By Ron VandenBoom
Four years of planning will finally pay off when construction begins next summer on a new chapel at Northern Montana Care Center.
Creation of a separate chapel at the facility has been the dream of many of the Care Center residents, as well as the Havre Ministerial Association and the Chapel Fund Committee since construction of the Care Center was completed in 1997.
"We saw a need for it as soon as they moved in," said Ila McClenahan, pastoral care coordinator and activities director at the Care Center.
McClenahan said that when the Care Center was designed, a multi-purpose room, known as the Ponderosa Room, was set up to convert into a chapel as needed. Tables would have to be moved out of the way, and the pulpit and other religious items were kept in a closet and pulled out for religious services.
McClenahan said many people thought the facility needed a separate and permanent chapel, a place where residents and families could meditate and pray and where services could be held without having to move furniture.
Northern Montana Health Care officials including David Henry, president and CEO of Northern Montana Health Care, and Lori Henderson, administrator of Northern Montana Care Center met with the Ministerial Association and the members of the Chapel Fund Committee Tuesday to finalize plans on a new chapel.
The estimated cost of the new chapel is more than $312,000.
We are really in support of the chapel and always have been," Henderson said. "We really want to see this happen."
Henderson said NMHC is providing the architects to do the chapel design.
Henry referred to the project as "wonderful."
"We're excited that they (the Ministerial Association) are able to take on this project," Henry said. "It's a wonderful project and it will be a wonderful addition to the Care Center."
The chapel will be located just off the southwestHospice wing of the Care Center and will extend into the south parking lot, providing an outside entrance for visitors and family, and for funerals. An inside entrance will also be available through what is now office space in the Hospice Unit.
The chapel will have seating for about 80 with a raised platform and altar on the south wall. It is expected to provide a spectacular view of the Bear Paw Mountains, contain a vaulted ceiling and have plenty of room for stained glass windows and skylights. Bathroom facilities will also be available in the chapel.
Erling Lynnes, whose mother, Evelyn, used to be a resident of the Care Center and president of the Residents' Council, is pleased to hear that the chapel will finally be built.
"They always wanted a place where they could go, where it was quiet and wheelchair accessible something off to the side," Lynnes said.
Lynnes said that all the memorial money collect after his mother died was given to the chapel fund and added that his mother would be really happy to know the chapel is going to be built.
McClenahan said a chapel fund committee has been established and they will be searching for grants and other funding sources. She said she expects to see the committee complete printing of a brochure that will detail the project. The brochure will then be handed out to churches and residents in Havre and along the Hi-Line as part of the fund-raising effort.
Pastor Steve Flatau, chairman for the Havre Ministerial Association, is continuing the chapel effort started by the former chairman, the Rev. Kenn Green, who is relocating to Spokane, Wash.
"There's no doubt about the need for it," Flatau said this morning. "It's a way the residents can participate more consistently in spiritual activities, especially funerals."
Anyone wanting to contribute to the fund-raising effort can address their contributions to the Havre Ministerial Association Chapel Fund Committee, C/O Steve Flatau, Havre Assembly of God Church, P.O. Box 296, Havre, Mt. 59501.
McClenahan said anyone wishing to know more about the chapel can contact her at the Care Center and make arrangements for her to address their group or organization about the project.
The public is also invited to attend the next meeting of the committee at 1 p.m., July 17, at the Care Center.