Rapid City. Replica of the famous Borgund Stave Church in Norway. Unique architecture, log cabin museum and gift shop. Evening service nightly at 7:30 p.m. Memorial Day thru Labor Day. Donations Appreciated.
Evening Worship Services at the Chapel in the Hills
Worship services are held at the Chapel in the Hills each evening during the summer months. A tradition since the original ministry of the radio program Lutheran Vespers. (The term "vesper" refers to a worship service held in the evening, or an evening prayer.) All our visitors are invited to attend this ecumenical worship service.
- Services begin at 7:30 pm each evening and run from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
- Worship lasts approximately 30 minutes. Dress is informal.
- (There are no scheduled Sunday morning services, as the chapel has no permanent congregation.)
- The chapel and grounds are also available for local congregations and travelling groups to use for worship and other events.
- This summer, the Chapel will be hosting guest pastors from all over the country. Each pastor will bring with him or her unique gifts and talents to share with worship attendees.
- Feel free to call the chapel for further information (605-342-8281 or 605-343-9426)
Chapel In The Hills Wedding Information
You're welcome to hold your wedding at the Chapel in the Hills. The Chapel and grounds are a beautiful place for this sacred event. It is our prayer that each wedding celebrated here will carry with it a special blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Pastors supplied by the Chapel are ordained ELCA Lutheran clergy and are responsible for the services over which they preside. They will meet with you and the witnesses 30 minutes prior to your scheduled wedding time. All relevant instructions and the order of service will be discussed at that time. No other rehearsal will be held. If you choose to use your own Pastor please remember we are a Church and do not allow officiant weddings. The individual presiding must be ordained by a recognized denomination.
Please have your valid South Dakota marriage license with you and present it to the pastor when you arrive. Marriage licenses may be purchased at any county courthouse in South Dakota. You will need two witnesses to sign the marriage license the day of the ceremony. We can provide the witnesses if necessary.
The Chapel has a two manual organ. The Chapel organist is available for all weddings. You may use your own organist. However, it should be noted that the Chapel cannot be reserved or closed for the organist to practice.
Things to See at the Chapel in the Hills
This authentic grass roofed stabbur or store house was built in Norway, shipped to Rapid City and reassembled. The stabbur is a gift shop of Scandinavian merchandise, books, chapel souvenirs, and locally hand made Scandinavian craft items such as hardanger, rosemaling, and wood carvings.
The log cabin was built in 1876 by Edward Nielsen, a Norwegian immigrant gold prospector from Hole, Ringerike, Norway. It was moved to the Chapel grounds and is now the home of many Scandinavian antiques.
Enjoy a pleasant walk around the exterior of the chapel and notice the intrigue details in the craftsmanship of the wood carvers. Walk inside and rest on the benches as you listen to a narration telling you the story of the chapel.
The prayer walk takes visitor into a quiet forest area for prayer and meditation.
There is no set admission fee to visit the chapel. The chapel is completely self-supporting, as no synodical or national funds are provided.
All support is provided through your free-will donations, gift shop purchases, and weddings held at the chapel.
How did it come about that there is a stave church in the Black Hills of South Dakota, thousands of miles from the lands where this type of architecture and construction originated? It is the result of a dream of one man and the generous support of another...
In the 1960's, the originator and preacher of the Lutheran Vespers radio hour, Dr. Harry R. Gregerson, was looking to expand the scope of his popular radio ministry. As his dream took shape, Dr. Gregerson realized there was the perfect location for his facility right in his own state of South Dakota: the Black Hills. The Black Hills are a vaction destination for people from all over the world. The Chapel was to draw people to it and the Hills was the perfect setting to accomplish this goal.
The next question was, "What kind of a building shall the chapel be?" Since many of the original settlers of the Dakotas and surrounding states were Norwegian Lutherans, the idea was suggested that the chapel be built in the style of an original stave church (in Norwegian, "stavkirke"). This would honor the radio program's many listeners' heritage and establish the chapel with strong cultural roots. The chapel is an exact replica of the famous Borgund stavkirke, of Laerdal, Norway. The Borgund stavkirke was built around the year 1150 and is considered the most completely preserved stave church still standing in Norway.
The Norwegian Department of Antiquities graciously provided a set of blueprints of the Borgund church to be used in the construction of the Chapel in the Hills. All the general construction was done by a local construction company and other contractors. The woodcarvings are the result of a combined effort by Mr. Erik Fridstrom, one of Norway's best woodcarvers, and a local Rapid City resident, Mr. Helge Christiansen. Also, to serve as a visitor center and offices for Lutheran Vespers, an authentic grass-roofed "stabbur," or store house, was built in Norway, shipped to Rapid City, and reassembled on the grounds. In addition to the chapel and stabbur, two residences were constructed on the grounds, a parsonage and caretaker's cabin.
The question of funding was answered by a generous gift by Mr. Arndt E. Dahl, of Rapid City. The land, all the original structures, and landscaping were made possible through Mr. Dahl's generosity. All he asked in return was to dedicate the chapel to the glory of God, in memory of his parents. His father, the Rev. Anton A. Dahl, was himself a pioneering Lutheran pastor in the Upper Midwest.
The Chapel in the Hills was dedicated on July 6, 1969, and it served as the home of Lutheran Vespers until 1975 when the radio program was moved to Minneapolis home of the American Lutheran Church at the time. At that time a non-profit corporation took over operation of the Chapel in the Hills and operates it to this day.
A number of pastors were called to the Chapel, and a resident pastor served the Chapel until 2004. At that time it was decided to hire a manager and use local pastors serving Lutheran churches in the Rapid City area to preside over the evening worship services and weddings. Through all these changes the visitors have still remained, so the chapel remains, ministering to all those who seek a quiet place of contemplation, meditation, and prayer. Today the Chapel sees 20,000 to 25,000 visitors a year and hosts numerous weddings and vow renewals, along with other special services. You are welcome to visit the Chapel too!