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    Chapel renovations create a respite for Soldiers deployed to Poland

    Chapel renovations create a respite for Soldiers deployed to Poland

    Photo By Spc. Christina Westover | Soldiers with the 49th Movement Control Battalion out of Fort Hood, Texas, and the...... read more read more

    Poznan, Poland -- Surrounded by beautiful cathedrals and churches dating back to the 10th century, the Mission Command Element’s post chapel is not a Polish church, but was once a tucked away storage room in one of the buildings on a Polish Army base here, previously used as a cantina.

    The room was filled with outdated furniture, the crushed velvet wallpaper peeling from the walls, and the floor covered with grime. Even though the room had been used many times over the years, it seemed as if it was overlooked and ignored.

    Today there is a stark difference in the appearance of the chapel; the peeling paint was removed, storage areas were cleaned out, and the walls freshly painted to reveal the forgotten room’s hidden potential.

    Soldiers from all different backgrounds and spiritual beliefs with the 49th Movement Control Battalion out of Fort Hood, Texas, and the 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kansas, worked together to renovate the MCE’s chapel.

    The two units spent more than 70 hours over the span of four months lending a helping hand to clean, sand off old wallpaper, and paint the walls to improve the sanctuary.

    “[It gave] the volunteer[s] a constructive outlet for their energy [to] feel good about contributing to God’s work,” said Capt. Darrell Burriss, the outgoing MCE Chaplain. “Whether or not they’re inclined to come to the chapel, they still feel like they’re giving back to the community and helping other Soldiers.”

    The chapel reveal was held during a candlelight vigil service for the Christmas holiday.

    “When we had the candlelight service, it felt like everything we’ve done had culminated up to that point,” said Capt. Courtney Merchant, chaplain for the 49th Movement Control Battalion. “When the Soldiers walked in, it was phenomenal. The looks of awe on their faces and the smiles made a difference. I feel like it instilled a sense of pride in the Soldiers [who] got to be a part of it.”

    The chapel services and religious studies have been offered in the same chapel for many rotations before in the same location, however, the Soldiers from the MCE and the 49th MCB took the initiative to improve the condition of the chapel and made the renovation possible.

    “The chapel did not represent what a chapel should,” said Burriss. “It looked like an afterthought and [it] needed to be changed. With the new paint, furniture, and worship materials, it finally feels like a sacred space.”

    Since the chapel’s renovation, to maximize the use of the space, the room has been used to facilitate other events, such as briefings and command training.

    “The intent was to create a place that people feel comfortable in [and] can come in throughout the work day to relax and have some quiet time away from the office,” said Sgt. Demowah Quoiyan, a religious affairs specialist with the 49th MCB. “I feel like we did that and more. We, as a unit ministry team, are here to support everyone, regardless of religious preference. We’re here to support Soldiers throughout the deployment by [any] means necessary.”

    After the renovation process, attendance has more than doubled since the holiday season, Burriss said.

    “I went to the candlelight service and I was in awe with how well everything came together,” said Capt. Daniel McCall, a logistics officer assigned to the MCE. “I think it’s less about the physical meeting place and more about the people coming together but it’s nice to have a chapel that makes you feel comfortable and at home. Being able to attend church service and bible study is my favorite part of the week.”

    The renovation created a better sense of community, strengthened bonds between Soldiers, contributed to their spiritual well-being, and gave them a little piece of home while they’re deployed.

    “It wasn’t just the 49th or just the MCE,” said Sgt. Tracie Sanders-Jackson, a religious affairs specialist with the MCE. “It was both of us, working together to get it done. I think it helped build cohesion between the units but also between the Soldiers that were able to help.”

    Although it was a long process, the unit ministry team says that it is not finished. They will continue to improve on the chapel and try to maintain the cleanliness and quality of the chapel.

    “We put a lot of effort and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into making this happen,” said Sanders-Jackson. “To see the major differences gives us a lot of pride.”



    Date Taken: 01.15.2019
    Date Posted: 01.17.2019 09:31
    Story ID: 307052
    Location: POZNAN, PL 
    Hometown: FORT HOOD, TX, US
    Hometown: FORT RILEY, KS, US

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    Chapel renovations create a respite for Soldiers deployed to Poland