Elliston Chapel Offers Beauty and Accessibility

July 27, 2015
When discussions began several years ago regarding the design of the future East Village, the idea of including a chapel was important to all parties. The chapel was immediately made a part of the plans, and a space was set aside for its construction.

“It wasn’t something we had to convince anybody of or write justifications for,” said Burt Burleson, DMin, university chaplain and dean of spiritual life. “It was the thought that ‘This is Baylor, and what we do is think about the life of the soul and dedicate places for corporate worship’.”

Elliston Chapel, made possible through a lead gift from former Baylor Regent Gary Elliston and his wife Molli, BS ’75, follows a plan by Baylor to continue to invest in sacred spaces on campus for students, faculty and staff. Evidence of this commitment can be seen across the University, including in the reflection rooms that were created during the renovation of North and South Russell residence halls.

Elliston Chapel was designed to be unique both in appearance and in its openness to the Baylor community.

“It was in our minds from the beginning that this would be a place of brightness and accessibility and have a feeling of newness and hope,” Dr. Burleson said. “Elliston Chapel is certainly a very reverent place, but it also has a feeling of joy when you walk in.”

The stained glass windows, depicting the “dayspring on high” as described in Luke, give the space an inviting and joyful feel.

“The chapel provides a serene and worshipful setting for all to enjoy in what is becoming one of the most active parts of campus,” said Kevin Jackson, Vice President for Student Life.

The weeklong celebration of the completion and opening of the Elliston Chapel began with a special dedication service attended by four generations of the Elliston family and members of Baylor faculty and staff. During the dedication ceremony, Gary Elliston, a former regent, noted that the motivation behind their gift to the University came from a desire to change students’ lives and that he hoped Elliston Chapel would be space where this transformation occurs.

Throughout the week, 17 services and gatherings were held in the chapel. Several of these were staff meetings, including that of the Executive Council who gathered in Elliston Chapel for a time of prayer and worship. Heavenly Voices, Teal Residential College, Reformed University Fellowship (RUF), and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship gathered in the chapel, and a number of community-wide services were also held.

In the future, Elliston Chapel will be open for individuals looking for a sacred place to reflect or to pray in addition to being available for the use of groups and organizations on campus. Morning and evening prayers as Chapel alternatives for students living in East Village will also take place.

“Elliston Chapel is going to be a very sought after space come the fall,” Dr. Burleson said. “And year after year, it will be a place of sacred encounter for the Baylor community.”