Post parishioners anticipate new chapel
August 24, 2009
FORT RUCKER, Ala.--Construction plans for a 22,600 square-foot chapel on Guthrie Airfield stand in the works, according to Installation Management Command Chaplain (Maj.) Mark Mitera.
Mitera explained Congressional funding prompted construction plans for the new chapel and a groundbreaking ceremony is planned later this year. He said the structure will seat up to about 620 worshipers once completed. Mitera expects the chapel to be finished within 18 months after the start date.
"It will enhance morale among Soldiers and increase retention," he said. "If the Soldiers see there's a good quality of life in the military, they're more likely to stay."
Officials chose the Andrews Avenue location, across from the Main Post Shoppette and electrical sub-station, because of its close proximity to the Advanced Individual Training and Warrant Officer Career College (WOCC) barracks. These Soldiers do not always have transportation, so a nearby chapel will be more convenient for them, Mitera said.
Directorate of Public Works community planner Mike Maxwell said portions of the Guthrie airstrip will be demolished to make way for the new chapel. He said the inactive airstrip is currently used for long-term parking of privately owned vehicles belonging to WOCC and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape students. Maxwell said the field is large enough to accommodate the parking needs of both students and the chapel.
Mitera said the new chapel will have a modern look, similar to the headquarters building and the Soldier Service Center. "We want the buildings to have some visual cohesiveness," he said of structures on post. He noted the model is based off a chapel built at Fort Benning, Ga., two years ago.
Once completed, Mitera said contemporary worship services will be moved from the Chapel of Wings to the new facility.
The Chapel of Wings has been at near capacity for some time, he stated, noting a larger chapel will make meetings more comfortable. Mitera said the new chapel building will provide enough space to host Bible studies, adult Sunday school classes and child care. Maxwell also anticipates counseling services will become available at the new chapel.
No present structures will be torn down, but Mitera said the Chapel of Wings will no longer be used for religious services or activities.
The proposed Guthrie Airfield chapel presently remains nameless, but Mitera said a contest to give the new place of worship a title will precede the dedication.
Overall, Mitera and Maxwell emphasize the building will benefit the entire post community by providing an updated and spacious facility to conduct important religious activities.
"It's a statement that says we care about our people," Mitera said.