September 9, 2009 Edition

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WBC dedicates Manley Chapel

Steve Manley addresses the dedication crowd as Dr. Jerol Swaim, Williams president, looks on.
Submitted Photo
The Williams Singers intoned the words of Psalm 122, "I was glad when they said unto me, 'Let us go into the house of the Lord,'" as Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge officially dedicated Manley Chapel on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

The towering chapel was greeted by a full house of students, faculty and other well-wishers, who gathered on the first day of WBC's fall semester. The dedication ceremony coincided with the college's annual opening convocation.

Steve Manley, the CEO of Universal Asset Management, made a symbolic presentation of the chapel on behalf of his family. It was Manley who originally envisioned the iconic structure on the Williams campus and provided the largest gift toward the project.

Manley said that his resources were a tool used by God to build the structure. "This is not my chapel; this chapel is for you," he told the WBC students. "This is my Father's house!"

Manley's brother, David, also spoke on behalf of the Manley family. David Manley is president of the Southern Baptist Education Center in Southaven, Miss.

The dedication address was delivered by Dr. Emil Turner, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. Taking his cue from Barnabas in chapter four of Acts, Turner called for the chapel's use to be defined by "sensitivity, support and submission." Williams is owned and operated by the ABSC.

Williams President Dr. Jerol Swaim lauded the worshipful setting, noting, "Although I am keenly aware we do not have to be in a specific place to worship our Lord, I am also aware that the setting can certainly affect and enhance our worship. This beautiful place of worship is for the purpose of helping to enhance our spiritual development and our walk with the Lord."

Manley Chapel bears a classic chapel design, but it is large enough to seat the entire Williams student body for weekly chapel services, as well as allowing for growth of the Christian liberal arts college. The building will hold some 600 people.

At 54 feet tall, the chapel can be seen from all around the campus and surrounding areas. Large windows along all four sides of the building feature prominently in its design, as well as stacked stone and exposed wooden beams. A skylight along the roof's ridge also draws eyes upward from inside the building.

The chapel was designed by Brackett-Krennerich & Associates Architects and built by Tate General Contractors. Both firms are headquartered in Jonesboro. Total cost of the Manley Chapel project was over $3 million.

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