[Virginia Theological Seminary] The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary, stunned alumni, supporters, and community members last night at the launch of the Seminary’s Chapel for the Ages capital campaign with the announcement that over 85% of the campaign goal of $13 Million for the construction of a new chapel had already been raised.
Following a 2010 fire that destroyed the Seminary’s 129-year old Immanuel Chapel, VTS raised $10.9M during the “quiet phase” of the campaign. To date, 100% of the Seminary’s board of trustees and faculty pledged to the campaign along with 97% of the students and 70% of the staff.
Early success of the campaign is attributed to the work of the Seminary’s board of trustees, members of the Campaign Executive Committee, Dean Markham, and the Rev. J. Barney Hawkins IV, vice president of Institutional Advancement, who, over the past year, have been cultivating alumni, friends, and outside supporters.
Those giving remarks at the Chapel for the Ages launch included the Honorable William D. Euille, mayor of Alexandria, the Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold III, 25th presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church, Mr. Grant F. Marani, AIA, partner at Robert A.M. Stern Architects, LLP, designers of the new chapel, VTS senior, Mr. Nicholas Roosevelt, and Ms. Hartley Hobson Wensing.
As part of the Seminary’s commitment to service and mission, a 10% tithe of the gifts given to the Chapel for the Ages campaign will be used to help build a cathedral in the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti and a chapel at Msalato Theological College in Dodoma, Tanzania.
“Given the Seminary’s international consciousness and broad reach across the Anglican world,” stated Griswold, “it would be my hope that those giving gifts to the campaign would join me with a tithe to help build in places in need of new structures.”
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the new chapel model and renderings by Marani and his colleague, Rosa Maria Colina. “We conceive the chapel we are now designing not as a look back to the 19th century or as a monument to our own time,” stressed Marani, “but as a timeless place to honor and carry forward all that has gone before on your campus, and to focus on a vision that will serve not only the future of the Seminary, but also the future of the city of Alexandria, and most importantly, of the entire Anglican Communion. “
The new chapel, designed to complement the Seminary’s current collection of historic buildings, will be “plain-spoken” with straightforward red-brick forms and detailing reflecting the restrained Virginia traditions of the campus’s earliest buildings.
Along with an improved Welcome Center and a new motor court, the new chapel will create a new gateway from Seminary Road to the Seminary for its Alexandria neighbors. The chapel will address the proposed entry court with a broad, inviting portico, while it will greet those who approach from the campus with a terrace oriented to the campus grove. A lantern and large arched windows in the gable-ends of each transept will bathe the main sanctuary in diffuse natural light from above. In concert with the pedagogical goals of the Seminary, the architects were careful to design a flexible worship space, one that will serve as an understated backdrop to a range of liturgical purposes from large-scale celebrations to intimate services, all supporting the Seminary’s educational mission.
“Sacred space plays an important role in formation,” preached Dean Markham in his sermon delivered prior to the launch festivities, “we are the generation entrusted by God to build a space of formation – to build a space that produces doers of the Word not simply hearers.”
Robert A.M. Stern Architects has established an international reputation as a leading design firm with wide experience in residential, commercial, and institutional work. The firm’s scholarly approach to the design of buildings on academic campuses is founded on the belief that the public is entitled to buildings that reflect the aesthetic and cultural values of the buildings around them. RAMSA has designed buildings for dozens of schools including Dartmouth, Harvard, Brown, Yale, Georgetown, and the University of Virginia. Houses of worship designed by the firm include the Center for Jewish Life at Princeton and Our Lady of Mercy Chapel at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. For more information, visit www.ramsa.com.