Cliffside Chapel was built in 1961 upon donated farmland on the outskirts of Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. The farmland originally belonged to a family by the name of Inquist. The congregation moved out to the farm to build their own chapel and school. The remaining land became a community of member's homes. Though the farmland was left in a will to the entire congregation, some of the Inquist descendants tend to view themselves as privileged members. This can make for some difficulties.
Cliffside Chapel itself was built on the highest point of farmland---a lovely spot atop a steep embankment of the Grand River---with a view of the winding river and wooded valley stretching away to the east and south. The congregation chose this highest point of land upon religious principle---to represent that God and the church should be held in first place above everything else. However, that one bit of high ground had been specially bequeathed to farmer Inquist's great niece. That niece solved the problem when she leased the land to the church at the rate of one dollar a year indefinitely.
And so the congregation built Cliffside Chapel.
Cliffside Chapel was built in an architectural style popular in the early 1960s. The natural cedar chancel walls and ceiling, in their geometric planes, make a pleasing compliment the fieldstone walls. The stained glass is simple and contemporary. The pews are arranged in a semi circle, lending an atmosphere of intimacy during the worship services. And every musician who has had the priviledge to perform at Cliffside has remarked on the chapel's wonderful accoustics.
You'll often find the Reverend Stephen Shantz, Cliffside's current pastor, in his office if you'd like a chat. If he's not there, you'll likely find him in his cozy home just across the field, where he lives with his wife Liz, and their six children.
But be warned. Not everything is rosy at Cliffside Chapel. There is a rumour that this parish is unusually hard on its clergy. The religious community's riotous town hall meetings have to be seen to be believed. Stephen, however, has held up so far in his position as head pastor. Will the new assistant fare as well? It remains to be seen....
Do come visit.