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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 8, 2012

It takes a parish to build a chapel

GUILDERLAND — After 48 years, the parishioners of St. Boniface Episcopal Church are beginning to think of their building as permanent.

Reverend Steven Scherck said that, when the church on Western Avenue was founded in 1964, the only structure built was intended to be a parish hall. The actual church would come later, when the parish grew in size, he said.

The church, however, was never built, and the congregation continued to use the parish hall for its services while waiting.

“Certain things haven’t been done because there has always been a sense of waiting for another building,” said Scherck.

Last year, one parishioner, Charles Giglio, suggested using the small overflow seating area, which used to be a kitchenette, as a columbarium. A columbarium is used for storing cremated remains, similar to a mausoleum. More and more churches have been incorporating the columbariums, said Scherck.

“We researched it and decided to do that, and as it was coming together, we decided to make a whole separate chapel in that area,” the pastor said.

It took only one year to build the chapel.

“I think one of the remarkable things about it is that the whole parish came together around the project,” said Scherck.

Parishioner Tracy Smith, owner of Smith Contracting, in Delanson, designed and built some of the columbarium and chapel. Another parishioner, Gene Brousseau, built parts of the chapel, and his wife, Linna, made the linens for the altar. The stained glass was commissioned from a man in Burnt Hills.

“I think it is amazing that all of the work got done locally,” the reverend said.

Since the chapel has been completed, Scherck said, it is being used for services every Wednesday.

“When we have our noon services, we only get about five to 15 people, which is perfect for the little chapel,” he said. “It’s a nice, intimate setting for the small services, whereas, if we had that few people in the nave, they would feel lost.”

Once the columbarium is being used, Scherck said he believes the chapel will take on even more significance.

“It will be nice for loved ones to worship there,” he said.

Since the parishioners worked together to draw up plans for the chapel, creativity has been sparked.

“It is generating other ideas for things we could do, a lot of ideas are beginning to pop,” said Scherck.

Some of the ideas include installing stained glass in other locations, new linens, and cabinetry.

“We’re really shifting in thought toward the idea of finishing and making it a permanent church rather than transitionary,” Sherck concluded. “The whole process has been very optimistic and life-giving.”

— By Anne Hayden

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