A Place to Sing and Pray: A Story of Faith
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“A Place to Sing and Pray: A Story of Faith,” Friend, Aug. 2004, 42

A Place to Sing and Pray:
A Story of Faith

(Based on a true story; taken from historical sources)

In 1862, six-year-old Clara Leonard lived in the town of Farmington, Utah, where more than 150 pioneer families had settled. There were log homes, rock homes, and adobe homes. They had a schoolhouse, a courthouse, and a mill for grinding wheat. But they did not have a church house. They needed a place to sing and pray.

Sometimes they held church meetings in one of the homes, but there wasn’t enough room for everyone.

Sometimes they held church meetings in the schoolhouse, but it wasn’t big enough, either.

Sometimes they held church meetings in the upper room of the adobe courthouse, but the county officials decided it could no longer be used for religious meetings.

They needed a place to sing and pray.

A lovely place, right on Main Street, was chosen as the site to build their chapel. It was next to Brother Haight’s house and hotel and across the street from Brother Penrose’s house. It would be a wonderful place for a chapel. But the church members had no money to buy building materials.

Everyone in town donated all they could to the building fund. Clara and her family worked hard to earn some extra money to give to Bishop Hess. But after all the money was counted, the building fund had only twelve dollars. They needed much more to build a beautiful place to sing and pray.

The people held a prayer meeting. They knelt and asked the Lord what to do. They had done all they could, and now they needed His help. They had faith that the Lord would know what was best.

A few days later there was a huge storm. It rained and rained. There was mud everywhere. The wind blew very hard, and some trees fell down. Clara had to stay inside all day long.

The next morning, when the storm was over, the men from the town found a rockslide about three blocks from the church lot. Tons of large rocks had slid down from the mountain. Not far from the rockslide was a place where lots of sand and gravel had washed down from the mountain, too.

There was enough rock to build a chapel! The sand and gravel could be used to make the mortar to hold the rocks together. They knew the Lord had heard their prayers and blessed them. They soon would have a place to sing and pray!

Everyone in town helped build the chapel. Some of the men hauled the rocks with ox teams. Some of the men laid the rocks to make the walls. Others worked as carpenters on the inside of the chapel, while still others made benches and tables. Even the children helped by carrying drinking water or serving food prepared by the Relief Society sisters. The chapel was 40 feet wide and 60 feet long. The stone walls were three feet thick.

As they worked, they were able to raise the rest of the money needed to complete their chapel. After two years of construction, the building was finally finished. On 9 January 1864, President Brigham Young and Elder Wilford Woodruff of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles came to Farmington to dedicate the building. Even though there was a thick blanket of snow on the ground, it was a day of jubilee and rejoicing. After the dedication, the town’s brass band played, and everyone celebrated.

At last they had a place to meet. Clara loved to go to church. She felt a sweet spirit of reverence there and found joy in hearing her leaders teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sacrament was passed—the bread on silver trays and the water in a tall silver cup with handles on both sides. A piano was donated, and later they got an organ. It was a wonderful place to sing and pray!

Twelve years later, after Clara was grown, this beautiful rock chapel was the place where Sister Aurelia Rogers began the very first Primary. Clara was there to play the organ and was also appointed the treasurer of this new organization.

Now, more than 130 years later, the building is still a beautiful place to sing and pray.

  • Shauna Gibby is a member of the Country Oaks Ward, Layton Utah Kays Creek Stake.

Illustrated by Gregg Thorkelson