Sacred Spaces

I took a very, very chilly walk this morning up to the center of campus.  Winter is coming, friends.  It is *cold* now.  In the 30s this morning, weak sunlight.  Definitely heavy jacket weather, scarf, gloves.  The weekend forecast appears to be frigid as well.  Tell your Deacs to dress warm and use a lot of good personal hygiene (hand washing, no cup sharing, etc.) because no one needs to come down with anything right now.

My destination was Davis Chapel, which is at the back of Wait Chapel and Wingate Hall.  It had been during my own school days a tiny chapel with wooden pews, seating maybe 110 people.  It was used for a variety of denominational services on campus.

Davis Chapel has gotten a facelift.  The space has been beautifully redesigned thanks to a grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.  Gone are the old style pews, replaced with moveable chairs so the room can be set up and configured to suit a variety of events, services, and faith traditions.  The front of the chapel has been remade and features a small table for religious services.  There are paintings at the front of the room, and on one side of the front of the chapel is a cabinet (Ark) for storing a sacred Torah.  There is a red light, and if memory serves me, the light is lit if blessed sacrament (bread and wine) is stored in the chapel; the candle stays lit around the clock.  There is even a small waterfall that can be used during meditation services, which are Monday-Weds-Friday mornings from 8-8:25 am.  The lovely stained glass windows remain from the original chapel.

The spiritual landscape of the university has changed since my time as a student.  When I was here, the largest denomination was Baptist.  As of 2013, student reported religious preference was as follows:

25.2% Roman Catholic

7.8% Baptist

7.4% Protestant

6.7% Presbyterian

6.5% Episcopal

3.6% Jewish

42.8% All Other/Unknown

Because we have students of many faith traditions (as well as those who might be exploring their beliefs), it is important that we have sacred spaces on campus that are welcoming and useful to all.  This new Davis Chapel feels good in that sense.

davis 20110727davis3756 20140212davis1900 20140212davis1876Here are some pictures of the old and new Davis Chapel (most professionally done, a few my own handiwork).  And for those who have not seen the Interfaith Arch, it is on the other side of the back of Wait Chapel, opposite the entrance to Wingate.  When the sun hits it just right, it davis 20141028chapel1299 20141029chapel2304makes a really cool series of religious symbols with the light.

Be sure to touch base with your students today.  Give them a call, ask them about the cold weather here.  Tell them you love them.  It matters tremendously.

— by Betsy Chapman

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