[Virginia Theological Seminary press release] Virginia Theological Seminary Feb. 12 held an Opening Celebration of Holy Eucharist Rite II and Signing of the Covenant with Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill in its newly completed Immanuel Chapel. The long awaited and anticipated service took place one year, five months, one week, and four days from the Sept. 14, 2013 groundbreaking of the new chapel that replaces the 1881 Chapel that was destroyed by a fire in October 2010.
“This is such an extraordinary and holy moment in the history of this wonderful institution,” said the Very Rev Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of VTS. “This celebratory service represents the culmination of the vision, hard work and dedication of the many donors, workers, staff and other friends of the Seminary that this has come to fruition.”
The celebrant was the Rt. Rev. James J. Shand, chair of the Board of Trustees and retired bishop of the Diocese of Easton in Maryland. Dean Markham will officiant. Representing a long-standing relationship with the Seminary, the Rev. J. Randolph Alexander, rector of Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill delivered the sermon.
An important part of the opening service will be the covenant between the seminary and Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill. From the mid-19th century, a neighborhood congregation gathered in the Immanuel Chapel of VTS. In 1942, the Council of the Diocese of Virginia received the congregation and adopted its name as Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill. The first rector was the Very Rev. Alexander C. Zabriskie, then dean of VTS. He shared actively in the ministry of the parish all his life. Immanuel Church connects the seminary with the neighborhood and the City of Alexandria. For the parish, the seminary provides a deep connection to the wider Church; and the seminary supports within the congregation a thoughtful and generous faith in action. Deeply mindful that Immanuel Church was founded by and out of Virginia Seminary, the seminary and the parish seek to honor this heritage and history while building toward the future together. The covenant is a renewal of some of the key aspects of the two institutions’ life together.
The new chapel space will also be used for liturgy and worship for the first time during the Annual Spring Visit weekend. This year 44 prospective seminarians and their families arrive on campus Feb. 13 to experience the breadth of the seminary’s community and new worship space.