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“The one-room meeting house concept is very close to the original tradition of worship space in the church,” says the project’s 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 space.”

Theology has determined some of the changes to the chapel’s 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 Seminary’s 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 chapel’s 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.”dot.gif (37 bytes)

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. PTS’s Francis Landey Patton Professor of Preaching and Worship Emeritus estimates that he heard 9000 student sermons preached from Miller’s pulpit during homiletics classes he taught while at the Seminary from 1946 to 1983.
In many ways, Miller Chapel was Macleod’s home at Princeton Seminary. He arrived as a graduate student from Toronto in 1946 and studied with Dr. Andrew Blackwood in the preaching and worship department. The next year then-president Mackay asked him to join the faculty.

But Mackay had other plans for Macleod as well. “He assigned me the task of bringing order to the program of daily worship in the chapel,” Macleod recalls.

Macleod describes finding a certain unrest among the students related to worship. “Senior class members were assigned services in alphabetical order. There was no plan, and no supervision; Scripture texts were chosen without any consideration of the church year; the same hymns were repeated again and again; and prayers were noteworthy more for their wordiness and length than for any theological rationality,” he says.

So Macleod became “a sort of advisor” to lift the quality of worship in chapel services. He began to hold conferences with all student worship leaders to discuss choice of hymns and Scripture texts, and created a board of chapel deacons to greet worshippers at the door, post the hymn numbers, and provide ushering for visitors. He arranged and furnished a seminar room in the basement for classes and meetings related to worship in which the chapel council meets to this day.

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“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.

Soon after the beginning of President McCord’s tenure in 1959, Macleod was made full professor of preaching and worship. With added teaching responsibilities, he could no longer administer the chapel program, and Arlo D. Duba was brought on as director of admissions and of the chapel, “an excellent appointment” in Macleod’s words.

Macleod especially enjoyed working with three of PTS’s directors of music — first David Hugh Jones, then James Litton, and finally David A. Weadon, “a young organist and choir director of unusual competence” whom Macleod discovered at Westminster Choir College and brought to McCord’s attention.

He also appreciated the Seminary’s relationship with the Princeton University Chapel. He was a member of its board of directors, supervised its summer services, and preached and conducted weddings and baptisms under its Gothic arches.

But it is Miller Chapel that Macleod believes to be the center of Reformed worship both in America and abroad. “It must continue to be a Christian liturgical oasis within its campus,” he avows.
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