Father Brooks Keith: Vail Chapel is a multi-faceted sanctuary for all
Vail Interfaith Chapel
Spectacular orchestral music lifts the vaulted wooden ceiling. An intimate moment takes place Gore Creek-side as a younger (and sometime not-exactly-younger) couple sit snuggled together to mark an anniversary, or schedule one. There is incisive, provocative fora on super-intellectual subjects with attendees like me occasionally nodding my head thoughtfully while furtively web searching vocabulary on my hidden cell phone. Exhausted, overwrought stranded travelers morph into overnight refugees seeking a warm bed and safe shelter when Interstate 70 is closed or wildfires threaten. Individuals, couples and families walk into the sanctuary and sit down … for awhile, reflecting upon private thoughts which inevitably arise when confronted with the majesty of our Rocky Mountains. Dear friends and complete strangers move regularly in and out seeking recovery, personal solace and honest support. Where in our resort town do all these moments happen quite regularly, you wonder?
Welcome to your community spiritual anchor, the welcoming and peaceable civic foundation we know as the Vail Interfaith Chapel, or more commonly, the Chapel. For over a quarter century, I have been privileged to witness personally all these special moments of transformation, and so many more. While we all enjoy world class … well, just about everything, actually, where can one go to receive personalized attention to very acute physical, spiritual and emotional needs? Yes, we have a library, hospital, schools, gardens, amphitheater, skating rink, restaurants, art, among other outstanding amenities. But we also have a dedicated interfaith community offering all of us a facility to see to the entire human person, the only public spiritual space in Vail and an enthusiastic community partner.
Yes, yes, we have member Jewish and Christian congregations which conduct all manner of life cycle celebrations for our members and some of us for many who have never before stepped through our front door. But the Vail Chapel is far more than village church. It serves as a spiritual and emotional MASH unit operating in the forward theater of full body contact resort living, where the highs are stratospheric and the lows are devastating. We proudly partner with caring organizations like Vail Health, various Anonymous gatherings and Alpine Counseling to provide multiple meetings indoors and outside. We love our summer Bravo! Vail Music Festival free (yes, that’s correct, you read that correctly) music concerts and our Vail Symposium forums (cell phone for big words optional unless you are a cleric). We are very proud of our governmental and emergency functions working alongside the Vail Police Department, Town of Vail and Salvation Army.
Perhaps most of all, we love to provide a warm and safe respite from all those resort dramatic highs and lows for anyone wishing to take a quiet stroll and sit beside the comforting Gore Creek or reflect peacefully inside the Chapel sanctuary. And the reason I share all of this now? After a whirlwind 50 years of daily operation, our beloved Vail Chapel needs some refurbishment and upgrading to meet the needs of a 21st century resort community. We have supported similar efforts over these past years for other nonprofit organizations in Vail and celebrate their success. Now it is the Chapel’s turn to ask for your generous financial support as we raise funds to make sure the next time that couple sits beside the creek mulling their future; or that person in recovery seeks a supportive gathering; or that stranded traveler has the hot shower and bed they so badly need; or that concert (and they are free) and forum gathers, the Vail Chapel stands ready to receive them. The next 50 years begins right now! For more information, a tour of our facility and resources to make a contribution, please see vailchapel.com. And thank you for your support!
The Reverend Brooks Keith is the reactor and senior pastor for the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration at the Vail Interfaith Chapel.