Church of the Week: Taylor University Prayer Chapel

While visiting and teaching at Taylor University last week, I spent some time in the Memorial Prayer Chapel on the Taylor University campus. The chapel was built to honor the memories of five members of the Taylor community who died in a traffic accident in 2006 along with each student, faculty, and staff member whose lives ended while they were associated with the University. The chapel was dedicated on April 26, 2008, the two-year anniversary of the tragic semitrailer-van crash on I-69 that claimed the lives of Taylor students Laurel Erb, Brad Larson, Betsy Smith and Laura Van Ryn, and staff member Monica Felver. The five died when the Taylor van in which they were riding was struck by a semitrailer rig near the 66-mile marker of I-69’s southbound lane. The crash drew international attention after it was discovered that Van Ryn, who died in the crash, and fellow student Whitney Cerak, a survivor, were misidentified while Cerak was still recovering from her injuries.

Cerak later recovered and returned to Taylor. The Van Ryn and Cerak families co-authored a bestselling book and made appearances on network television programs. Cerak graduated with her class in 2009.

A small chapel on one side is nicely furnished.

The cross in the room's decor is incorporated into a stone design outside the room, visible through the glass behind the podium.

Side chapels provide more intimate settings for private prayer, and are well used by the students.

From the open-air center of the structure one can look in four directions to the campus and beyond. It's a lovely, prominently-placed setting for prayer and contemplation in the midst of a busy campus.

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