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ALEXANDRIA, VA: VTS Breaks Ground for New Immanuel Chapel

ALEXANDRIA, VA: VTS Breaks Ground for New Immanuel Chapel

By Curtis Prather
Sept. 14, 2013

This past Saturday more than 400 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Virginia Theological Seminary's new Immanuel Chapel. Nearly three years after a fire destroyed the Seminary's 129-year old chapel, Saturday's service was a major milestone in the history of VTS.

"For thousands of years, men and women have been creating sacred spaces," said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of VTS. "Deep in our past (just look at Jacob in our Old Testament lesson) to this moment at Virginia Theological Seminary in our present, this has been our human identity. We need, we must, we feel the urge just to create some space that reflects our conviction that human life is part of a bigger picture - a bigger picture that recognizes that we are not just complex bundles of atoms, but beings intended by God and ultimately living for God."

The new Immanuel Chapel, designed by the architects from Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA) of New York, was made possible because of a robust capital campaign which raised more than $14.3 million. Members and donors of the Chapel for the Ages Campaign joined representatives from RAMSA, and members of the VTS community, for today's ceremony.

Turning the earth during today's ceremony were the Rt. Rev. James J. Shand, Chair of the Board (pictured); The Rev. J. Randolph Alexander, rector of Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill; M. Dorian Del Priore, president of the VTS student body; Cynthia C. Fowler, co-chair for the Chapel for the Ages campaign, The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, co-chair for the Chapel for the Ages campaign; The Rev. J. Barney Hawkins IV, co-chair for the Chapel of the Ages campaign; The Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, honorary co-chair for the Chapel for the Ages campaign; the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia; the Rev. Emmanuel Madinda, international student representative; The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, co-chair for the Chapel of the Ages campaign and dean and president of VTS; Robert A.M. Stern, partner of Robert A.M. Stern Architects; and Heather Zdancewicz, vice president for administration and finance for VTS.

The new Immanuel Chapel is part of a "Worship and Welcome" quad, which will include an improved welcome center and a new motor court, creating a new gateway from Seminary Road to VTS for its Alexandria neighbors. The remains of the 1881 Chapel have been converted into a garden, which will be dedicated during Convocation ceremonies next month - Thursday, October 9, 2013.

Markham added during his remarks today, "We gather to break the ground - to start a project that will be a gift to the future. We do so in the context of liturgy; we do so in the context of community; we do so with our friends in the wider Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion."


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