A Community of Faiths: A Tradition of Service
Author: Vail Religious Foundation
When Vail was in its infancy, religious services were held in a variety of unlikely locations – lodges, bars and restaurants, to name a few. As the services became more requested, it was more and more difficult for visitors and locals to find their particular service.
In 1963, the Vail Religious Foundation was formed by a group of full- and part-time residents to explore he possibility of establishing a permanent structure to meet the worship needs of the growing community. The Vail Interfaith Chapel was the result of the foundation’s efforts.
The building of the Chapel was a community affair. Vail Associates, Inc. generously donated a beautiful site along Gore Creek, and a two-year fund drive collected monies while involving property owners in consultations about the Chapel’s design. Virtually all agreed that architecturally, the Chapel should reflect Vail’s alpine ambiance.
Ground was broken in September, 1968 and dedication of the Chapel took place to a “packed house” in November, 1969. Father Thomas Stone, pastor of St. patrick’s Roman Catholic Parish in Minturn and the Reverend Don Simonton of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church officiated, as they were the only two resident clergy at the time.
Over the years, the Chapel has grown in both scope of faiths and physical size. The Ministry Center Building, directly behind the Chapel, has allowed for more worship, office, and meeting space, and a caretaker’s apartment was added to the Chapel.
The interior of the Chapel has been kept as simple as possible. Because the view from the altar included such “God’s masterpieces” as mountains, trees, and the Gore Creek, stained glass windows were deemed unnecessary. As Jewish Sabbath, High Holiday, and Bar/Bat Mitzvah services are regularly held in the Chapel, the wood interior cross is removable and there is no cross on the steeple.
With the exceptions of campus and military chapels, the Vail Interfaith Chapel is one of the few community chapels in the country that is home to several worshiping faiths that use the same facility while maintaining their individual denominational affiliations and services.
This enduring and unique bond of cooperation between the six faith communities is a testimony to the concept that sharing works! The six worshiping faiths include B’Nai Vail, St. Patrick Catholic Church, Covenant Presbyterian, The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran, and Trinity Baptist Church.
The Chapel is owned and operated by the Vail Religious Foundation, which is incorporated as as Colorado non-profit corporation. The foundation is a representative body comprised of clergy and laity from each of the CHapel’s worship communities, as well as at-large members. Income is derived from a usage fee assessed each congregation based on the number of services each holds.
The Chapel maintains a strong presence in the Vail Valley and opens its doors to many events including weddings, vow renewals, memorials and other special services; including community, non-sectarian programs such as AA, Al-Anon, Snowboarders for Christ, to name a few. In addition to administering the Chapel, the Vail Religious Foundation provides aid to stranded travelers through offerings received at three ecumenical services: a community 4th of July services, Thanksgiving Service, and the mountaintop Easter sunrise service.