In June 2005, the University renamed the University Chapel after Mr. Orvall McCleary, a member of the class of 1949. Mr. McCleary grew up near Rensellaer, IN, and attended a United Brethren in Christ congregation during his childhood. As the plaque that hangs on the wall outside the chapel indicates, the University's affiliation with the United Methodist Church continues.
The three primary colors of the four stained glass windows are intended to evoke images of earth (yellow), wind (clear), and water (blue). The windows were designed for the chapel in 1965 by Dr. Gerry Boyce, a longtime faculty member and the late chair of the University's Art Department.
Recognized in both Eastern and Western Christian communions, the cross is a sacred symbol of deep significance for all disciples of Jesus Christ. The four crosses in the quadrants display the healing power of the cross that reaches to the four corners of the earth. At the same time, the cross reminds Christians of the gospel hope that people will “come from east and west and north and south and feast in the kingdom of God.”
Table of Gathering
The beautiful oak wood is shaped in a way that draws everything to the center of the worship space. Recalling the memory of the United Brethren recognition that “we are brothers,” this table signifies the prospect of community and the hope of welcome. Regardless of faith commitments that we bring to this place, everyone at the University has a place at this table. When Christians use the table, of course, it becomes the setting for the Eucharist, or the Lord's Supper, where Christians recall with thanksgiving the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Persons of other faiths use the space in other ways, such as when Jewish faculty and students light the menorah or a Sabbath candle to welcome the presence of God in sacred time.
Water serves as a powerful symbol in Christianity and many other religious traditions. The fountain is made of black granite from the altar of an earlier space used as the University's chapel and is designed by Mr. Ken Piepenbrink, director of the Physical Plant office. The water that moves across the smooth granite surface is intended to remind us of the devotion of other people at other times in the history of this institution and of the lifegiving sustenance that we receive along with all creation.
The circular space adjacent to the chapel has been designed for use by individuals and small groups from various faith traditions who seek a quiet space for prayer, meditation, or silent reflection at particular times of the day and week. Except for the arrow in the carpet, which points to the east, the meditation room is unadorned. Several afternoons each week, shoes can be seen outside the door of the meditation room when students, faculty, and staff gather to engage in Zen Buddhist meditation. Other students (Muslims, for example) offer prayer at particular times of the day and week. In this same space, Protestant and Catholic groups of Christians also gather to pray with and for one another from time to time.