In just a few years, the residents at Lanier Village Estates raised the money, had the space professionally designed and now are almost at completion of their new chapel.
Prior to the new chapel, the 50-member congregation, met in the auditorium for Sunday service, but that space just didn’t meet their needs, said the Rev. Richard Evans.
"We are glad to have a smaller space that is dedicated to spiritual life," Evans said. "It is a legacy that the residents will leave for the future."
The chapel is not a new congregation but just an extension of the home churches of residents and for others that are not able to attend services outside of Lanier Village Estates.
The McGill-Scarbrough Memorial Chapel should be open for Sunday afternoon services beginning in June. The new chapel that has a central location on the property will seat between 50 and 75 people and will be surrounded by a new garden and landscaping.
The interior of the chapel will have exposed wood beams on the ceilings and many windows to let in natural light along with a very open feel.
"This is not a creation of another church," said Bert Dillon, co-chair of the Campaign Cabinet. "It’s meant to be a facility that makes it possible for people that can’t go to a church of their choice will have the chance to worship in a church-like atmosphere."
Currently services are aired on Sundays through the in-house resident TV network.
Lanier Village Estates, has been in Gainesville in 1999, is an ACTS Retirement-Life Community which is the largest not-for-profit owner, operator and developer of continuing care retirement communities in the United States.
Added Alice Eckhardt, executive director of Lanier Village Estates, "Our policy with ACTS to encourage to have a chapel but it must be paid for by the residents."
Funds began with one large donation and then residents in the Campaign Cabinet began a push for complete the project.
"That was the role we played was more or less organizing residents here to solicit funds," Dillon said.
The residents at ACTS are very active in the chapel on the property, they have Bible study throughout the week and have several choir groups that perform during services.
Evans said serving as a pastor and chaplain at Lanier Village Estates is a little different than at a typical congregation and that’s what he likes about it.
"I have a passion for this kind of work," said Evans, who went to seminary and studied clinical pastoral education. "It trains you in the essence of what chaplaincy is all about ... they work with people of any religion and touch people where they are. You serve many roles here, some people latch onto you as their pastor, other people you help them stay connected to the local church."
Evans said one of his biggest roles is to encourage residents to stay active at their
"One of my roles here, for example, a lot of folks are tied into the local church, most of them are in fact, and so I see my responsibility is an extension of the churches ministry," he said.
Which also is why anyone from the community is welcome to attend the nondenominational Vespers 4 p.m. service on Sundays.
"Many people in addition to going to their regular church in the morning come to Vespers in the afternoon," said Dillon, a member at First Presbyterian in Gainesville. "I think the principal purpose is that it will serve is for Vespers, for memorial services ... and the occasional wedding."
The services also have a more casual feel and are geared toward issues in the resident’s lives.
"The Vespers are rather simplified and catered to the problems of people in the advanced age," Dillon said. "For hymns and so forth we don’t generally stand because it’s a little difficult for some people. It’s geared both in structure and in format to accommodate the type of residents that we have here. More casual than a traditional service ... but in general it’s sort of a come-as-you-are setup."