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Christ Chapel has been offi­cially ded­i­cated. Christa Green | Courtesy

Nearly two years after con­struction began, faculty, staff, stu­dents, and friends of Hillsdale College gathered for the highly antic­i­pated ded­i­cation of Christ Chapel on Oct. 3. Head­lining the attendees was Clarence Thomas, Asso­ciate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, who delivered ded­i­catory remarks. 

“By con­structing this chapel, the college upholds the impor­tance of its Christian roots, even as it respects the rights of each person to worship God according to the dic­tates of his own con­science,” Thomas said to a crowd of more than 800.

The college broke ground on the project on Nov. 7, 2017 and the chapel’s con­struction was orig­i­nally expected to be com­pleted earlier this year. After nearly two years, only minor interior and exterior con­struction remains, and the building is open.

“When you walk into here, do you not look up and think of the ultimate things?” Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arnn asked the audience before Thomas spoke.

Thomas shared per­sonal remarks about the role of faith in his own life and noted the impor­tance of having a sacred space for prayer and praise.

“Chapels are par­tic­u­larly important in pro­viding a place for the bur­dened, the broken-hearted, and the despairing,” Thomas said. “When life is dif­ficult and seems pointless, we need a safe haven where we can escape from the storm and find solace. Chapels provide that setting.”

Thomas explained that the presence of a chapel on a college campus was par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­icant. 

“The college years require young people to make deci­sions that will affect the rest of their lives. They are exposed to new ideas, new rela­tion­ships, new dis­trac­tions, and new temp­ta­tions. They need a place where they can go to be relieved of their troubles and what they are bearing as so much comes at them so fast,” Thomas said. “By building this chapel, Hillsdale College has pro­vided that space where stu­dents can come to discern God’s calling, to pray through dif­ficult times, and to praise God for his faith­fulness.”

The ded­i­cation began with per­for­mances by Hillsdale College’s Choir and Chamber Choir under the direction of Pro­fessor and Music Department Chairman James Holleman. The choir opened the cer­emony with a per­for­mance of “I Was Glad,” com­posed by Hubert Parry.

“‘I was Glad’ has been sung at every English coro­nation since 1902. Its lyrics come from Psalm 122, in which David prays for peace in Jerusalem,” junior and Chamber Choir member Gabriel Kramer said. “Christ Chapel is meant to serve as a fore­taste of the eternal peace that all believers will expe­rience in the New Jerusalem.”

The choir also sung Johannes Brahms’ “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place,” a choral setting of Psalm 84.

“It describes the yearning of the soul to enter the dwelling place of God,” Kramer said. “It’s an exceed­ingly appro­priate text for the opening of the chapel.”

The ded­i­cation cer­emony was live streamed on both Hillsdale College’s website and Facebook page, and the video is still available to watch.