Pictured: Mammoth Community Church (Photo courtesy Everson)/
By Pastor Justin Everson
Fifty years ago, Protestant locals and visitors held religious services at the Mammoth Lakes Firehouse and Community Hall, making the desire for a Protestant church a reality. The following are excerpts from past church minutes which detail the founding of Mammoth Community church 50 years ago:
May 8, 1962: At 8:45 p.m., in the Firehouse Community Hall, the congregation attending the evening mid-week service, and all parties interested in the forming of a Mammoth Community Protestant Church, met to form just such a church. Pastor E. F. Brown, presiding over the meeting, suggested that the congregation form as the Mammoth Presbyterian Church, becoming a part of the Mono County Larger Parish. By a show of 19 hands, Pastor Brown s suggestion was voted down unanimously in favor of organizing as the Mammoth Community Church. Those voting represented the Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Christian, Lutheran, Assembly of God, and Baptist denominations. The newly formed Mammoth Community Church was organized as an inter-denominational community church in cooperation with the Mono County Larger Parish,
May 12, 1962: A meeting of the Board of Trustees together with the Forest Service was held in the office of the Assistant District Ranger Kenneth Chilman, in the absence of Mr. William Murphy, District Ranger. The board inquired as to the procedure for obtaining a Special Use Permit. Mr. Chilman suggested the possibility of the land site incorporating the proposed Forest Service Visitors Building site and parking lot. Ranger Chilman told the board that a forest service architect would be in the area in two weeks. At that time he would instruct them as to where they might build the church. What was known is that the Forest Service wanted the church to be built of native rock.
June 28, 1962: A 20-year land use permit was obtained. The Forest Service leased the parcel of land to the Mammoth Community Church at the present site for $1 annually.
While some improvements have since been made, this building is truly a unique example of the 1960s period mountain architecture designed by the National Forest Service and predating even the incorporation of the town of Mammoth Lakes.
It must be said that the legacy of any church is more than a building, for the true church is its congregation. And yet, a building may reflect its tenets. One might ask, Is it used in ways that reflect The Creator, or in ways that only reflect those who created it? Is it neglected or is it cared for? Does it stand the test of time, or is it forgotten and abandoned? After all, a building is only as good as the congregation that envisions and builds it.
This building was erected and dedicated for the Glory of God-in-Christ and the betterment of the spiritual life of the Community of Mammoth Lakes. I pray this will always be so.
During a meeting, when the Town was considering the highest good and best use of Suite Z, which at the time involved an occupying Church versus a proposed Town Meeting room, a former Town official asked the attending pastors, “What good is a church?” I’ve never forgotten that. And so I’ve asked myself many times, “What good is the Mammoth Community Church?” It is difficult to summarize what contributions this small church has made through 50 years of service but hopefully the following highlights will give us an idea of what good a church might be: We have maintained a tradition of Vacation Bible School, Birthday for Jesus, and Bible Club that ministered to approximately 4,500 children; a Sunday School that ministered to 12,000 children and 15,600 adults; worship services that included 73,000 adults; a sports ministry at Mammoth Mountain that has reached 38,000 skiers; 50 years of support for 30 different missionaries; approximately 8,000 converts; the 8-year sponsorship of the Boy Scouts of America troop 370, and the Explorer Aviation Program; 12 years of participation with the Town Clean Up Day; a faithful commitment to influence the culture of the Mammoth Lakes region which has included hosting the Bonn University Choir for Beethoven s ninth at 9,000 feet, the Jazz Jubilee Sunday Jazz services, Blackwood Brothers Quartet; development of a worship team that has periodically included, a bell-choir, worship band with violins, trumpets, drums, guitars, and piano; I could go on. Not included in this summary are the counseling sessions, weddings, burials, hospital visits and donations provided over 50 years of ministry. It is apparent from this review that our church has contributed much to our community. And ours is but a small one of several. Just think of what all the churches in Mammoth Lakes have contributed to our Town and this entire area. I say, God bless them.