The Hill" is now in front of the traditional cemetery in Copper Center. (Photo, Copper River Country Journal)

The Chapel was built in 1942, with the assistance of military personnel who were stationed at Dry Creek, next to where the current Dry Creek Campground is. It was a project made by Vince Joy, a missionary who came to the Copper Valley and began "SEND" – Central Alaskan Missions.

Not long ago, the Chapel On The Hill was moved down to a new location in Copper Center, next to the Copper Center Chapel. 

Coincidentally, the Chapel on the Hill is now at approximately the same place where the old Russian Orthodox Church in Copper Center once stood. The Russian church predated Vince Joy. 

Russian Orthodox items from the previous church in Copper Center, on display at the Copper Center Museum. (Photo, Country Journal)

Prior to "The Mission" arriving, many Copper Valley people were Russian Orthodox. The impact of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Copper Valley was clearly seen for a long time. There’s a unique cultural style of fenced gravesite that is used in a variety of manners throughout Alaska's Athabascan villages. Including in Copper Center.

And not long ago a number of Ahtna people had Russian names. People were called Basille, Walya, and Sophia. (This is not unique to the Copper Valley. The town of "Wasilla" is based on a Russian name, too. And, of course, so is "Kenai," "Ninilchik," "Nikiski," "Kasilof," and many other places in the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage.)

Clear references to the Copper Valley's long-gone Russian influence can still be seen at the Copper Center Museum.  There's also a small but significant collection of Russian Orthodox icons and memorabilia, inherited by Lisa Yoshimoto from her grandmother, Sophia Lincoln of Copper Center. That collection has been most recently on display at Meiers Lake Roadhouse – but at one time the Russian artifacts were on display in Copper Center.

At this point, the Chapel On The Hill is one of the oldest, best maintained and most interesting historic log cabins in the region.  It's also now far more accessible for viewing and public appreciation.

In the years following the original Chapel On The Hill, a number of churches (many of them in the Copper Valley) were started by Central Alaskan Missions. According to the SEND website:

Eleven churches have been planted by SEND and are now functioning on their own. Some are doing well, and others struggle. They are Glennallen Community Chapel, Kenny Lake Community Chapel, Eagle Bible Chapel, Faith Chapel (Tok), Dawson Gospel Chapel (YT), Mendeltna Community Chapel, Copper Center Community Chapel, Gulkana Community Chapel, Japanese Church in Anchorage, Bettles Bible Chapel, Faro Bible Chapel (YT).

Inside the Chapel. (Photo, Country Journal)

 
Welcome sign on Chapel door. (Photo, Country Journal)

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2020. COPPER RIVER COUNTRY JOURNAL


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