ASU's Danforth Chapel celebrates 60 years, recalls first wedding and religious service
Danforth Chapel, the non-denominational church on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, will celebrate 60 years of weddings and religious services on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008.
William Danforth, founder of Ralston Purina company, funded 24 chapels on university campuses throughout the United States more than 60 years ago. ASU was selected as one of the 24 and received $5,000 from Danforth to build the chapel.
The university community is holding an open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to revive memories from locals and alum who have appreciated the services provided by Danforth Chapel through the years. The open house will be hosted by ASU Office of Student Life and Council of Religious Advisors.
The event’s guest speakers include:
Jean Reaves-Clark, the chapel’s first organist
Colonel Billie Stephens, groom of the first marriage in the chapel
Genie Hopper Zavaleta, ’47-48 graduate of William Danforth’s "Danny-Grad" Fellowship program
WHAT: ASU’s Danforth Chapel Celebrates 60 Years
WHEN: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
WHERE: Danforth Chapel on Cady Mall, ASU Tempe campus
ASU graduates Billie Stephens and Dorothy McKenzie-Stephens were the first to marry on June 2, 1948 in the Danforth Chapel.
The chapel was built in 1947 and dedicated on February 26, 1948 while Arizona State was still a teacher college.
The chapel’s cross has a tumultuous history. It was never a requirement of the chapel to have a cross, but some workers put it up because of a miscommunication in the design plans. Just before the chapel’s dedication, a student sawed off the cross. It was later found and placed back on the chapel. The ACLU later filed a suit in 1990 to remove the cross and a court order granted removal. The university has honored the court ever since and the cross is now located in the vault of the university archives in Hayden Library. The cross will be on display during the week of the 60th anniversary.
The chapel has hosted an average of 15 weddings a year since 2005. Documents indicate that up to 50 weddings a year used to take place in earlier years.
Up to 25 religious groups of varying faiths use the chapel for services. Most are ASU student organizatioins.
William Danforth died on Christmas Eve in 1955 at the age of 85 after 19 of his chapels had been built. Five others were in the planning stages at the time.
There was a requirement by William Danforth that Heinrich Hofmann's painting of "Christ in the Garden" be hung in each chapel. Each chapel also has an inscription hanging in the chapel with the following language:"Dedicated to the worship of God with the prayer that here in the communion with the highest those who enter may acquire the spiritual power to aspire nobly, adventure daringly, serve humbly."
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