One of the largest gifts in Valparaiso University history will ensure the preservation of the Chapel of the Resurrection and enable opportunities for significant enhancement to this enduring symbol of faith.
The $15 million gift from the Rev. Mark and Kathy Helge will support the most critical preservation issues facing the chapel while adding programmatic space and technology to position the chapel for its future.
The Helges have a history of giving to Valparaiso University, having also provided the lead gift for the construction of the new Harre Union building, which opened to campus in January 2009. They now have turned their philanthropic focus to the chapel, where the Helges met as students at Valpo.
“Worshipping and working in the chapel was an integral part of our education at Valpo,” Mark Helge said. “Both Kathy and I were members of the chapel staff our senior year.”
The Helges are members of the 1971 Valparaiso University graduating class.
“We are forever grateful to the Helges for their generous support of Valparaiso University and its ongoing mission to prepare students to lead and serve in their churches, their communities, and their professions,” Valparaiso University President Mark A. Heckler said. “We must make the chapel more than the architectural and physical center of campus. We must seek to ensure the programmatic efforts of the chapel remain an integral part of the overall student and community Valpo experience. The Helge family is helping to make that possible.”
With these improvements, the clear nave windows will be preserved, and an addition of about 9,000 square feet will be constructed to provide meeting and office spaces to aid in an expanded role for campus ministries in leadership and service activities, church vocations, church and congregational relations, and interfaith and interreligious dialogue.
Technology that will allow for enhanced and flexible forms of presentation, performance, and worship will be installed. The gift offers an opportunity to provide Americans with Disabilities Act compliance that will significantly expand access to the chapel as well as provide greater convenience for the chapel community.
Additional components of the project address needed improvements to the heating system and alterations to existing plumbing features in order to accommodate the addition. The heating components to be added will significantly improve the comfort level of worshipers and other guests, making it a more inviting space year round.
“We are pleased and grateful to be able to provide this gift,” Mark Helge said. “It is our hope and prayer that the services and programs within the chapel will benefit the students, faculty and the community by providing ministry and care for all.”
The University celebrated the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Chapel of the Resurrection during the 2009-2010 academic year. The chapel was dedicated on Sept. 27, 1959, and renamed the Chapel of the Resurrection in 1969.
“For more than 50 years, the chapel has stood as a visible reminder of our Lutheran character and mission as a University under the cross,” Heckler said. “Our vision for this new venture in faith is that the chapel will expand in its importance and influence on campus, to serve future generations of students and members of our greater community as part of our extraordinary Lutheran heritage and legacy.”