Standing on the Word of God
On Tuesday, February 21st, a small group of Board of Trustee Members gathered to lay God’s word in the foundation of the Chapel. Held at the Kerr Gazebo, adjacent to the site of the Chowan University Chapel, eight Trustees gathered for a brief ceremony while construction remained steady on what has been dubbed the most important building the university will ever build. Andy Wilson, Vice President for Advancement, in a prelude to the ceremony, shared that with duct work being laid, there was a small window of opportunity to gather for this momentous occasion prior to the foundation being poured.
Rev. Dr. Julian Mills, alum and Board of Trustee member, recalled that in 1957 he and a group of young men called the Ministerial Alliance gathered every Monday on the top floor of McDowell Columns. He shared that they often prayed that God would give Chowan a chapel so that instead of being in a room on campus, there would be a dedicated place for worship and prayer. Dr.. Mills delivered an innovation of thanksgiving for Chowan, the campus, and the chapel.
President Kirk Peterson brought greetings and shared the significance of the Bible chosen to inter in the foundation under the location of the pulpit. The Bible was given to him by the family of Rev. Ronald “Ron” McSwain. Rev. McSwain faithfully served Chowan first as a trustee and as a founding member of the Chowan Christian Service Association (CCSA). In 2007, he joined the Chowan staff as the Director of Church Relations and nurtured CCSA into a robust scholarship program, which to date has provided nearly 100 tuition and 70 mission trip scholarships. Along with CCSA, Rev. McSwain developed the Ministerial Board of Associates and created SeniorFEST, a beloved senior adult event. After Rev. McSwain retired from Chowan, he continued to serve on the Board of Visitors, Ministerial Board of Associates, and the CCSA Board of Directors.
Charles Pond, alumnus and Board of Trustee member, brought remarks about the chapel and how it is important in his life and the life of the university. He shared that his coming to Chowan was when he began to understand the importance of spiritual life. Mr. Pond, a significant contributor to Chowan, has named the chapel sanctuary in memory of his late wife, Juanita Pond.
Rev. Anthony Rawlings, alumnus, and Board of Trustee member, brought blessings over the Bible, the chapel, and the university. Prior to his blessing, Rev. Rawlings shared that “there is nothing more powerful, nothing more prolific than to have the word of God planted where it will be preached.” He continued that “the greatest leadership manuscript that has ever been penned” will “stand firm in our foundation.” Rev. Rawlings humbly shared that the Bible that will be interred in the foundation belonged to “one of our greats,” as he met Rev. McSwain when he began his journey at Chowan and to ordination.
Following Rev. Rawlings, those present each took a turn locking the box that will encapsulate the Bible in the foundation of the Chowan University Chapel.
About the Chapel
The Chowan University Chapel will seat 170 guests, and its design is light and open, which will allow the building 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 will be an inviting place for reverence and worship.
The university held a groundbreaking ceremony in 2021. Despite delays related to the pandemic, access to materials, and inflation, it is on track to be completed in summer 2023 ahead of the 175 Founder’s Day on October 11, 2023.
From the start, this project has been led by passion and precision. Careful attention has been given to the details and thoughtful consideration through each stage of the project. Ahead of the foundation, lead gift donor, Bucky Glover was called to suggest laying a bible be placed in the chapel’s foundation. Through conversations with leadership, it was decided that a Bible be laid under the pulpit of the chapel so that as sermons are shared, the deliverer is standing on the word of God.
Live feed construction cameras can be viewed at chowan.edu/chapel for those wishing to see progress at any time or learn more about the project.
See the full ceremony album on Facebook.