Saunders Irving Chapel
The Saunders Irving Chapel is truly an icon of the Sussex region and the campus of Kingswood University. Its beautiful structure, built in the shape of a Celtic cross, is clearly visible as one approaches the town from any of the three main highways leading to Saint John, Fredericton, or Moncton, New Brunswick.
This chapel is specifically designed to architecturally express God’s great work of salvation and quintessentially the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross.
The main entrance of the chapel facing east over the campus commons is at the base of a 30-foot entrance cross. The granite lintel above the cross is inscribed with the words from John 3:16, “For God so loved the world,” a bold declaration of God’s great love for us expressed in the gift of His one and only Son.
Inside, wooden pillars and trusses are joined together by a major center beam to form a large cross at the apex of the open ceiling which reaches to the outside walls at every point of the cross. All who come enter at the foot of the cross and worship under the shadow of the cross. In keeping with the Maritime context, the trusses and center beam also reflect the inverted ribs and keel of a ship.
The footprint of Saunders Irving Chapel is a Celtic cross; other design features include the following:
- At a height of 116 feet, the Steeple stands as a powerful symbol of the mission of Kingswood and God’s call to the Church – to showcase the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. The spire, crowned by a nine-foot cross, is lifted high above the surrounding town of Sussex.
- Praying Hands at the north and south entrance transepts. These 32-inch carved granite hands include the reference from Isaiah 56:7 and Luke 19:46 which calls the Church to be a “house of prayer for all nations.”
- The main entrance includes a 30-foot Entrance Cross. The granite lintel above this cross is inscribed with the words, “God So Loved the World,” a bold declaration of God’s great love for us expressed in the gift of his one and only Son upon the Cross.
- A granite Dove Stone above the main chapel entrance has these words from Christ around its perimeter: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses . . . unto the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
- The wooden Pillars and Trusses of the interior are joined together by a major center beam to form a large cross at the apex of the ceiling. Many of the pillars are named in honour of “pillars of the Church,” men and women whose lives stand symbolically as pillars in support of the work of the Church.
- The curved pews, made of red oak, are inset with a carving of the vine and branches, inviting everyone who comes to worship, to also abide in Christ and allow His life and grace to flow naturally through them.
- Seven Prayer Altars encircle the platform providing a special place to seek God on bended knee. These were given in honour of men and women whose lives were marked by prayer.
Under the leadership of Dr. David S. Medders who served as president from 1990 to 2009, construction began in the fall of 2005 and was completed in 2008.