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UMO to Dedicate New Center for Religious Studies

MOUNT OLIVE – On Sunday, March 25, at 3 PM the University of Mount Olive will dedicate the E. Lee Glover Center for Religious Studies. The Center, which is connected to Rodgers Chapel, was part of a comprehensive renovation and expansion project started in the spring of 2017. Located in the heart of campus, the E. Lee Glover Center for Religious Studies is named for one of the lead donors of the construction effort.

A 1959 Mount Olive Junior College graduate, Glover has generously supported his alma mater with his connections and financial gifts.  His loyalty to the University is because of his sincere regard and respect for the faculty and staff who assisted him and set him on the road to his chosen and successful profession as a teacher.

Over 260 donors have contributed more than $2 million to the chapel expansion project. Portraits and bronze plaques, bearing the names of many of those donors, will adorn the new spaces as reminders that transformed lives can transform lives.
“There are so many people to thank for this effort,” said Vice President for Institutional Advancement Teresa Hines.  “My heart is filled with gratitude for our friends and the Original Free Will Baptist Church.  They saw our need and they once again answered that need.”

According to Hines, the Chapel expansion was completely funded by private donations instead of student tuition or fees.  The new space encompasses 5,922 square feet, nearly doubling the original chapel footprint of 3,206 square feet. The Center was designed by Little Diversified Architectural Consulting and constructed by Daniels and Daniels Construction.  It houses two classrooms, a kitchenette and coffee bar, a multipurpose room, and ten offices with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing beautiful views of the campus. A prayer garden, dedicated to Jean F. Ackiss, who provided 50 years of service to the development of Church Support at UMO, features a tranquil place for meditation and reflection.

The Chapel has been reconfigured and new furnishings purchased to allow for more flexibility of worship and for hosting weddings and formal events.  One of the most impressive additions is the installation of an Allen Three Manual L-33 model organ, made possible by an endowment by Vernice G. Jones.  According to Dr. Franklin Gross, Chair of the Department of Music, the organ was chosen for its strong size, marvelous tone color, and stability.

Gross said, “The organ is expected to add musical depth and spiritual power to programs held in Rodgers Chapel.  Congregational singing will be enhanced, and new performance opportunities will be available to music students, faculty, and staff.

Dr. Neal Cox, Chair of the Department of Religion, said, “My sincere desire, and that of the Department of Religion as a whole, is that the expansion will better facilitate our ability to help lead the campus in spiritual and character formation. To God be the glory for the great things that He has done.”

All members of the Department of Religion and the Campus Chaplain have relocated to the Center, allowing for the expansion of the University’s religious studies program, and further denoting the literal and figurative cornerstone of the campus community.

Campus Chaplain Carla Williamson said, “We are filled with joy at being able to return to our special space of worship and the new space for sharing hospitality and creating community!  We will now have space to hold spiritual formative classes and workshops. There will be space for students to relax and have coffee and talk theology together. My office will be located just across the hall from the Chapel, so when students come to me in tears, we can walk over to the Chapel and pray together.  Soon God’s word will once again be proclaimed within the Chapel walls, music will fill the air, and prayers will rise from our souls as we return home to Rodgers Chapel.”

The public is invited to attend the dedication service.  For more information, contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 919-658-2502.

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit www.umo.edu.

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