Chapel's Story

Chapel in the Pines
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Chapel in The Pines Story

The Chapel in the Pines traces its roots back to 1947 as a group of people began meeting for Wednesday Night Fellowship and Bible Study. At the time, Twain Harte was nothing more than a wide place in the road along Highway 108. The town didn’t possess a church building, but as the “fellowship” grew, a desire was born to form a congregation and build a local church. Russ and Alva Peters were part of this fledgling body of believers and Russ drew up the architectural plans for Twain Harte’s first church. Materials were donated, volunteer labor sacrificed time, sweat , and pounded a nail or two and the reward was the dedication of the church building (Twain Harte’s first) in May of 1949. This building still stands and is tagged with the name “Old Chapel”. Pastor Bill Callahan, who was also Pastor at Standard Community Church, served as Chapel’s first Pastor.

With the resignation of Pastor Callahan in 1955, Russ Peters became the Senior Pastor and would continue in this capacity until 1984 – a total of 29 years. The vision of the ministry was very family-oriented locally and very mission minded globally. Emphasis was laid on evangelizing those who didn’t know Jesus and equipping the people to be serving others. The lead vision statement – then and now – reads “Put Christ First”. The body of believers grew steadily. Pastor Russ remained as a consulting pastor to the Chapel until his homegoing in 2018.

In 1984, Steve Peters (son of Russ and Alva Peters) was installed as the new Senior Pastor. In the very same time frame, construction began on a larger church building. Pastor Russ also drew up the plans for this new sanctuary. As with the Old Chapel, the new building was a “labor of love” in which many members donated money, time, skills, and sweat to see the building completed. The “New Chapel” was dedicated and celebrated its first service in January 1987.

Pastor Steve, along with his wife Debbie, was greatly used to grow the church. Steve had a great passion in worshipping the Lord and motivating the members and friends to grow in their relationship to the Lord. He was a gifted preacher and he and his wife had a special gift in making everyone feel welcome. He also did much to foster interaction with other local pastors and church leaders. He faithfully served as Senior Pastor despite battling a debilitating illness. He succumbed to the illness in February 2000.

After a search for a new senior pastor, a call was given to Dennis and his wife Alexandra Ortmann to assume the leadership at Chapel.  Although originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, Dennis had lived for over 22 years in Berlin, Germany where he served in a church as a Pastor.  His wife Alexandra was born in Germany. Pulling up their own roots, they moved to Tuolumne County and Dennis was installed into the role of senior pastor in May 2000. He is currently still fulfilling this role. Dennis and Ali envision the Chapel as a unique family placed together by a common faith in Jesus and woven together through the love and working of the Holy Spirit.

Worship, Fellowship, and Evangelism are the building blocks of the Chapel’s vision as we navigate together the challenges of our time.  A faithful adherence to the Bible as the Word of God and a firm reliance upon the working of the Spirit of God belong to the core beliefs of the Chapel.  We have the desire to connect to the larger body of Christ both locally and globally. We desire to effectively function as salt and light and to be faithful to our calling in representing Christ to the world around us.