Chowan University Breaks Ground for New Chapel
Chowan University was pleased to host a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, September 9 at the site of the new chapel. This new facility is to be built adjacent to the historic McDowell Columns Hall. The construction of the new chapel marks a significant step in the overall vision for Chowan’s students and alumni.
The chapel will seat 170 guests, and its design includes large side doors which will allow the chapel guests to interact with the landscape around it. Guests will be able to overflow into the beautiful area of the iconic Kerr Gazebo and Alumni Walk. The sanctuary is designed to be an inviting place for reverence and worship.
The chapel is in the drawing and fundraising phase of the project. The goal is to raise $3.5 million for construction and an endowment of which $2.3 million has been raised to date. Plans are to complete the project in time for the university's 175th celebration of its founding in 1848.
The ceremony began with an opening invocation by student ministry chaplain, Patrick Krack ‘22. Following the prayer, University President Dr. Kirk E. Peterson gave a word of welcome to all those in attendance and shared the need for a chapel on campus. He declared that “This chapel is one of the most critical buildings in the University’s history.”
Following President Peterson’s remarks, U.S. Congressman for the NC-01 district, The Honorable G. K. Butterfield shared the theme of the event, “Upon this Rock” and stated that Chowan is now “nationally recognized for excellence and commitment in developing the whole student, educationally, spiritually, and civically.” Chair of the University Board of Trustees, Kemper Baker ’65, echoed Congressman Butterfield’s remarks and delivered his endorsement of the chapel.
Student Government Association President Zyon Pye ’22 shared that the future chapel will be,“a home where we can learn about the love of Christ and an outlet to spread His good news. It will also allow various students and organizations like Mimes of God, Instruments Of Praise, Daughters of the Most High, and many others, to express their gifts through creative outlets.”
Chowan trustee and passionate champion for the chapel, Bucky Glover ‘74 delivered the keynote address. He noted that the University has built residence halls for housing students, classrooms for teaching, athletic facilities for competition, and with this groundbreaking, the chapel would offer students a place for worship. Additionally, in Mr. Glover’s remarks, he recognized the chapel’s principal architect, Toni Finch from little Bird Architecture, PLLC.
The ceremony concluded with a blessing from the Minister to the University, Rev. Mari E. Wiles. Along with prayers for safety for those who will build this facility, she also prayed that in this new chapel “we would be found faithful using this new place as a place to please you in preparing your precious students for this world.” Following Rev. Wiles' blessing, the Chowan Singers sang “On Christ the Solid Rock.” The choir was led by Director, Dr. Benjamin Thorburn and accompanied by the Department of Music chair, Dr. Mary Hellmann.
The event transitioned to the ceremonial groundbreaking. Vice President for Advancement, Andy Wilson organized the platform party with their commemorative shovels to break ground. Among those turning the dirt was one of Chowan’s leading benefactors and longtime trustee, Charles Pond. His generous commitment helped make this project possible.
Olive wood crosses and hearts from Bethlehem were given to all as tokens of remembrance. Blue party “hard hats” were given out and everyone was invited to break ground. The celebration concluded with lunch in Thomas Dining Hall, where students and guests enjoyed Chowan’s famous fried chicken.
It was a special day for Chowan University, a day to celebrate God’s faithfulness in the past, the present, and in the days to come.
To see video highlights of the event go to this link.