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New Interfaith chapel on track

Nathan Rodriguez
Vail, CO Colorado

EDWARDS, Colorado ” Plans for a new interfaith chapel in Edwards are picking up steam, and clergy members from across the Vail Valley are combining efforts to ensure the project remains on track.

The Edwards interfaith chapel joins existing interfaith chapels in Vail and Beaver Creek, but offers a more convenient venue for local residents to worship and convene, said Myrna Sigman, board member of the Eagle Valley Religious Foundation.

“We wanted a downvalley presence. The demographics have changed over time and a lot of families have moved down to the Edwards area,” said Sigman. “Of course everyone is welcome, but we felt the additional presence was necessary because so many families have issues getting to the center, especially in the winter.”

The interfaith chapel project, just west of Edwards on Highway 6, involves clergy from the B’Nai Vail Congregation, the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, the Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran church, and the Presbyterian church in Vail. And so far, swift progress is being made.

Rabbi Deborah Rappaport called the project “brilliant on many levels” because it represents a true interfaith partnership.

“We’re basing it on what we have in Vail and Beaver Creek. In the past when I’ve worked in a shared space, we would pull down the cross and put up our star for our service, but here it’s a true interfaith chapel with no symbols,” said Rappaport.

“Anybody of any denomination or secular humanists who want a worship space can go there.”

Beyond offering a chapel for worship, the Edwards project hopes to offer valley residents a location to organize events. Rappaport cited a lack of community facilities in the area, and said the first priority is building classrooms and community meeting spaces, adding the second phase of construction would focus on creating a common space for worship.

Sigman also emphasized the importance of attracting local residents, saying “We’re hoping to make it into a community center as well as a worship space. There’s outdoor spaces for weddings and special events, and even a basketball court that gives the teenage population a place to go and meet.”

The potential for community outreach has project planners most excited.

“We all talk about tolerance and respect for diversity and those are the values our community tries to hold up,” said Rappaport. “But the way we live out the values of diversity is by having real relationships. It’s not something theoretical. It’s about sharing spaces, sharing projects and interacting.”

As it stands, the coalition of clergy hopes to finish the basics this summer, which includes building access roads to the site.

“We just got a P.U.D. (Planned Unit Development) last week, so now we’re able to build within the footprint that’s been approved,” said Sigman.

At this point ” assuming fundraising continues as expected ” the group expects to begin construction on the 18,000 square-foot chapel in early 2009. And looking even further down the road, Sigman sees a bright future: “Ten years from now we hope to become a focal point in the area for both families and visitors to congregate.”


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