Area church brings new life to tiny chapel

(Above) Derek Crawford (left) and Dawn and David Bill were the main volunteers that worked on the chapel project.  -Reporter photo by Chris Barragy

by Michelle Watson

The Guardian Angel Roadside Chapel has once again taken on new life.  The little chapel was built by Jack and Wanda Kennedy in 1991.  One year later, it was destroyed by fire. Now, Zion Lutheran Church has taken the tiny chapel under its wing.

“Jack and Wanda are longtime members of Zion,” said Derek Crawford, youth pastor at Zion Lutheran Church.  “The Kennedy’s donated it to the church about a year and a half ago.  I promised Jack that we would do our best to take care of his chapel.”

Jack purchased a piece of land near Interstate 35 to construct the building in the early 1990s.  His idea inspired others to donate their time and talents to help him realize his dream.  Originally the chapel contained six pews purchased from a disbanded church.  The windows and the oak altar rail were from the former Zion Lutheran Church.

The chapel was named Guardian Angel Roadside Chapel because of an event that took place in the life of Jack’s aunt, Marguerite Williams, many years ago.  Williams felt the presence of a guardian angel in a dangerous situation she once faced and contended she could live her life without fear for her personal safety because a guardian angel was protecting her.  She passed away at the age of 99 in 1991.

A midnight fire destroyed the chapel in 1992.  Kennedy said in an article published in the Mirror-Reporter in 1992, that it was impossible to estimate the dollars lost due to the amount of volunteer help and the historic nature of the windows and interior objects, but he thought the loss would exceed $40,000.

Even at that time, Kennedy had plans to rebuild the tiny chapel.  Using stained glass he found in a barn and an altar rail that was originally part of the choir rail at the former Zion church the church was rebuilt.  He also replicated an altar from one of Zion’s previous altars.

Over the years, the chapel fell into disrepair.

The main volunteers working on the project have been Crawford and David and Dawn Bill.  Don Pedelty also helps with ground maintenance.  Another 20 people have also volunteered for the project.  In total, there have been about 250 volunteer

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