Volume 77
Number 3

Turning Point

12 Hours on Unit 21

Outreach in Action

War of the Winds

A Sense of Place

Emory University

Association of Emory Alumni

Current News and Events

Emory Report



Sports Updates




















































REVEREND SUSAN HENRY-CROWE woke at 3 o’clock one recent morning, worried about lights. She is now standing in the Cannon Chapel sanctuary under the very fixture that disturbed her slumber.

The bar of high-tech, gleaming white lights hangs level with a balcony tier, and Henry-Crowe, dean of the chapel and religious life, fears they are too visible against the sanctuary’s golden skylights and vaulted oak ceiling.

“The sanctuary has such wonderful light during the day. But at night, people couldn’t even read the words in their hymnals. Maybe if we paint them gray,” she murmurs, squinting up at the ceiling. “Or tan . . . ”

Cannon Chapel, which observed its twentieth anniversary this September, invites such concern over detail. Designed by architect Paul Rudolph (whose father, Keener, was a member of Candler’s first graduating class in 1915), the contemporary building is intended to be a transcendent, awe-inspiring space, organic in form, flexible in function.

“There aren’t many truly sacred spaces left. Everybody co-opted that term until it has become generic,” says Henry-Crowe, who for eleven years has guided the religious life of Emory’s campus, first as University chaplain then, since 1998, as dean of the chapel. “Our desire is for this to be a protected, intimate spot for worship, meditation, and reflection.”

Cannon Chapel, named for long-time Candler professor and dean Bishop William R. Cannon, was conceived in 1975, when the theology school purchased 220,000 books from the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and needed a place to keep them. Emory President James T. Laney, then dean of the theology school, suggested converting the one-room Durham Chapel, built in 1915, into a library, and building a larger chapel, one more suited to Emory’s expanding theology program and the University’s increasingly diverse community.

Over the next several years, the University and the Candler School of Theology raised $4.8 million, with the help of contributions from individual donors and churches. The new chapel on the Quadrangle, between Bishops Hall and the Psychology Building, would be a training ground for student ministers, a place for University worship, a ceremonial space for weddings and funerals, and a cultural arts center for performances, recitals, and plays.

“It’s symbolically significant to have the University’s chapel on the Quadrangle, the historic heart of the campus,” says University Secretary Gary S. Hauk. “Religious life is thus anchored among the academic activities of Emory College as well as the theology school. And the space has been a wonderful place for the arts as well as religious life. Given the vibrancy of the world’s religions as source for the arts, this seems entirely appropriate.”

Cannon Chapel is the center of religious observances on campus for a variety of denominations and religious groups. About fifteen hundred students attend official worship services each month. “Emory claims grounding in a faith tradition, and religious and spiritual life remains a foundational root of the University,” Henry-Crowe says. “And it is appreciated.”

In any given week the chapel’s sanctuary, which seats 480, might be host to an ecumenical worship service, a Roman Catholic mass, an Emory Zen Buddhist group meditation, and a Jewish High Holy Days service. “We have diversity within diversity,” Henry-Crowe says of the thirty religious groups represented on Emory’s Interfaith Council. “The genius of the building is that it is built to be an interfaith space. No symbols are immovable.”

This commitment to diversity was tested in 1997, when on the basis of the University’s Wesleyan roots, an Oxford College employee was denied use of a campus chapel at Oxford for a same-sex union ceremony. Henry-Crowe and Oxford Chaplain Sammy Clark, both United Methodist ministers, were asked to establish guidelines for the use of University chapels.

Their decision, approved by Emory’s Board of Trustees, was that recognized religious groups on campus have the “right to practice their own rites and ordinances.” The University chapels, Henry-Crowe and Clark wrote, “exist to serve the religious and spiritual aims of the whole community . . . [and] reflect the dynamic plurality of a university setting.” So while many denominations don’t officially recognize same-sex unions, a commitment ceremony was recently performed in Cannon Chapel by the Unitarian Universalist Church, which does.

Dean Russell E. Richey, of the Candler School of Theology, says he has come to treasure Cannon Chapel as an expressive, resilient space that “readily accommodates a rich Anglican rite one day, a joyous African-American service the next, and the moving United Methodist eucharist the following. Candler’s sharing of Cannon with the University has worked well.”–M.J.L.




© 2001 Emory University