This is a special FAQ section dedicated to helping Custer Road UMC understand more about our building plans, especially as they pertain to the chapel.
Why do we need to remove our current chapel?
First, the chapel’s current location has proven to be an insurmountable barrier to achieving a vision for making our building more open and accessible to our community. This vision has a couple of key components. First is a new children’s area that is centrally located, easy to find, tailored to fit our current and future ministry needs, and engages children and their families. Most importantly, the new building will address existing security concerns by creating a single point of entry that is accessible only with credentials. The building will also provide us with true lockdown capabilities in the event of an emergency.
The second component of this vision address the need for an openness and connectivity that our campus currently lacks. As a result of multiple building phases over the years, we have narrow hallways, disconnected check in areas, partially hidden stairwells, small bathrooms, and a number of other issues that make it extremely difficult for large crowds to navigate our building. Despite the fact that we have a wonderful hospitality team, our building is very confusing for first-time guests and visitors to our church. Removing the chapel along with the network of corridors that surround it will allow us to create a main front entrance to the church, widen the front hallways, and add a large central staircase that will connect all three floors of our building and provide better access to our children’s and youth areas, worship spaces, and adult Sunday School classes. The goal of this is to improve traffic flow, navigation and the sense of community that is so vital to who we are as a church. Unfortunately, the chapel is located right in the midst where all of these primary sections of our building come together. From a logistical and engineering standpoint, this goal cannot be accomplished if the chapel remains in its present location.
Why are we not building a new chapel?
The initial plans featured a new chapel in a different location near the front of the church. Unfortunately, once it became clear that the scope of the project would have to be reduced, some major problems became apparent. Once the building committee and trustees started modifying the plans, the architects advised us that, because we could not afford to build out the front elevation of the church, attempting to squeeze in a 60-70 seat chapel (which would be smaller than ideal for a congregation of our size) near the entrance would create a new set of access and navigation issues. In turn, our contractors advised us that even with a modest design, building the chapel would require an additional build out and take up a large portion of the already reduced front elevation of the church. It would have also added an additional $1 million to the total cost of the project. Despite the budget restrictions, several other design options were considered, but ultimately it was determined that these alternate options would have an adverse impact on the other ministry areas that we are also trying to support.
What types of events are typically held in the chapel?
In the last full calendar year, these are the events that were held in the chapel:
52 – Outside Choral group rehearsals
43 – CRCDS Chapel times
43 – Weekly Staff Chapel Gatherings
18 – Miscellaneous meetings / gatherings before event
14 – Gospel Gang Children’s Choir leadership meetings
13 – Private recitals
13 – Memorial Services
8 – Lenten Meditation and/or other ‘prayer’ events
4 – Eagle Scout Courts of Honor
4 – Weddings
1 – Baptism
In addition to these events, the chapel also hosted our Lectio worship service (which was discontinued in July 2016), and also served as a place for people to receive communion on Sunday mornings.
What will happen to events that are currently held in the chapel?
Most events will simply be scheduled to other places in the church. We have adequate space. Once a new worship and meeting space is created where Fellowship Hall now sits, many groups will actually find it preferrable. For instance, the Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony is usually media-heavy, and requires that a large TV be brought into the Chapel. The new worship and meeting space will have all of the media, lighting, and event options to make it a suitable location for many more types of gatherings than our current Fellowship Hall allows.
For weddings and funerals, we will still have a beautiful Sanctuary. And the new worship and meeting space in Fellowship Hall will be nicely appointed, making it a fitting (though more contemporary) space for such sacred moments.
Events aside, the chapel is an intimate place of prayer and reflection. Are we losing that?
Thankfully, no. In the hallway directly behind the Sanctuary, a Prayer Room is being created. Specifics haven’t been nailed down, but one could imagine it having pews from the chapel, a kneeling rail, other comfortable seating, and an altar. This will be a place for quiet prayer and meditation, for receiving communion, and for intimate worship.
What will happen to the stained glass window?
The beautiful stained glass window will become an even more visible focal point of our church. It will be located that the second floor landing of the new wide stairwell, and will be visible from both sides. Interestingly, it will remain in almost the exact same position it is in now. See the Plans page for a rendering showing what this will look like.