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On the road in Yucca Valley: Desert Christ Park

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Desert Christ Park is located in Yucca Valley in the eastern portion of California's Mojave Desert. It sits on a hillside near the Evangelical Free Church overlooking the town. It was dedicated on Easter Day in 1951.

The park was originally owned by a preacher named Eddie Garver who had founded the Yucca Valley Community Church five years earlier. He acquired land next to where the park now sits in 1950 with the dream of creating a Christian-themed park.

Garver met Frank Antone Martin, a sculptor from Southern California. Martin created a 10-foot tall “resurrected Christ” out of steal and reinforced concrete. The sculpture weighed five tons.

Martin’s plan was for the sculpture to be placed on a rim of the Grand Canyon but he was not allowed to do so based on First Amendment issues. He sculpture became known as “The Unwanted Christ.”

Martin eventually agreed for the sculpture to be placed at Christ’s Park. It was brought to the park in the back of a truck a week before the park opened.

Martin returned to Yucca Valley the following year, eventually deciding to move there. He created more sculptures for the park over the next 10 years.

Martin died in 1961. Garver sold the property to local parishioners in the late 1950s.

Today the park is operated and maintained by the Desert Christ Park Foundation and a five-member governing board. The park is funded solely through donations and grants. Most of the statues show signs of aging and vandalism. The Foundation is actively seeking funding for restoration.

For more information, check out the website at: DesertChristPark. The foundation also has a Facebook page: Desert Christ Park.

Suffer Not The Children
Suffer Not The Children Sharon Gilbert

Suffer Not The Children

This sculpture is from Mark 10:13-16.  People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

A Bust of Christ
A Bust of Christ Sharon Gilbert

A Bust of Christ

This is the only bust at the park.  It sits on a short wall and is much larger that appears in the photo.  For a closeup, check out this video by Christopher Lee:  Video

Christ with Lazerous, Mary and Martha
Christ with Lazerous, Mary and Martha Sharon Gilbert

Christ with Lazerous, Mary and Martha

In this sculpture, Christ is raising Lazarus from the Dead as described in the Book of John.  "So then he told them plainly, “'Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.'”

Sermon on the Mount from the Back
Sermon on the Mount from the Back Sharon Gilbert

Sermon on the Mount from the Back

Another view of Christ giving his Sermon on the Mount.  The sermon encompasses some of the most famous of Christ's teaching including the Beatitudes.

The Last Supper
The Last Supper Sharon Gilbert

The Last Supper

The Last Supper is a re=creation the most famous "Last Supper" painting, that of Leonardo Da Vinci's.  It is completed in low relief and part of a three-wall structure.

Listening to the Sermon on the Mount
Listening to the Sermon on the Mount Sharon Gilbert

Listening to the Sermon on the Mount

Four of the twelve disciples are shown in this photo facing Christ as he preaches the Sermon on the Mount.  Many of the sculptures in this work are in need of restoration.

Christ Preaching the Sermon on the Mount
Christ Preaching the Sermon on the Mount Sharon Gilbert

Christ Preaching the Sermon on the Mount

Christ seen with his arms reaching out to his disciples as he preaches the Sermon on the Mount.  One of the most well-known passages is the Lord's Prayer:  Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Blessing of Children
Blessing of Children Sharon Gilbert

Blessing of Children

This sculpture comes from Mark 10:13-16 which reads:  People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

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