Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2010-01-28


The chapel that has served as the place of worship for Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School for 15 years was re-consecrated as a “sacred space” during a special service Tuesday, Jan. 26.

Beeson students, faculty and guests filled Andrew Gerow Hodges Chapel to celebrate the anniversary with litany, prayers and song.

“Fifteen years ago we gathered here to consecrate this hallowed place to the glory of God, and now, we are here to re-commit ourselves and this sacred space,” said founding dean Dr. Timothy George, adding that the event marked a time to “chart a new beginning in the work of God and in our own lives.”

The divinity school, established in 1988, first dedicated its distinctive chapel in 1995. In 2002, the chapel, with its spectacular demonstration of Protestant sacred art, was named for Andrew Gerow Hodges, a longtime trustee of Samford and personal friend of school benefactor Ralph W. Beeson.

The chapel features the work of Romanian-born artist Petru Botezatu, who painted the Great Cloud of Witnesses within its dome and panels in the chancel apses that celebrate the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Anniversary festivities began with a procession of faculty and students from the Ralph W. Beeson statue on Centennial Walk to the chapel, with a stop for scripture reading and prayer at Beeson Green, site of the groundbreaking for divinity hall.

In his sermon, George recalled major episodes in Christian history that began in church settings:  the Protestant Reformation that followed Martin Luther’s posting the 95 theses on a German church door in 1517; the religious revolution that stemmed from a woman’s protesting the English book of prayer in a Scottish church in 1637; and the beginnings of Methodism after John Wesley felt his heart “strangely warmed” in a small chapel in 18th century England.

All three events were rooted in a sacred place, said George. What God did in Germany, Scotland or England, he said, “He may do in Birmingham.”

George noted that the chapel, even though it sits in the heart of a campus, is not to be considered as an auditorium or meeting hall.

“We come here not to escape from the world, but to be changed.”

The service also included the dedication of the chapel’s new curator, Victoria Gaston, and chapel attendants Robert Crouse, Whittney Faucett, John Lambuth and Laura Zappia.

The chapel is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon for tours, personal prayer and meditation.  Tours can be scheduled through the curator’s office at (205) 726-2227.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.