Facts about the Harvey D. Grace Memorial Chapel renovation

In light of several misinformed articles and web posts about the recent renovation of WSU’s Harvey D. Grace Memorial Chapel, we’ve assembled this fact sheet to address the most serious errors.

No. 1: Grace Memorial Chapel was never a “Christian chapel” prior to the renovation.

Grace Memorial Chapel was constructed in 1963 as an all-faiths chapel in accordance with the wishes of the donor. An original plaque in the foyer says: “This chapel is to be open to all creeds and all races of people.”

No. 2: The chapel hasn't been turned into a mosque. Muslim students haven't “taken over” the chapel.

The chapel operates exactly as it has from its founding, and is open to students and members of the WSU community regardless of faith. The Muslim students bring their religious items into the chapel for their services and remove them afterward. Christian students continue to use the chapel. All faiths are welcome, as they always have been.

No 3: Christian items haven't been removed.

The appointments of the chapel are exactly the same as they were before, except that there are chairs available instead of pews. No crosses (nor any symbols designating a particular religion) were ever on permanent display in the chapel. Sometimes crosses were brought in for worship services or other events, including weddings. Crosses may still be brought in. The original altar (which was unadorned by symbolism) had been replaced by a simple lectern long before the renovation. That lectern remains in place. The organ also remains in place.

No. 4: Christians still come to the chapel.

Christian student groups continue to use the space, and it is open to groups from other faiths as well. When not reserved it is open to all for prayer and meditation.

No. 5: The university didn't bend to a minority group.

Muslim students' request to use the chapel was sponsored by student government, supported by Christian ministers and approved by a campus committee. In fact, the campus Christian minister at the time of the renovation, who served on that committee, advocated the removal of fixed pews because it made the small space more flexible for Bible study and other activities for student groups. Christian student groups have been similarly welcoming of the changes.

More information

For more detailed information about the chapel's history, renovation and future plans, please read WSU President John Bardo's letter on the matter.