WHEN WE FINALLY FOUND the Guardian Angel Roadside Chapel tucked into the woods along South 24th Street in Clear Lake, Iowa, after we’d asked for directions and still drove by the unmarked landmark, we met Scott Kennedy.
He was there with his nephew, an Iowa State University student from the western U.S., cleaning the chapel and grounds for a funeral the next day.
It’s difficult to envision a funeral inside this miniscule place of only a few short pews. But one was planned and the mess from an invading squirrel needed to be swept and gathered into garbage bags. Although I did not see it, my husband spotted the succumbed squirrel.
I was more focused on the chapel interior with its beautiful center stained glass cross crafted by a local artist and side stained glass windows salvaged from Zion Lutheran Church. The cross was designed to attract the attention of travelers along nearby Interstate 35.
This truly is a functional church with altar, organ and baptismal font.
I was especially delighted to find my favorite bible verse—the scripture that has guided me through some rough patches in life—inscribed on a dedication plaque inside the entry: We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him.—Romans 8:28. Serendipitous? Perhaps. But more likely divine.
It is the divine intervention of God which led Scott and others to construct the Guardian Angel Roadside Chapel in 1991 in honor of Scott’s aunt, Marguerite Williams. She was convinced that God protected her from kidnapping by a band of gypsies while growing up in Clear Lake. And later, while working at a Chicago medical clinic, Marguerite again experienced God’s protection when she encountered a gang of hoodlums.
It was hoodlums, or more accurately criminals, who set fire to the first Guardian Angel Chapel a year after it was built, Scott shared. The blaze was to distract responders from a break-in across town. Undeterred, Scott and others determined to rebuild this chapel which was rededicated on April 4, 1993.
An informational paper I found inside the chapel states its purpose:
This chapel was built as a witness to Christ. It is the hope and prayers of the builders that people worshipping here will be closer to Christ and will have their own guardian angel look after them.
FYI: The chapel is open daily from dawn until dusk, although I am uncertain whether it’s open during the winter months.
Check back tomorrow for my final installment in this seven-part series on Clear Lake, Iowa.
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling