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When religious services resume Dec. 24 at the JBLM Lewis Main Chapel after 13 months of renovations, installation chaplain Col. Bart Physioc hopes parishioners will feel as though theyre coming home.
Though services start again on Christmas Eve, a ribbon cutting today at 11 a.m. announces the reopening of the 78-year-old church and the adjacent annex building, an addition that was built about 50 years ago.
Crews have replaced electrical and sewage systems inside and installed an irrigation system outside, two of a host of improvements.
This chapel has meant something to a lot of people, he said.
Physioc said the project started as a modest renovation of 25 classrooms in the annex building, but the project grew quickly as more issues developed during the repairs. By completion of construction of three new elevators to make both buildings handicapped accessible, the total cost of improvements is about $5.5 million. The chapel now features new bathrooms in both buidings and a new kitchen in the annex building. Each classroom was fitted with wall-mounted flat-screen televisions, automatic lighting, new furniture and new carpeting.
The condition of the chapel sanctuary remains mostly original, Physioc said, with crews completing a few cosmetic changes.
The flooring was replaced in the annexs fellowship hall, a large area commonly used for socializing after church services.
A portion of the fellowship hall will be transformed into Cafe Capella, a new coffee and snack stand run by Physioc and a host of volunteers. The establishment will be a donation-only cafe where patrons pay what they want. All donations will fund Operation Helping Hand, a program that provides food vouchers for JBLM families in need. The cafe will be open from 10 a.m to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, beginning in January 2013.
Physioc said groups on JBLM are welcome to use the ample classroom space now in the updated annex building. We are using it a lot with regards to religious services on Sundays, but other groups can use the facility as well, Physioc said.
Both Catholic Mass and Protestant services will return to the Lewis Main chapel on Christmas Eve. The Protestant worship service begins at 7 p.m. and the Catholic mass begins at midnight.
After the new year, Catholic Mass will begin at 9 a.m. on Sundays, followed at 10:30 a.m. by Sunday school in the annex. Protestant worship services will begin Dec. 30 at 10:30 a.m., and will be preceded by Sunday school at 9 a.m. in the annex.
Also on Sundays, a new Lets Talk Marriage forum will meet at 9 a.m., hosted by Physioc and his wife, Dawn, who have been married for 35 years. The idea is to provide a casual environment for married couples or couples thinking about getting married to discuss issues related to marriage and relationships, Physioc said. The group is open to anyone.
For more information about religious services at the Lewis Main Chapel or to make annex building reservations, contact the JBLM chaplains office at 967-3121 or 967-3718.