By Melissa Bower, Fort Leavenworth LampOctober 22, 2010
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Oct. 21, 2010) - Frontier Chapel on Fort Leavenworth was dedicated in an ecumenical service Oct. 18.
The $15.5 million chapel was built from 2008-2010 just north of the older Pioneer Chapel at the corner of Pope and Thomas avenues using federal spending bills.
Frontier Chapel has been unofficially open for about two months.
"We will not cut a ribbon, but in a more informal worship service, we will dedicate it to God," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Mike Thompson, Garrison Religious Services.
Although the new chapel is not a replacement for St. Ignatius Chapel, a solely Catholic facility that was destroyed by fire in 2001, it does replace lost space. Since the destruction of that facility, the Main Post Chapel, now known as Pioneer Chapel, absorbed most of the religious services, programs and educational meetings.
The Frontier Chapel's sanctuary seats 600, with an additional 591 seats in an adjacent activity center. There are 15 classrooms with a combination choir room and handicapped-accessible entrances.
Laura Hammond, military spouse and participant in Protestant Women of the Chapel, said the new chapel space is vital.
"It has expanded the space that we have between the two chapels," she said.
PWOC uses both buildings every Tuesday morning. Hammond said before the new chapel and its added parking spaces, she often heard from women who left before entering the church because they couldn't find parking.
Christy Kilburn, military spouse and president of Women of St. Ignatius, a Catholic religious support group, said WOSI also uses both chapels.
"We love that everything's new," she said. "We use the kitchen a lot, and we don't have to look for things because everything's there."
Chaplains from throughout post participated in the dedication, as well as Chaplain (Col.) Charles L. Howell, Installation Management Command chaplain, and Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Douglas L. Carver, the Army's chief of Chaplains.
Carver noted Title 10, which outlines the role of the U.S. armed forces, provides every Soldier with the freedom to worship. He quoted from Gen. George Marshall's first report on the state of the armed forces in 1939: "Unless the soldier's soul sustains him, he cannot be relied on and will fail himself and his commander and his country in the end."
Carver said Marshall went on to build 555 cantonment chapels Armywide; 305 are still standing.
Carver also talked about how members of the military can use Religious Services to feel connected to a community, receive counseling and participate in relationship building classes.
Carver said the need for religious support is especially important at a time when the suicide rate in the Army continues to climb.
"May this place be a house where are Soldiers are reassured they are not alone," he said.