Dover airmen and their families now have a way to come together for worship, for thanks and even for grief.
A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony was held Feb. 25 at the new chapel center at Dover Air Force Base, Del., celebrating chaplains, lawmakers and airmen who made the new chapel a reality.
“I’m reminded of all the spiritual needs of the men and women of Dover,” said Rep. John Carney in his opening remarks.
“This is in support of those fallen warriors.”
Dover has served as the port mortuary since the 1950s, welcoming home thousands of fallen warriors. In 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and President Obama opened the door for families to see the true cost of conflict.
“[These airmen] go where they are led,” said Maj. Gen. Howard Stendahl, the chief of chaplains.
His keynote remarks told the story of many chaplains and airmen alike who not only do their duty, but enrich one another because they remain faithful to the traditions of their practices and worship.
“That which we celebrate here will never go away … this building one day may leave us, but this, this is eternal.”
The new center is over 19,300 square feet and contains the main sanctuary, three large classrooms that could be divided into six small rooms — for functions such as choir practice or a children’s playroom — administrative offices, an audio visual room, an annex room and an “all faiths” room.
The annex room is designed as a reception center for family members to grieve in in the event of a mass casualty.
The “all faiths” room functions as a neutral room, but includes a water basin inside for Muslim faith patrons to wash before prayer. It serves a range of religious traditions in addition to Christian and Muslim including Judaic, Buddhist and Earth Base religious traditions.
The main sanctuary also remains neutral after services are conducted — three Catholic and one Protestant service are conducted weekly.
To learn more about the Dover Chapel Center, check out Air Force Times’ upcoming story written by staff writer Kristin Davis.