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(Alexandria, Va.) – On Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, approximately 250 will gather at Virginia Theological Seminary to dedicate the school’s new Chapel Garden. The garden sits on the site of the seminary’s 1881 chapel that was destroyed by fire three years ago and is enclosed by the remains of the chapel’s walls.
“The consecration of this space has never been revoked, even after the tragic fire that brought about the chapel’s destruction,” said the Rt. Rev. James J. Shand, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton and chair of the VTS board of trustees “Now, thanks to the kindness of generous benefactors, a new mission has come into being for this place: that this Chapel Garden might be a place of meditation and worship and that it might be a place where members of the wider Seminary family and its friends might be buried.”
The 1881 chapel was an important space for the VTS students, faculty and staff who worshipped there daily. It also was a special place for the parishioners of Alexandria’s Immanuel-Church-on-the Hill, who worshipped at the chapel on Sunday mornings until its destruction. Additionally, generations of Episcopal High School students gathered in the chapel for services for several decades until the 1970s.
The new green space is the result of the work of Michael Vergason Landscape Architects Ltd., a world-renowned landscape architect. Based in Vergason’s native Alexandria, the company is responsible for beautiful and memorable spaces around the world, such as the visitor center grounds at Normandy Cemetery and Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello.
“We are grateful to our landscape architect who created our very own garden – our very own Eden on our campus grounds,” said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, dean and president of VTS.
During the service, Markham will also recognize and thank members of the Alexandria Fire Department who worked through the night to contain the fire and save as much of the structure as possible; the Alexandria Board of Architectural review, which encouraged the seminary to envision a commemorative use for the chapel ruin, and Mary Kay Lanzillotta of Washington’s Hartman-Cox Architects.“Our Chapel Garden has arrived,” Markham said. “This will be a place of prayer. This will be a place for the celebration of the Eucharist. This will be a holy space where we can encounter our creator through the beauty of the creation.”
Founded in 1823, Virginia Theological Seminary is the largest of the 11 accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church. The school prepares men and women, representing more than 40 different dioceses and nine different countries, for service in the Church, both as ordained and lay ministers, and offers a number of professional degree programs and diplomas. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.