BOLIVAR—It was a historic evening May 9 when Southwest Baptist University (SBU) celebrated the completion of its $1.5 million Mabee Chapel renovation project.
President C. Pat Taylor said he experienced many emotions, including tears of joy, during the combination banquet and dedication ceremony for the chapel and Pike Auditorium. The 15-year SBU leader talked about all that the building symbolizes on campus.
“Worship has been at the heart of Southwest Baptist University since its founding in 1878,” Taylor said. “All through its 133-year history, SBU has required chapel attendance of all undergraduate students. Chapel is an integral part of the undergraduate experience at SBU. Mabee Chapel also is used extensively by the Bolivar and southwest Missouri community. Mabee Chapel is at the very center of the SBU campus and is the heart of many of our programs. It is a very important building on our campus and to the Bolivar community.”
Taylor said he is very proud of the many individual donors, 614 in all, who contributed to the project’s grand total of $1,535,543. Another significant number is 751, which represents the number of alumni donor plaques on seats. There are 1,323 seats in the renovated auditorium.
The only other building on campus to generate a broader spectrum of givers is the Jane and Ken Meyer Wellness Center with its 1,100 donors.
Vice Chairman Raymond Tullius, Jr., came from Tulsa, Okla., to represent the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation, which has now helped twice with this facility through separate challenge gifts in 1978 and 2010. Tullius said the foundation, which was established in 1948, has $800 million in assets and has given away more than $900 million, mostly to private schools.
Rodney Reeves, dean of the Redford College of Theology and Ministry, offered the dedicatory prayer. He was intentional about giving credit to the many workers whose skill and craftsmanship are now evident to the general public while also challenging the university’s spiritual leaders to go forward in holiness.
“We would do more than simply offer our dedication prayer for a building,” Reeves prayed. “We stand before Almighty God as a living sacrifice.”
Charles Graham, who surrendered to full-time ministry in 1975 as an SBU student, sang a series of inspirational songs at the end of the program. His concert demonstrated how the chapel’s digital sound system can now produce an excellent acoustical effect. More lighting on either side of the auditorium was also evident.
“My life is full, has been enriched, because of this wonderful school,” Graham said.
Taylor is thankful that the chapel, once worn out, is now a delight.
“It’s as nice as anything we have,” he said.
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor