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Edwards Interfaith Chapel to benefit community

Jill AndersonVail Daily Correspondent
Special to the Daily
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EDWARDS, Colorado – Have you noticed the building going up on U.S. Highway 6 just west of the Eagle River Village trailer park and Fox Hollow in Edwards? Have you taken a moment to notice the windows, how it is nestled into the hillside or the nice piece of land it sits on? It is the new Edwards Interfaith Chapel and Community Center scheduled to open this fall. When it opens, it will provide many benefits to the communityTrue visionariesThe chapel has been 16 years in the making. In 1994, a group of local residents started planning and locating a chapel site in the Edwards area. That group included 12 clergy and over three dozen board members over the years, not to mention the hundreds of people who have donated (mostly anonymously). The facility will be managed by four of the congregations currently using both the Vail and Beaver Creek interfaith chapels: Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, B’nai Vail Jewish Congregation, Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church and Covenant Presbyterian Church.While creating a place for worship and gathering in the mid-valley was the major motivation for these congregations, the members of the chapel foundation have consistently seen beyond those uses. “Community was deliberately added to the name because community is a major part of what this facility will bring to Edwards and our valley”, said Rabbi Debra Rappaport of B’nai Vail Congregation.A phased approachThe first phase of the building includes a multi-purpose space, a kitchen, six classrooms, a youth room and adult gathering spaces, along with outdoor areas for summer activities. Eventually the building will include two separate worship spaces as well as additional classrooms and offices for the congregations. Being able to host multiple events at one time was another key factor in the design of the complex.Building the education rooms first was the heart of the community center focus. The six classrooms will be designed for all ages and faiths, from pre-school through adults. Four of the classrooms have outdoor access and will be able to host a variety of community groups. There will be event seating for 250 people and table seating for 150 people. Full meals can be served from the building’s kitchen. The building can also serve as an emergency shelter when the need arises. The floor will have athletic carpet and the walls and other furnishings will be kid-friendly for youth activities.”We managed to build in the flexibility and still design a beautiful, serene space with fantastic views,” said Steve Baird, chairman of the fundraising campaign that has raised $8.5 million so far.Community benefitsDan Smith of the Vail Valley chapter of the Salvation Army and Rob Henderson of the American Red Cross are already working together to have cots and other supplies needed to set up an emergency shelter. When Vail Pass closes for an extended period, there is a limited amount of suitable space available in the valley. With ample parking and a mid-valley location, the chapel will add hundreds of more beds to that supply.An additional free community supper is being planned for the center. It will add to the Monday meal at the Methodist church in Eagle and the Wednesday one at the Eagle River Presbyterian Church in Avon. These meals provide an additional source of food to our community at a time when the Salvation Army and other food pantries are seeing a huge increase in demand. Trinity Church in Edwards is currently hosting the Thursday meal. The plan is to move this meal to the new chapel in September.Finishing the classroomsThe interior of the building is being completed in phases. Another $1 million is needed to finish all of the classrooms and second floor areas. The foundation has received a challenge pledge whereby the next $1 million of contributions will be matched.Once completed, this new building will be a great asset to our community. Like the chapels in Vail and Beaver Creek, it will fulfill needs we cannot even begin to imagine. Father Brooks Keith of the Episcopal Church remembers Sept. 11, 2001, when more than 700 people spontaneously gathered at the Vail Interfaith Chapel. “Everyone just knew where to go,” said Brooks.Soon, in Edwards, everyone there will know where to go, too.For more information about the chapel project, call Baird, 970-390-594.Jill Anderson owns Anderson Marketing & Communications. To reach her, call 970-524-1044 or e-mail jill@andersonmarketingcommunications.com.


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