Vail Interfaith Chapel launches $10 million capital campaign
Funds are needed for repairs, renovations to the 51-year-old facility
Pastor Tim Wilbanks, president of the Vail Religious Foundation, has announced the launch of a $10 million 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign.
Wilbanks, who is also the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, stated that the money will fund $6 to $7 million in construction renovations to the 51-year-old chapel building and the 20-year-old ministry building. The majority of the balance will be deposited into the reserve fund to ensure the building is maintained properly in the future.
Repairs, renovations needed
“Some of our equipment is original — such as the two of our three boilers and the electrical system. The roof on both buildings still has cedar shakes, which 20 years ago was compliant with town code. It is now not allowed and needs to be replaced as soon as possible,” Wilbanks said.
Priority projects include a full roof replacement with solar panels, replacing the parking lot and entry steps including snowmelt for safety, replacing the electrical systems, HVAC, windows, elevator, making the altar compliant for the Americans with Disability Act and exterior stucco work.
Additional projects include upgrading audiovisual equipment and capacity for live streaming, interior spaces including original cabinetry, lighting and storage in the sacristy, refinishing woodwork in the chapel and recovering/refinishing the pews, kitchen upgrades to replace old equipment, converting inefficiently used space into storage, replacing old landscaping irrigation, improving the creekside patio space for weddings and memorials, and creating a prayer garden next to the ministry building.
Six congregations use the chapel regularly for worship services that annually serve approximately 34,000 residents and guests of Eagle County. Congregations are B’nai Vail, Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church of Minturn, Mountain Community Baptist Church, and the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration.
The buildings are used as office space for these congregations, but also serve as a year-round community center. Several non-religious entities including Alcoholic Anonymous, Bravo! Vail concerts in the summers, Vail Symposium lectures and presentations, use the building. The chapel is also an emergency shelter when Interstate 70 closes.
“We cannot do our work without the use of the chapel’s lower meeting room for our counseling sessions each week,” Kristen Trygg of Alpine Springs Counseling said. “By donating the space, it allowed us to provide life-changing therapies for Eagle County’s 5th Judicial District clients.”
Approximately 15,000 people use the Vail Interfaith Chapel buildings for non-religious meetings and events every year.
It’s a revenue-generator
Approximately 45 weddings are held annually at the Vail Interfaith Chapel, averaging 100 to 120 attendees per wedding. About 95% are destination events. This generates approximately $15 million in revenue to local businesses, hotels, restaurants, and town of Vail tax revenue.
“A typical destination Catholic wedding at the Vail Interfaith Chapel generates a minimum of approximately 600 room nights,” Wilbanks said. “Receptions average $50,000 alone — and this doesn’t include (other) dining, nightlife, rehearsal dinners, the ceremony, and more.”
A real community effort
The Vail Religious Foundation was formed in 1965 by John Dobson, John Amato and Mrs. Keith Brown. Longtime local Rod Slifer was among those who raised the funds to build the original chapel, which was finished in November, 1969.
“We negotiated with Vail Associates to grant the land on which the chapel is built to the Vail Religious Foundation,” Slifer said. “It was very much an all-hands-on-deck project, as was all of life in Vail back then. We all had our hands in the dirt to build the chapel — it was such a community effort.”
In 2000, the site’s first major renovation included replacing the roof and construction of the ministry building, which lies west of the chapel and houses office space for the six congregations. The lower level serves as the emergency shelter as needed, the meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups, and serves as storage for the church offices.
Fast forward to 2020: The Vail Religious Foundation board of directors consists of representatives from all six congregations as well as lay congregation members and five at-large community members. Seven additional nonprofits use the buildings on a regular basis.
“The Vail Interfaith Chapel is truly the spiritual heart of Vail,” Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said. “These buildings are of major importance in keeping our unique community together. Vail wouldn’t the same without it. Even for the non-religious, the Vail Interfaith Chapel is an important location that serves deep purpose for everyone. It’s representative of the flip side of Vail – the one that isn’t about wealth but about community building and helping each other in hard times.”
Donations coming in
FirstBank of Vail is first in line to donate, having offered to match up to $10,000 in cash donations. Anyone can donate to this match campaign, which ends October 31. Donate at http://www.vailchapel.com or make checks payable to the Vail Religious Foundation, noting the 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign, and mail to 19 Vail Road, Vail, 81657.
“We at FirstBank of Vail felt it important that our entire community be a part of this effort, which goes back to the roots of the Vail Interfaith Chapel,” FirstBank of Vail Vice President Joel Barndt said. “It was built by the whole community, is a great resource for all of us, and we all need to be part of keeping these treasured buildings intact for generations to come.”
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