A good-size crowd gathered at Featherstone last Sunday for an event welcoming the campus’ latest addition — a small chapel, recently relocated from the property of retired pastor John Schule to the beautiful six-acre grounds of Featherstone.
“It was more of a celebration of the chapel finding a new home than a memorial or a consecration, or even a dedication,” says Dr. Michael Jacobs, who was instrumental in having the chapel transplanted to its new permanent home.
The small structure was constructed more or less singlehandedly by Schule from his own design, based on country chapels that he had visited in Europe during his travels. It took him many years to construct, and the design became more extensive over time as friends and community members chipped in with donations of windows, flooring, and other building supplies.
“He has used it for family weddings and other events,” says Schule’s daughter, Lizzy. “He’s always decorated it at Christmastime, and had carolers in the chapel.” Schule also used the chapel as a place for meditation and writing. “He’s found a lot of spiritual solace in that chapel,” says Lizzy Schule. “It’s been a way for him to continue his faith without having to be in a church.”
Schule, who served as pastor for the Federated Church in Edgartown for 25 years, has a strong connection to the arts. “When he was in high school, he had to choose between going to art school and going to seminary,” says Lizzy Schule, who teaches drawing and painting at Featherstone. “He got accepted to RISD and got a scholarship, but he decided to pursue his other direction.”
Jacobs was instrumental in getting the chapel relocated, a process that took two years from planning to the final installation in April. He notes that a lot of people helped out, including Steve Ewing, who was responsible for the actual move from Edgartown, and Donaroma’s, which provided all of the landscaping.
Last Sunday, after a handful of short speeches from various members of the community, Schule had a few words to add. “I don’t usually give speeches unless I’m paid to,” he joked before going on to offer thanks to all of the people who helped fulfill his longtime dream of finding a permanent home for the chapel.
“It was truly a community effort,” says Jacobs. “Everyone just fully embraced the project without reservations.”
The chapel will serve a variety of functions. “It will be a place of serenity and creative inspiration and mindfulness,” says Featherstone director Ann Smith. “We hope to use it for creative writing classes, and maybe yoga. I think it adds to the whole creative, spiritual aspect to Featherstone. This organization is all about family, and the chapel has brought a new family to Featherstone.”