MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–In what was meant to be a multipurpose room when it was built more than 40 years ago, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary rededicated its chapel after completing an extensive renovation project Feb. 9.
“The generosity and faithfulness of Southern Baptist churches throughout the country have made this possible through their Cooperative Program giving,” said seminary President William O. Crews.
When the academic building was constructed in 1959, the upstairs end was going to be the temporary chapel, noted Gus Ortiz, campus planning and projects manager, who oversaw the $200,000 renovation. The seminary had planned build a permanent worship center atop Chapel Hill, but decided not to, and that “temporary chapel” has served as the seminary’s primary worship space ever since.
Golden Gate students, faculty and staff at the Mill Valley, Calif., campus gathered at the rededication for the first chapel service of the spring semester, admiring new carpet, movable seating and better acoustics. Featured in the service was the music school’s chapel choir and speaker Rob Zinn, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, Highland, Calif.
“One objective we had was to provide a worship space that would be typical for students to encounter in churches,” Ortiz said. “We want to help model that experience.”
Students were very appreciative of the seminary for updating the chapel.
“It looks and sounds a whole lot better,” said Brian Weers, a second-year church music student. “There aren’t so many echoes, and it’s a lot easier to sing and play. Plus it’s nice to worship in a place where everyone has the freedom to move and everyone is a bit closer together.”
Third-year divinity student Amy Brashear said, “It’s more aesthetically pleasing. The attention given to the renovation of the chapel assures me that the school thinks that the sanctuary is an important place.”
Renovation plans started when Crews appointed a task force to study chapel improvement acoustically and aesthetically. Acoustic engineers and architects made a battery of suggestions, and capital funds from the Cooperative Program last year enabled the renovation to begin.
“I noticed a big difference in the acoustics,” Crews said. “The chapel choir at the first service wasn’t that large, and I was standing at the back, but their voices carried. Everyone is pleased with the way it looks.”
James Simmons, campus life and housing director and member of the chapel committee, said the improved facilities will increase the opportunity for worship experiences. “With movable chairs, we can be more intimate or expansive,” he said. “I really am excited about seminary investing in a worship space because I feel it’s the essence of the Christian community.”
Preaching professor James Higgs said the chapel can be more set apart for the seminary family to be together. “I think the atmosphere is helpful and the innovations are tasteful,” he said. “The stage is not such a barrier anymore between the speaker and the audience.”