To celebrate the 179th year since the founding of the Methodist Mission in The Dalles, the First United Methodist Church and Zion Lutheran Church are hosting a worship service this Sunday at Pulpit Rock.

The service at Pulpit Rock — at 12th and Court streets, immediately south of The Dalles High School — begins at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by a potluck at the United Methodist Church, 305 E. 11th St.

The public is welcome to attend, and other local congregations and United Methodist churches throughout the area have been invited.

In 1838, the Revs. Daniel and Jason Lee and Rev. HWK Perkins arrived at The Dalles to begin their mission primarily worshipping with the Native Americans in the area.

They found a good source of water near what is known as Amaton Spring where the Native Americans watered their horses, and they found a spot of land to settle, which is on the same site as the present First United Methodist Church.

This is where the Wasco Tribe helped them build a cabin, a church, a school, and a garden area. It was known as the mission at Wascopam.

In the 1840s, they held a series of camp meetings at Pulpit Rock, with the jutting rock serving as a natural pulpit. At many of the meetings, tribes from the Cascades, Wishram, Caclasco, Wallah, and Clikatat camped. The meetings drew 1,200 to 1,400 people at a time.

Rev. Daniel Lee had a gift for languages and he learned the languages of most of the tribes in the area. He was able to find translators among the tribes for the tongues he didn’t know.

White Swan, chief of the Yakamas, said Lee was a student of the Indian languages and learned many of them. He could tell his story in those languages. This is why “Whiteman missionary” worked for them, he said.

Pulpit Rock is the only remaining artifact of the Methodist Mission, for which it has been designated as a Methodist Historical Site.

Karen Broehl of United Methodist Church said, “Our church has a new intern each year. It is kind of a special thing for them to get to preach in the same place as these historic figures did.”

Last year, intern pastor Adam Jenkins even rode up to the service on a horse, dressed as a circuit rider.

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