COLUMBIA, Ky. -- More than 15 years ago this fall, the Lindsey Wilson College community “planted a temple.” Since then, the college “has been blessed beyond belief.”
The “temple” was the John B. Begley Chapel, which was dedicated October 10, 1997, after a November 16, 1996, groundbreaking ceremony. The $2 million chapel was the first building placed on the LWC A.P. White Campus whose sole purpose was worship.
“A temple was planted in our midst – a building whose only purpose was to glorify God,” LWC Dean of the Chapel Rev. Terry Swan said October 24. “And it became the symbol of the school … I don’t even think we grasped the significance of it at the time.”
On Wednesday afternoon, members of the LWC community celebrated the Begley Chapel’s impact and also the college’s affiliation with the Kentucky Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church at the school’s annual Church Celebration Day, held in V.P. Henry Auditorium.
LWC was founded in 1903 to serve as a training school for Vanderbilt (Tenn.) University, which was then affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Throughout LWC’s history, college leaders talked about plans to build a chapel, but the commitment to do it was not made until the mid-1990s when two anonymous donors pledged money to build the Begley Chapel.
When the decision was made to build the first chapel in LWC history, “this college took a leap of faith,” said William T. Luckey Jr., who has been at LWC since 1983 and the college’s eighth president since 1998. “(It) planted a temple to honor God, and God’s blessings have been pouring upon us abundantly ever since. … This college has been blessed beyond belief.”
Swan, who has been an LWC faculty member since 1985, said a fervent belief in the Lindsey Wilson mission also helped make the Begley Chapel a reality.
“The repetition of the mantra of our mission became part of us – part of our institutional culture, part of our very identity of who we are now at Lindsey Wilson College,” he said. “We came to believe in this college, in this holy place because we believed in a holy God. We wanted to bring wholeness to the lives of others through this educational endeavor.”
Soon after drawings for the Begley Chapel were unveiled in fall 1995 by its principal architect, the world-renowned E. Fay Jones, the building’s architecture became the basis for the college’s graphic identity.
“What happened was this chapel became this wordless, even breathless, symbol of this God who is not just there but the God that is right here, right now, ever present,” Swan said.
Fifteen years after the Begley Chapel’s dedication, LWC’s enrollment has more than doubled and its faculty has been expanded by more than 170 percent as it strives to be what Luckey calls “a model United Methodist college or university in the 21st century.”
But as Swan noted, that growth would not have been possible without a community of individuals imbued with faith in their work.
“All the diligent work that has gone into this holy place has been a combination of human perspiration and divine inspiration,” Swan said. “This is our holy place, where we bring people to wholeness, every staff member, every student, every day.”