65 years of memories: Celebrating Miller Chapel
For generations, Miller Chapel served as the primary sacred space on Baylor’s campus. In recent years, the university has added more and more such spaces to campus in an effort to better integrate faith into each student’s Baylor experience. A side effect of that: Miller Chapel is not nearly as central a spot for today’s Baylor students as it was a generation ago.
Thus, when plans were worked up for a long-awaited renovation of Tidwell Bible Building, the designers made plans to better utilize the space currently occupied by Miller Chapel. (At the same time, they included plans for a new chapel in Tidwell on the building’s top floor that will provide a unique, inspiring view of campus.) But before Miller Chapel goes away, the university has plans for a Baylor Family celebration of the role it played in the Baylor experience over the last 65 years; more on that below.
First, a look back at why so many Bears feel so passionately about this space:
Groundbreaking for the Tidwell Bible Building took place in 1949 (after more than a decade of effort), and the landmark facility was completed in 1954. Its chapel was named for Baylor benefactors Mr. and Mrs. O.G. Miller of Waco, and the 550-seat facility quickly became the signature sacred space on campus. Along the way, accoutrements like a dramatic pipe organ and piano were added, contributing further to the ways in which the space could be used.
Over the years, thousands upon thousands of students have found in Miller Chapel a place for quiet reflection, away from the bustle of campus. Generations have enjoyed the sense of reverence, particularly when afternoon light through the stained glass windows bathed the chapel in blue and green hues. And for countless Bears, Miller Chapel is “the place where we got married,” thus holding an extra special place in many Baylor families’ histories.
The Tidwell renovation attempts to balance recognizing such history and memories with the needs of today’s students and faculty. In the case of Miller Chapel, the space will be turned into much-needed office and classroom space, but the signature stained glass windows will remain to honor its past (see renderings here). And as noted above, Tidwell isn’t losing its chapel; I, for one, am excited for the chance to pray over campus from this new vantage point.
As we anticipate the meaningful changes coming to Tidwell, we’ll all get one more chance to enjoy Miller Chapel’s beauty in a special open house on Aug. 31, before the football season opener. The chapel will be decorated as for a wedding or special event, and a professional photographer will be on hand for photos; the event is free, with no RSVP needed.
Sic ’em, Miller Chapel!