Friday, May 5, 2017

Precious Moments Chapel - Carthage Missouri


The Precious Moments Chapel was completed in 1989. This small building was the culminating achievement for artist Samuel J. Butcher, the artist who created the iconic Precious Moments figurines. The inside of the building is full of large murals depicting biblical scenes that feature Precious Moments characters.  Tours of the chapel are offered daily and are free.  

Location: 4321 S. Chapel Road Carthage Missouri

Cost: Free

Operating Seasons and Hours: Hours vary depending on the time of year, but basically the chapel is open every day from 10:00 to 4:00 with longer hours in the summer months.  Check the official website for exact times.

Official Website: www.preciousmomentschapel.org

Date of Visit: Thursday, November 17, 2016

This was the second stop of the second day of our road trip when we moved from Alabama to Utah in November of 2016. That morning we had visited Laura Ingalls Wilder's adult home in Mansfield, Missouri.  We were planning to drive straight into Kansas to visit the sight of one her childhood homes.

However, as I drove through southern Missouri on I-44 I kept seeing signs for the Precious Moments Chapel in Carthage, Missouri. I'd read about this in the state's guidebook, but for some reason I hadn't put it on my itinerary.

At first I ignored the signs, I wasn't sure where Carthage was, and I didn't want to pay money for something that would eat up a lot of our travelling time. But I kept seeing billboards advertising the chapel, telling me where it was, and saying that it was free.  The billboards also reminded me how much I like Precious Moments Figurines. The deciding factor was when I realized how much my six year old twins would love seeing all the life size statues. So I called up my husband, who was driving the moving van, and told him that we'd be making an extra stop.



The chapel is less than 10 minutes from the interstate and there were plenty of signs to help me find it.  I arrived about 20 minutes ahead of my husband. I passed the time eating snacks in the car with our two younger children while waiting for my husband and the two older children to catch up.  When they did arrive and we went up to the building. At first I thought this was the chapel.
But it was actually a super cute gift shop. This the worlds largest Precious Moments gift shop. It was set up like a little village inhabited by Precious Moments people. Inside all the little buildings were stores where you could buy Precious Moments figurines.  The kids had so much fun spotting all the precious moments figures who lived in this village.
I loved this oversize statue of one of the classic Precious Moments figurines. This reminded me so much of my mom. I think she had a picture of this. Or maybe even the figurine.  My mom really loved Precious Moments figurines and pictures and seeing the statues made me think of her.
After walking through the little village we went outside and followed the path to where the chapel was located.
The path turned and we could see the chapel.
We walked through the doors and entered a beautiful room. This room had over 30 paintings featuring Precious Moments characters depicting Bible Scenes.  This has been described as "America's Sistine Chapel.  All the artwork was done by Samuel J. Butcher who created the Precious Moments Figurines. This chapel was a dream of his for many years, and was completed in 1989. He wanted a way to honor God for the blessings he had been given.
A lady offered to give us a free tour of the chapel.  However, my kids don't always do very well on tours.  So we opted to just explore the chapel at our own pace. I loved the chapel. Everything was so pretty and the colors were so vibrant.  More than that though, there was definitely a sacred spirit inside the building. I found myself tearing up when ever I tried to explain the pictures to my children.
I loved this picture of a girl discovering a Pearl of Great Price.  When we went back to the gift shop I bought several post card size prints of this picture.  I gave one of them to my mom for Christmas. I put another one up in my bedroom.
The sides of the chapel building had stained glass windows. One side depicted images from Psalm 23.
The other side illustrated the Be Attitudes from Matthew 5.  Again I found myself tearing up as I read the beautiful scriptures to my children.
My children loved looking at all the beautiful images, but I think one of my daughters was touched the most.  She thought all the statues looked sad so she would give them hugs and hold their hands as she walked by each one. 
Stopping at the Precious Moments Chapel was definitely worth our time.  I left the area feeling so happy. I'm so glad that I paid attention to all those billboards.

Recommendation: I don't know how the Precious Moments Chapel wasn't on my list of things to see while we drove through Southern Missouri.  If you are going to be in Southern Missouri, then you should definitely make time to stop and see the chapel.

Directions: I've never seen a landmark have better signs leading to it than the Precious Moments Chapel.  There were billboards on the tnterstate that gave general directions. After I got of the interstate there were more billboards and signs indicating which way to go.  The chapel is just minutes from the interchange between I-44 and I-49.  The best way to access the chapel is from
Exit 51 on I-49.  Signs will lead you to the Chapel.

Additional Information: For more information about the history of Precious Moments and the Chapel read this article on the chapel's website.

Places Nearby:  Grand Falls/Shoal Creek Falls are located near Joplin which is about 10 miles east of the Chapel. This is the tallest continuous flowing waterfall in Missouri. That's a fancy way of saying that there are other waterfalls in Missouri that are taller than this one, but they don't always have water flowing over them. These falls are 12 feet high and 163 feet wide. This area is free to visit, but make sure you have good directions to the falls before you set out.

Next Stop: The Little House on the Prairie Museum near Independence, Kansas.

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I would love to hear what you think. Did I get it right, or was I dead wrong? What was your experience like?

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