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 September 10, 2010


Dedication service reopens Chapel 1

Fort McCoy’s Chapel 1 marked another milestone in its long and distinguished service to Fort McCoy, holding its first worship service Aug. 22 since being renovated earlier this year.
PHOTO: Dr. Johnson George, guest speaker at the Chapel 1 dedication ceremony, addresses the attendees. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Shepherd
Dr. Johnson George, guest speaker at the Chapel 1 dedication ceremony, addresses the attendees. George, the director of the Good News Ministry in India, was a seminary classmate of Fort McCoy Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Ken Lawson and a long-time friend. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Shepherd)

Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Ken Lawson presided over the dedication.

“It has taken a lot of prayer and hard work to get to this point,” Lawson said. “In dedicating (this) chapel, we are simply acknowledging that God is the owner of this building. Yes, the garrison commander is responsible for all Fort McCoy facilities, and yes, the Religious Support Office (RSO) manages this building. But here is a structure that is more than wood and nails. Here is a place where we meet God. In the wood and mortar of this building is a place dedicated to the glory of God and the strengthening of faith.”

Chapel 1, building 2672, was constructed in 1942, part of the “new camp” at Camp McCoy, as the country prepared for World War II. This chapel was designed to last only five years, Lawson said, but almost 70 years later and newly renovated, it continues to serve Soldiers and their Families who serve in another time of war.

Within this historic building, men and women were married and then separated to fight Germany or Japan in World War II, he said.

The first babies who were dedicated to God here are now grandparents. Some of the Soldiers who were married here during World War II never came home.

This chapel served Soldiers and their Families through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991, and continues to serve Soldiers and their Families today, Lawson said.

“Families today are suffering through various emotional, physical and spiritual challenges as we have been at war for almost nine years,” Lawson said. “The stress on Families and servicemembers is significant. Here, in this chapel, all are welcomed to seek the Lord and to find His peace and His hope.”

“As we dedicate this building this morning, we are surrounded by a sense of history,” he said. “Men and women from our parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents’ generations worshipped in this very room. Families have sat here and sang and cried and prayed and worshipped through five wars.”

“Here there have been weddings, funerals, baptisms, memorial services and other religious ceremonies,” he said. “This is a sacred space.”

Lawson invited the attendees to honor those who came before them and to take a moment to reflect on them worshipping in the building and imagine what their lives were like.

Envision the Soldiers in World War II uniforms who entered this very building to pray before deployment, the civilians and military dependents in their 1940s clothing and hair styles who sat in the same area the congregation sits in, he said.

“Think about these Soldiers who left this chapel to go on trains to a port to then deploy overseas,” Lawson said. “The young Soldiers sitting here this morning represent the fourth generation of American men and women to worship in this chapel.”

The attention of the congregation shouldn’t be on the nice woodwork or the fresh coat of paint or the new carpet on the floor.
Lawson said instead the attention should be centered on God.

“Here people can meet the Lord,” he said. “Here Families and Soldiers can be made spiritually and emotionally whole. This is a place of faith, peace and hope.”

Lawson thanked his predecessor Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Steven Colwell, and Chaplains (Lt. Col.) James Brown, (Lt. Col.) Tom Shepard and the chaplain noncommissioned officer in charge Sgt. 1st Class Robert Shepherd for their hard work to support the renovation process and keep the worship schedule on track.

He also thanked the Directorate of Public Works for its help in coordinating the renovation.

For more information about the worship schedule at Fort McCoy and the surrounding communities, call the RSO at 608-388-3528.

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