|The one-room meeting house concept is very
close to the original tradition of worship space in the church, says the
projects architect Michael Farewell of Ford Farewell Mills and Gatsch. The
renovations of the 1930s bi-compartmentalized the space and made the chancel hierarchical
in relation to the nave. This restoration will reclaim the single-room configuration in
which the celebrants, the choir, and the congregation are really united in one
Theology has determined some of the changes to the chapels interior. The now-elevated floor of the chancel will be removed, and the communion table relocated so that it is at the same level as the congregation. There will be a new, central pulpit, emphasizing the centrality of the preached Word of God in the Reformed tradition. The pulpit, reusing elements from the present pulpit, will be a bit higher than the communion table for better acoustics and visibility, but it will be set architecturally in relationship to the table in front of it.
And the pulpit will be moveable, to allow for conversion of the space for musical programs, recitals, weddings, and classes.
The present organ will be replaced with a new mechanical-action (tracker) instrument. Our present Moeller organ, an electro-pneumatic instrument, has been steadily wearing down, says Martin Tel, PTS choir director and organist. We need an instrument that is better able to support congregational singing, and so we decided to start from scratch to imagine a new instrument for the new space.
The renovation will also make the chapel accessible to people with disabilities. There will be wheelchair access at the basement and the nave levels, as well as space for wheelchairs at the communion table, in the choir stalls, and in the congregational seating area.
Plans call for bringing the chapel into conformity with current safety codes and for upgrading lighting,
|air conditioning, and sound systems.
The days of students and staff members spending hours working, rehearsing, or visiting counselors in the damp chapel basement are over. Offices now located in the frequently mildewed basement will be moved into the new Scheide Hall.
Built of stone to match other buildings on the quadrangle, the new building will house offices for the campus pastor, the organist/choir director, a counselor, and support staff on the first floor. On the second floor, a soundproof rehearsal room with a grand piano will provide appropriate rehearsal space for the Seminary choirs. The large, light-filled room will also double as a classroom, recital hall, or reception area.
From the south end of the building, a floor-to-ceiling bay window will overlook the chapel portico, and the two buildings will be joined by a lovely courtyard and garden that will include a small amphitheater. The just-graduated Class of 1999 has already earmarked their class gift for plantings and benches for this garden area.
Oversight of the renovation plans has been in the hands of a committee appointed by President Thomas W. Gillespie in 1995 and chaired by Dr. James F. Kay, the Joe R. Engle Associate Professor of Homiletics and Liturgics. Other members of the committee are Frederick F. Lansill, PTS vice president for financial affairs; Kathryn A. Johnson, the Seminarys director of student relations; James Deming, assistant professor of modern European church history; Joel Mattison, PTS alumnus, Class of 1954; Rosemary Hall Evans, member of the Board of Trustees; and Martin Tel.
The church is always the people, says Jim Kay as he looks forward to the chapels restoration. But faith takes form in buildings. Miller Chapel is the place our students worship the God they study. For many, Miller Chapel is the soul, spirit, and heart of their experience of Princeton Seminary.
An Oasis for Reformed Worship
by Barbara A. Chaapel
While he never preached a sermon in Miller Chapel, Dr. Donald Macleod spent many
hours in its pews listening to others preach. PTSs Francis Landey Patton Professor
of Preaching and Worship Emeritus estimates that he heard 9000 student sermons preached
from Millers pulpit during homiletics classes he taught while at the Seminary from
1946 to 1983.
I take some credit for giving the chapel and its services an
identification in the orientation of the academic and devotional attitudes of the Seminary
community, he says.
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