Archive for Thursday, August 17, 2006

Chapel to celebrate 10th anniversary

August 17, 2006

A sacred space and popular tourist attraction on Baker University's campus will celebrate its 10th anniversary this fall.

The Clarice L. Osborne Memorial Chapel, home to weekly worship services for students, will be rededicated on Oct. 24, two days before the inauguration of Pat Long, the University's 28th president.

Moved stone by stone from Sproxton, England, to Baldwin City in 1995, the chapel was dedicated in October 1996 by former British Prime Minster Lady Margaret Thatcher. The chapel had been in England since 1864, and Thatcher's father had preached there in the mid-1930s. R.R. Osborne, an Olathe philanthropist, provided a $1 million gift to move and rebuild the chapel named after his late wife.

"Each event of inauguration week will build on the preceding day, continuing to build on the excitement and celebration," said the Rev. Ira DeSpain, who will conduct a worship service during the rededication. "This event fits in well."

Annie Stockwell, the lone surviving member of the chapel before it closed in the early 1990s, plans to travel from Grantham, England, to attend the ceremony. She also was in Baldwin City 10 years ago for the first dedication and is thrilled the chapel has found a permanent home on the Baker campus.

"Because the chapel is being used for what it was built for, God will wonderfully bless it," Stockwell wrote to DeSpain in a recent letter.

Stone masons, carpenters and woodworkers who helped construct the chapel have been invited to the rededication, DeSpain said.

Also, all 190 couples who have been married in the past decade at the chapel have been invited to attend the ceremony. Brandy Wagner, a 1995 Baker graduate, and Greg Webber plan to be there. The two were the first couple to be married at Osborne Chapel and celebrated their 10th anniversary on Aug. 10.

The couple had planned to marry at First United Methodist before DeSpain notified them of the opportunity to be the first ones married at the chapel. The Webbers jumped at the offer.

"There were no pews at the chapel when we got married and we had to bring in folding chairs," Brandy recalled. "Getting married in there was an awesome opportunity and I knew I wanted a quaint wedding. The chapel symbolized what was important to us. We wanted to share the moment with family and friends and since I had a great experience at Baker I knew I wanted to get married on campus. We were able to tie everything together."

Many student relationships have blossomed at the chapel.

"We've had couples get engaged in the chapel and the courtyard," DeSpain said. "Some were freshmen when the chapel was being built, got to know each other and were eventually married there."

Besides weddings, students often seek solace at the chapel, especially after tragedies such as the terrorist's attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001.

"The defining moment that put things in perspective was 9/11," DeSpain said. "When people need a place to express their deepest fears or their greatest joys, the chapel is where they are drawn to. We had a Muslim student read from Quran during a memorial service on the one-year anniversary of 9/11. That was a good example of how the place transcends religious traditions."

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