News & Announcements

Let Us Together Hold Wayfarers Chapel in the Light

Dear Friends and Members of the Swedenborgian Church of North America,

Wayfarers Chapel lies in the coastal Abalone Cove area of Palos Verdes, California, which began to experience some landslide activity in July of 2023 due to the heavy rains the previous winter. Damage we are seeing from this new land movement on the Chapel grounds includes gradual formation of cracks in some of the concrete stairs, floors, and sidewalks, as well as some heaving in the asphalt parking lot. Underground we’ve experienced breakage of some pipes. Thankfully to date, however, the chapel itself has been less affected than other areas of the campus to the north and west.

To date, visitors and guests are hard pressed to notice any damage to the chapel itself. The principal effect on the chapel so far is that slight shifts in the foundation of the chapel have caused the steel framing in the chapel’s glass walls to shift by a quarter inch or so. While these shifts in the steel frame of the glass walls are not visually noticeable, they have, at times, caused glass panels to crack. We are pleased to share that in early January 2024 we applied a nearly invisible safety film to all the chapel’s wall glass panels. As we go forward, if a glass panel cracks, the safety film is designed to hold the cracked panel securely in place until it is replaced.

Wayfarers Chapel also is investing in geological studies of the landslide as a first step toward remediation, partnering with the City of Rancho Palos Verdes and the state government to better understand and hopefully solve the underlying cause of the current land movement. Geologic experts believe the land movement is related to high levels of water in the ground on the hillside neighborhoods above the chapel. Good reasons exist for believing the current land movement will decrease substantially once the de-watering program has been fully operational for some months. While this expectation is grounded in good science, it is not possible to predict how many weeks or months it will take for this to occur.

Wayfarers Chapel was graced with a very special Christmas gift in December 2023 when it was officially granted National Historic Landmark status by the U.S. Department of the Interior. The power of Wayfarers Chapel as a place of seeking spiritual insight and new vision for life is not an insignificant story in the history of American religious architecture.

We ask that you join us in prayerful hope as we strive to preserve one of our national spiritual treasures.

Thank you,

Rev. Dr. Jim Lawrence, President, Swedenborgian Church of North America
Peter Gottschalk, Wayfarers Board chair
Robert Carr, Wayfarers Board member