EL PASO, Texas - “What a wonderful building this is,” said Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, commanding general of the 1st Armored Division, at the dedication ceremony for the 1st Armored Division Chapel, Feb. 23, 2012, in building 11272, located next to the Centennial Conference Center on East Fort Bliss.
The dedication celebrated the completion of the 38,000 square-foot facility, to recognize key individuals involved in the project and to officially mark the chapel's opening.
“Through all the budget cuts, shortages of funds, and movement of personnel, it is a blessing to have this chapel here as a spiritual foundation for our soldiers,” said Pittard. “After nearly a year of construction and preparation, the Chapel is now available to be a place to spiritual development.”
“We plan to use this complex as a place of worship and spiritual resiliency,” said Col. Peter Baktis, Senior Chaplain Team Bliss.
The congregation has relocated from the facility at Sage Hall, on main Fort Bliss, to increase the attendance by half. The new facility has space to accommodate more personnel and the different services they wish to attend.
The new complex has the utilization for over 1,100 personnel with flexible seating: a capacity of 600 people in the sanctuary and 500 people in the multipurpose hall. The chapel complex has many accommodations: a sanctuary fellowship hall, a baptistery, a sacristy, multipurpose classrooms, a nursery, toddlers classrooms, a choir rehearsal room, a fully furnished kitchen, and clerical rooms.
A resource center in the chapel, centrally located in the complex, operates as a center for research, reading, and personal spiritual development.
The chapel complex is slated to house three services weekly to include: The Gospel service hosted by Chaplain Maj. Artie Maxwell 1st AD, the Chapel Next service hosted by Chaplin Maj. Sungjean P. Kim, 1st Brigade 1st Armored Division, and the Catholic service hosted by Maj. Edward C. Martin, chaplain, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
For soldiers looking for a more casual service, the Chapel Next has a contemporary approach to worship. Chaplain Kim held the inaugural service in room 162, Feb. 26, 2012 here. The Navigators, a military discipleship group, will host services in the community that include fellowship with song, recreational activities, food, and praise.
To support the grand space, eight state-of-the-art screens are available though-out the service halls to integrate audio-visual presentations during ceremonies, concerts and weekly programmed services.
“For those who have spiritual backgrounds, the Chapel gives them a place, opportunity, and support system to exercise those beliefs,” said Maxwell, a chaplain who assists with soldiers looking for encouragement in their spiritual principles.
Seminars are slated throughout the year to assist the community with employment, wellness, and education.
The chapel staff and members provide support to strengthen the Army in areas such as suicide prevention, single parent workshops, and marriage strengthening workshops.
“The chaplain staff helps the units build morale, while strengthening soldiers’ moral compass,” said Maxwell. “As Fort Bliss grows there’s potential to support the soldiers here, I am exited to be part of that support and growth.”