Miller Chapel Undergoes Renovation
Since the beginning of February, the doors of Frederic K. Miller Chapel have been closed and the sound of its organ has been replaced by the sound of power tools. The project represents the first Chapel renovation since the building’s construction four decades ago.
It’s fitting that Miller Chapel received its first renovation just in time for the College’s 150th anniversary celebration. The renovations feature updates to the stage/performance area and lobby, new audio-visual technology including a fixed 16-foot by 9-foot screen, and significantly improved general and stage area lighting. These enhancements will transform the space into an inviting large-audience, multi-purpose venue, while maintaining the chapel’s traditional identity as a quiet place of reflection.
“As soon as access was available early in the summer, student leaders returned to campus to plan setup for weekly worship and weekly Catholic Mass,” said Rev. Fullmer, College chaplain. “There is much excitement among the students for this beautiful new space! The addition of a Prayer Room adjacent to the lobby of the Chapel provides students from a variety of faith traditions with dedicated space for times of quiet, reflection, scripture reading, and personal prayer.”
In addition to worship services, the Chapel hosts a variety of special events, including Christmas at The Valley, baccalaureate, concerts and music recitals, and weddings. The renovations and improved audio-visual capabilities allow for new additional worship and cultural events on campus as well, said Rev. Fullmer.
Also new to the Chapel is an icon painted by Dorothy Thayne, Lebanon Valley College’s visiting artist and scholar. The icon shows the Holy Mother and the Christ child in a loving embrace that emphasizes natural human feeling and the tenderness of motherly love.
Finally, Marlin Nye, the College’s carpenter, crafted the new podium and altar. He has made other pieces for campus buildings in the past.
The Chapel renovation was made possible thanks to gifts from generous College supporters.
Dr. Susan Engle ’78 contributed to the Chapel renovation in celebration of her family’s numerous contributions to Lebanon Valley College. The Engle family—for whom the lobby is named—has been friends of the College since 1890 when family members first began serving on the Board of Trustees. The family’s generosity has helped grow and beautify the campus, while supporting our students, for more than a century. Benjamin Engle was the original family benefactor who supported the former Engle Conservatory of Music, built in 1899. Several family members graduated from Lebanon Valley, served on the faculty and Board of Trustees, and established three endowed scholarships.
The sanctuary is named in honor of Lois Brong Miller ’61. Mrs. Miller, a former educator and daughter of educators, is an accomplished musician and performer who was instrumental in the reconstruction of the Allentown Symphony Hall. She served on the board of directors of the Allentown Symphony Orchestra Association for many years, including a period as president of the board. A true friend of her alma mater, and especially the College’s Music Department, Mrs. Miller’s generosity through the establishment of The Lois Brong Miller ’61 Music Education Scholarship in 2003 has enabled numerous LVC music education students to realize their dreams.
The College also extends its appreciation to Richard A. Zimmerman H’92 and Nancy C. Zimmerman ’53. The late Mr. Zimmerman named the College as a beneficiary of his estate, and that gift was instrumental in supporting this restoration. Mr. Zimmerman spent much of his career at Hershey Foods where he retired as president and CEO in 1994. Both Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman served on Lebanon Valley College’s Board of Trustees and have been leaders of numerous other civic and charitable organizations.
About Miller Chapel
Later named after Dr. Frederic K. Miller, LVC Class of 1929, the building opened as the College Chapel and was dedicated Oct. 30, 1966. The date was chosen to correspond with the midway point of the College’s Centennial Celebration. It was re-dedicated Miller Chapel in honor of Dr. Miller Oct. 28, 1972.
The opening of the Chapel marked the first time in the College’s history that a building was set aside primarily for fulfilling the spiritual needs of the College family.
The first College chapel was probably the parlor on the east side of South Hall. During the intervening years, several locations were used for chapel services. The former Administration Building, which was destroyed by fire in 1904, served from 1867 to 1899; Engle Hall was used from 1899 to 1946; and services were held in the Annville Evangelical United Brethren Church on the corner of Main Street and College Avenue from 1946 to 1966.
To create space for the chapel, Keister Hall, formerly North Hall, was razed in August 1965. Almost a year later, the Rev. Dr. Hermann W. Kaebnick, bishop for the eastern area of the Evangelical United Brethren Church, laid the chapel’s cornerstone. Bishop Kaebnick returned to preside over the dedication ceremony later that year.