The historic “Little Church on the Hill” in Oakhurst’s Oakhill Cemetery, will be host to its first Easter Sunrise Service in more than 30 years at 7 a.m., April 1. People of all faiths are invited to attend to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Over the years after its restoration, the Little Church on the Hill has been host to weddings, baptisms, memorials and numerous Veteran celebrations. However, according to long-time member of the Little Church on the Hill Foundation Board, Jackie Mallouf, it has been more than 30 years since the church has hosted an Easter Sunrise service.
Hosting the Sunrise service at the 122 year-old landmark church came to Pastor Gayle Basten of the New Community United Methodist Church while thinking about how her own congregation could begin “looking beyond Sunday, past our own walls, to encourage involvement with the entire community.”
Indeed, in the 1890s, building traditions of the era were said to be quite efficient and everyone turned out to lend a hand. Barns, houses and churches were likely built in just a few days. It was in the spirit of the entire community coming together that the simple Little Church was built. Consecrated on June 20, 1894, it was the only place of worship for residents of Fresno Flats and met the needs of all denominations for 61 years.
As new churches were being built in Oakhurst, the church became smaller and smaller in members and held its last worship service in 1953.
In 1957 the church was moved from Chapel Hill to Oakhill Cemetery to protect it from vandalism. On March 19, 1994, the California State Historical Resources Commission designated the church and cemetery as a Point of Historical Interest.
Because the Little Church on the Hill has been largely non-denominational throughout its history, “It became clear to me, this was the perfect place to host an Easter Sunrise service that wasn’t based on any particular belief system or doctrine,” Basten said.
Everyone is invited to attend the Eastern Sunrise service of thanksgiving, prayer and celebration.
“It will be cool in the early morning so attendees should dress warm,” Basten said.
While there will be no offering taken, those attending are encouraged to make a donation to the Little Church on the Hill Foundation for continued upkeep and maintenance of this historic landmark.