A crane lifted an L-shaped cornerstone and placed it into the southwest corner of the under-construction Christ Chapel on Tuesday to a round of applause. The stone proclaims in Greek and Latin: “For God and country.”
Rev. Adam Rick, Hillsdale College chaplain, blessed the cornerstone during a dedication ceremony, immediately following Convocation. Provost David Whalen said the event marked the spiritual significance of the new chapel and religious founding of the college.
“This ceremony recognizes the unique nature of this building as set apart, as sacred to God,” Whalen said. “The building of this chapel is very much an act of gratitude, and we trust, we hope and pray that generations and generations of warm gratitude will be given to God for all of our blessings.”
The $28.5-million chapel — due for completion in May 2019 — will be 27,000 square feet and hold up to 1,350 people for large lectures, music concerts, and Convocation.
“You can’t read the story of Hillsdale College without understanding freedom, high learning, character, and God,” Arnn said. “Those four things are an integrity. They are part of a whole. They always have been. Because the whole has an integrity, the college thrives.”
Before the cornerstone was set in place, Jo and Jack Babbitt, the leading benefactors of the building, fixed into the chapel’s wall a Bible, the ceremony’s program, the Honor Code, and the college’s Articles of Association to be preserved there in perpetuity.
“All those things are permanent things,” Arnn said. “They are part of the record of the making of this college and this chapel.”
It may also be a testament to the dedications of other cornerstones on campus. Senior Hans Noyes, who is doing a project of Hillsdale’s religious history for a public history project to be put on display in the Heritage Room, said he learned a Bible was placed into the foundations of Central Hall, as well.
“It’s neat they’re paying homage to that,” Noyes said.
Jo Babbitt said Psalm 118:22 explained the significance of the dedication: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”
“I hope God’s wisdom and knowledge will be built up on that cornerstone — Christ alone and cornerstone,” she said.