Air Force, base officials to dedicate first new chapel in 20 years

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Base and visiting officials are scheduled to dedicate the new all-faiths chapel at Buckley Air Force Base today.

The dedication ceremony, hosted by Gen. Lance W. Lord, Air Force Space Command commander, begins at 11 a.m. at the new chapel facility.

The $6 million, 26,800 square-foot facility is the first new chapel to be dedicated by the Air Force in the continental United States in 20 years and features a nave capable of seating 325 people, a fellowship hall, classrooms and chapel staff offices.

The new chapel represents leadership's commitment to caring for their people, Ch. Maj. Weston Walker, Buckley Air Force Base head chaplain said.

"Our leaders recognize that to accomplish our nation's mission, we must genuinely care for our people," he said. "Part of that care is nurturing their spirits."

And that's easier now that the chapel staff has their own facility. For the last six years, weekly services and special events hosted by the chapel have been in the auditorium of building 606 or in one of the modular buildings removed from the base last year.

"We're going to be able to better meet the needs of families," said Debbie Cruz, the chapel office assistant. "We'll be able to have Sunday school classes and children's programs, and we'll be able to accommodate larger congregations."

Not all of the programs will be available right away, but the chapel hopes to grow into its new home quickly, Chaplain Walker said. He hopes the building will mean a "higher profile" for chapel programs, as people realize everything the chapel has to offer and that it meets the needs of faith traditions that value a more traditional worship setting and esthetic.

The purpose of the chaplain service is to support religious freedom and provide spiritual care. They do that through worship services and counseling - individual, marital and spiritual growth.

The chaplain service also plays an immeasurable role in service members' morale by hosting special events like the Valentine's Day Sweetheart Banquet, annual chili cook-off, National Prayer luncheon and monthly fellowship luncheons.

Protestant services are scheduled to begin Feb. 26, while the chapel hopes to begin Roman Catholic services this summer.
The chapel features stained glass art by Denver-based artist Mark Stein of Transparent Dreams Glass Studio.

The last chapel dedicated in the continental United States was Lackland AFB's permanent party chapel, which opened June 20, 1986.