By Fort Campbell CourierOctober 22, 2010
FORT CAMPELL, Ky. -- Work began on a new Fort Campbell chapel complex Wednesday, as post leaders gathered at Bastogne Avenue and 42nd Street for a groundbreaking ceremony at the site.
The chapel complex, will seat 1,200 people in the 32,900-square-foot facility. It has been many years since the construction of a new chapel on post. Officials credit much of the work toward the funding of the facility to the efforts of the Citizens for Fort Campbell organization, which travels to Washington, D.C., to lobby on behalf of the post.
"This took a lot of work from our friends, our Citizens for Fort Campbell," Garrison Commander Col. Perry Clark said. " ... They knocked on a lot of doors and expressed our concern."
In addition to the spacious worship area, the complex will house administrative offices, multipurpose classrooms, storage, a kitchen and a 600-person fellowship room.
The chapel complex will help to serve the Fort Campbell religious community, as some of the older chapels are phased out. Seven chapels, in addition to the Religious Education Center and Blanchfield Army Community Hospital's chapel, are currently in use.
"The overall spiritual health and welfare of the Fort Campbell Soldiers, Families and civilian workers will be greatly enhanced when this new chapel building replaces three World War II-era chapels still in use today," said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Doug Prentice, deputy installation chaplain.
In the long run, it was determined that construction of the complex would be more efficient than renovating all of the older buildings.
"It's really helping to be good stewards for the taxpayer dollars," Prentice said.
It will also give growing denominations more room to expand and offer services.
"It will house one of our larger congregations," explained Installation Chap. (Col.) Roger Heath.
Heath said he looks forward to the addition, as it creates "a better facility for those that worship here."
Chapels on post are used for many events, including weddings, funerals, remembrances and christenings. In today's "multi-cultural Army," Heath said chapels continue to be an important part of military Family life.
"Its primary purpose is a place dedicated to worship," he said. "The circle of life often happens around chapels."
Clark recalled his wedding in one of the World War II-era chapels and looks forward to the new complex creating new memories for others.
"They've had a very special place here," he said of the older chapels. "But I can tell you, we look forward to change."
"For many, many of our Soldiers, it is going to be a special place."
Average weekly attendance is 1,257 people at installation worship services, with about 150 in Sunday School services and another 150 attending Bible studies.
Several religions and denominations, including Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews, attend services at the different chapels on post.
Supplementary Bible studies, classes, youth programs and support groups also meet at the buildings.
Construction of the more than $8.4 million complex is expected to be complete by March 2012.
The contract was awarded in August to Infinite-Wyatt, a Coosada, Ala., construction firm.