Sycamore Shoals Hospital dedicates new chapel

By Julie Fann
Star staff

Mountain States Health Alliance officials, hospital administrators, volunteers and guests attended the dedication of a new chapel inside Sycamore Shoals Hospital on Friday. Approximately 54 people crowded into the room which Nancy Gastineau, hospital Social Services coordinator, called "a hallowed place."
   "I believe it's always good to start a new church with standing room only. This has been a project that has been the dream of many of the staff here at Sycamore Shoals for a very, very long time. I am just happy that I could be a part of it, to work to make it a reality," Scott Williams, CEO of Mountain States Health Alliance, said. Williams thanked not only the staff but the volunteers for their countless hours of effort in the chapel project.
   Rev. Ron Owens, hospital chaplain for the past eight years, performed the dedication of the chapel, which included a Call to Worship given by Nancy Gastineau, a dedication statement, and a closing prayer. The hospital also planned a Good Friday service following a reception.
   "A hospital is not just for working with physical ailments; a human is much more than the sum of their parts. There's the soul that's also involved. Here at Sycamore Shoals, we want to be recognized not just for our care of the body, but we also want to be recognized for our care of the spirit," Williams said following the dedication.
   Williams extended a thank you to the pastoral care staff of Mountain States Health Alliance, marketing directors, and the architect, Tom Weems, who was unable to attend the dedication service. Williams also praised Ed Wheeler, creator of the stained glass window inlaid in the chapel door. "It is an exceptional piece of art work that will be with us for a long, long time," he said.
   Wheeler explained that coming up with an idea for the window was difficult. He decided to focus on the life of Christ -- His birth, His death, and His final reign as King of Kings. "From crèche, to cross, to King," he said of the window that shows a picture of a manger on the bottom, a cross in the center, and a jeweled crown at the top. Wheeler said that the glass used inside the crown came out of an old garbage bin and is probably about 100 years old.
   Lola McCranie, president of the Elizabethton Auxiliary Board, thanked auxiliary board members for their efforts. The board purchased all of the furnishings and decor for the chapel by holding several fund-raising events including a book sale and a jewelry sale. The new chapel is located in what was once part of the old hospital emergency department. The new chapel now has 16 trained chaplains instead of the eight volunteers who served prior to the project.
   Opal Manning donated the family Bible inside the chapel. She received the Bible in 1943 upon her retirement from Bemberg Corporation.