Sunrise at Pulpit Rock

Chief Edmo and family pose in regalia at Pulpit Rock in The Dalles in this historical photograph. A celebration of the Methodist Mission in The Dalles, founded 180 years ago, will be held at the rock April 1.

To celebrate the 180th year since the founding of the Methodist Mission in The Dalles, the Masonic Lodge and the First United Methodist Church will hold an Easter sunrise service at Pulpit Rock.

The service at Pulpit Rock — 12th and Court streets, immediately south of The Dalles High School — begins at 6:30 a.m. on April 1.

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

Music will be provided by Carolyn Homer on the keyboard and the Samoan Singers, a local group.

Jim Wilcox will lead the worship service and Dick LaFever gives the invocation.

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 1840’s, they held a series of camp meetings at Pulpit Rock, with the boulder 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 historical site.

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