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Dedication of John Wesley Raley Chapel

August 13, 2004

This occasion today represents the distillation of the dreams and strivings of more than a quarter of a century. Dedication of the John Wesley Raley Chapel on the campus of Oklahoma Baptist University is indeed strong elixir for the spirit. It would be heady wine, indeed, if for a moment we forgot the purpose of the building and the men and women, living and dead, whose partnership vitalizes this hour of dedication.

The building we dedicate today is at once a shrine, a forum, a center of culture, and a place for congregational worship.

As a wayside shrine its lofty spire silhouetted on the skyline by day and sharply etched in white light by night says in simple eloquence that the sweep of this campus is skyward. Thus, it invites all who come this way across land or through the sky to think and to live toward God. From this forum leaders in all areas of intellectual and spiritual adventures shall challenge generations of students with their philosophies and their life conclusions. Through this great hall compelling harmonies from the compositions of the masters will echo into hearts sensitized and attuned to glorious music. And here we shall bow our heads in community worship faculty, students and friends.

Yes, this is a shrine, a forum, a center of culture, and a tabernacle of God.

Just what is this structure? Of what is it composed? I spoke of dreams and strivings. You now see those dreams fulfilled in majestic proportions of graceful designs in steel and stone, dramatized in beautiful art windows. You will be interested in the background development, some of the details of the construction process, and the craftsmen who made the dream come true.

The basic design of the Chapel was developed more than twenty years ago in terms of the stated purpose of a building which would serve as a worship and fine arts center. In 1944 the first public appeal was made in an official address to the Convention and while it has been kept constantly before the Baptists of Oklahoma, it was 1957 before the appeal could be repeated with any hope of acceptance. It was February 1959 when ground was broken and the adventure of construction was on. You know the story from there and here the Chapel stands. Twenty stories high, 200 feet fromt eh ground level to the lighted spire, it stretches east to west 248 feet and north to south 188 feet. With 61,692 square feet of usable space, it is 4,000 feet larger than a football field. Two hundred ninety-one (291) tons of structural steel and 61 tons, or 36-1/2 miles, of reinforcing steel support the masonry which is composed of 2,500,000 brick and stone equivalent, while 2,000 yards of concrete form the foundation and provide the floor space.

One mounts the steps of the main entrance to the foyer on Texas granite. He crosses the portico through graceful columns of Indiana limestone to pause for a moment in the lobby of escalette marble from the Pyrenees Mountains of South Eastern France.

The auditorium in which you are now seated bears many distinguishing features. If you will let your eyes sweep from right to left, you will notice that the brick on the staircases march in phalanx into the distance. Follow the wall and you see that they fall into a normal pattern beyond the staircases. On either side of the stage the design changes again and they sweep upward as Roman brick, giving the effect of soaring columns. The shell above the stage reflects art in design and bears an important accoustical function as well. Of course, drama is caught up in the art windows. You saw the seal as you entered the foyer and then paused to look backward at its beauty. You know see the great window which is the Oklahoma Window, giving in beautiful and sweeping proportions the story of the forty-sixth State. This window is a gift of a distinguished Oklahoma citizen who began his career as an artisan in art glass and later developed a thriving glazing business in Henryetta, Oklahoma. I refer to Harry D. Ellis.

Other windows on the EAST SIDE are:

Name Honoree Guarantor

1. Worship Mrs. Louise Pritchard Mrs. Louise Pritchard

2. Baptist History Rev. J. Grover Scales FBC, Shawnee & Friends

3. Music & Fine Arts Grace Temple Pearson Mrs. W.E. Price

4. Literature Mrs. Hallie Conlee Mrs. P.B. Conlee (Hallie)

5. Business & Ind. Mr. & Mrs. C.M. Murphy Mr. & Mrs. C.M. Murphy

While the windows on the WEST SIDE are:

1. Theology Mr. & Mrs. R.A. Young Mr. & Mrs. R.A. Young

2. World Missions Oklahoma WMU Oklahoma WMU

3. Art & Architecture Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Irons Lee Mr. & Mrs. Paul K. Nance

4. History & Gov’t Judge W.R. Wallace Justice John A. Brett

5. Science & Medicine Class of 1957 Class of 1957

These memorials and others throughout the building will be given special honors during the dedication of the Andrew Potter Auditorium at the next session of the Baptist General Convenciton.