chapel

Paul Leavy | The Valdosta Daily Times Father Richard Lewis gives a prayer with Rev. Jim Schappaugh along with the members of South Georgia Medical Center's Volunteer Auxilary sitting in chairs during the blessing of the All-Faiths Chapel at SGMC Wednesday.

VALDOSTA — The newly-renovated All-Faiths Chapel at South Georgia Medical Center was blessed Wednesday morning. Originally completed in 1965, the chapel’s use has been limited in recent years because its design didn’t meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for walkers and wheelchairs, said Laura Love, SGMC community relations director.

In 2008, the SGMC Volunteer Auxiliary took up the challenge of raising funds to renovate the All-Faiths chapel. They successfully donated over $60,000 to the project, Love said. In-kind contributions from local businesses, including Cauthan Construction, CMA Architectural Services and Modern Design Concepts helped complete the renovation under budget, she said.

The SGMC Volunteer Chaplains Association decided to call Wednesday’s gathering a blessing ceremony because the chapel had already been dedicated in 1966, said SGMC chaplain Stephen Norris. Members of the SGMC Volunteer Auxiliary, the Volunteer Chaplains Association, hospital staff and others gathered first in the hospital cafeteria to thank donors and give a brief history of the chapel, Norris said. The newly renovated space is open and accessible for all types of patients including wheelchair and walker patients, Love said. Instead of fixed pews, comfortable chairs can be moved or rearranged as needed. A new sound system provides the option of listening to spiritual music, she said. A raised altar and kneeling benches have also been incorporated into the design. A colorful, pastoral stained-glass scene adorns the wall behind the altar.

From its inception in 1958, the SGMC Chaplain’s Association has recognized the need for quiet space where hospital staff, patients and families could seek spiritual comfort, Love said. The chapel is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she added. The All-Faiths chapel is on the first floor of SGMC near the cafeteria, close to the main lobby.

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