Big hearts help restore tiny Sultan chapel

SULTAN — Goodwill protects the tiny chapel.

It’s called the Wayside Chapel. At most it can hold about a dozen people.

It stands steps away from U.S. 2 west of Sultan, surrounded by farmland. Many drivers zip by without noticing the white building.

Traffic rumbles the chapel. Winds whisper inside.

Local people believe it’s one of the smallest worship places in the country.

Some come in to clear their minds. Some find a moment of peace and solace.

Others come to damage the chapel. Tiny pews have been busted. Graffiti has been scribbled on the tiny windows. The inside has been wrecked.

But it remains a place of hope and prayer. Its sign reads: “Pause. Rest. Worship.”

“It’s a house of God to me,” said Robert Forbes, 17.

The Monroe High School senior is restoring the chapel as his Eagle Scout project. His mentor Ron Burnes, a Boy Scout leader, gave Forbes the idea. With help from his father Jeffrey, Robert Forbes has worked on the project for about 300 hours since June.

Robert Forbes and other Scouts cleaned the chapel, replaced spray-painted windows, took out aging floors and put down new tiles.

They painted over graffiti.

A few days later, vandals came back and sprayed more graffiti.

The Scouts painted it over again. Youth members from New Hope Fellowship pitched in. The Monroe church owns the chapel and plans to pay $600 for the renovation.

Hilkeline Beekman, who attended the church and owned a dairy farm at the site years ago, donated the chapel, said Brad Pattie, a church member. The chapel was dedicated Oct. 12, 1962, the day of the Columbus Day storm. The weather was too wild for people to gather at the chapel, so instead, they dedicated it at their main church building.

The church has counted on volunteers such as Forbes to keep the chapel tidy and clean, Pattie, 65, said.

They have made a difference for countless people, Pattie said. Many couples have married at the chapel. Some pause and rest, looking at the snow-capped mountains in the Skykomish Valley.

“When you look at who that chapel is serving, it’s just anyone; everyone,” he said.

People write down their prayers and thoughts inside the chapel. They leave their notes in a small box. Pattie has kept track of those notes.

One time, a daughter asked people to pray for her divorcing parents.

Another time, a mother praised God for saving her premature son.

Someone wrote: “What a blessed presence in this little chapel! There must be ‘angels’ guarding this place.”

Another wrote: “The peace here is wonderful! It is an oasis in our deserts. Thank you!”

Forbes said he used to pay little attention to the tiny structure before he started his project. Now, he is attached to the chapel.

“It’s a good feeling to be in that little chapel,” he said. “It’s almost like nothing can harm you when you are inside.”

All the renovation work is set to wrap up in time for Christmas, Forbes said.

Reporter Yoshiaki Nohara: 425-339-3029 or ynohara@heraldnet.com.

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