By Chris Flood

DOVER — Dover Air Force Base celebrated the opening of its $8.7 million Chapel Center with a ribbon cutting on Monday.

“This is a remarkable occasion,” said Maj. Gen. Howard Stendahl, Air Force chief of chaplains.

Maj. Gen. Stendahl, senior pastor for more than 680,000 active- duty, Guard, Reserve, and civilian forces serving in the U.S. States and over­seas, who leads an Air Force Chap­lain Corps of approximately 2,000 chaplains and chaplain assistants, said places like the new chapel in Dover lay the spiritual foundation for the country’s warriors.

“It allows them to defend the na­tion with good conscience,” he said.

The new building, at 19,343 square feet, can accommodate 1,100 people. It contains a sanctuary, an audio/vi­sual control round, a cry room, cha­pel administration offices, six class­rooms and a fellowship hall. The classrooms will serve as a place for groups of different faiths to meet, meaning the chapel will be used ev­ery day of the week.

The chapel also contains an “All Faith Room” to provide a space to meet a broad range of religious tra­ditions, including Muslim, Jewesh, Buddhist, and Earth-based reli­gions.

“I’ve been to a lot of ground break­ings on the base of the years. This one is very special,” said Sen. Thom­as R. Carper, D-Del.

Sen. Carper said a military base is supposed to be a place that can pro­vide anything a person needs, even where one can get sustenance of the soul.

“Here airmen will be able to find help with life’s challenges,” he said.

From the outside the building looks like the rest of the buildings on base — a nondescript tan building with a brown metal roof.

But from the inside, the interior speaks to a place with a mission of a higher calling. Windows line the top of the sanctuary, filling the room with an abundance of natural light without drowning out the enormous stained glass windows full of blues, reds and yellows that face the west.

Col . Richard Moore Jr., command­er of the 436th Airlift Wing, spoke to the importance of having a place on base where a person can examine their spirituality.

“Spiritual fitness is a central func­tion to an airmen’s resiliency,” he said.

Rep. John Carney, D-Del., said the chapel was going to serve as “a bridge to the divine” for the men and women on base.

In addition to regular chapel ser­vices, one-third of the facility will serve as a reception center for Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations to receive families of the dead in the event of a mass casualty.

Col. John Devillier, AFMAO com­mander, said their collective mis­sion was to take care of the military men and women returning to Dover through a dignified transfer after having paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“This is for the families. I pray we never have to use the chapel annex,” he said. “If we have something ter­rible has happened.”

The new facility was built on the site of the base’s original cha­pel, which had been constructed in 1956 for $300,000. The money for the project came from the Military Con­struction Program’s Fiscal Year 2010 budget.   



Dover Air Force Base officially opened the doors to its new Chapel Center during a rib­bon cutting on Monday. The $8.7 million project stands on the ground of the old chapel. Cutting the ribbon, from left, are John Bergersen, project manager from Gardiner & Gardiner; Rep. John Carney, D-Del.; Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del.; 436th Airlift Wing commander Col. Richard Moore Jr.; AFMOA commander Col. John Devillier; and Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia district representative Lt. Col. Chris Becking.