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Town proclaims Vail Interfaith Chapel a historic, cultural center

December 2, 2020, 8:09 am

The Town of Vail recently issued the following press release on an official proclamation on the Vail Interfaith Chapel:

The Town of Vail issued an official proclamation of the Vail Interfaith Chapel’s iconic place in the town’s history as a historic and cultural center at its Dec. 1 evening meeting.

“This is a generous and much-appreciated statement of support by the Town of Vail in support of our 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign,” said Pastor Tim Wilbanks, president of the Vail Religious Foundation. “We have always worked well with the Town of Vail and are thankful for the full weight of their support in the upcoming much-needed construction projects.”

The proclamation outlines the Vail Interfaith Chapel’s history and affirms its importance in the development of Vail as an actual town and place to live, versus just a ski resort, according to Mia Vlaar, the town’s economic development department director.  “The chapel is the reason we call ourselves a community,” she said. “Without it, Vail would not have a spiritual heart. It provides our residents and guests with a sense of community and is a place of healing and love, something not found in other resort areas.”

Six congregations of both Jewish and Christian faiths call the chapel home for regular worship services that serve approximately 34,000 residents and guests of the Vail Valley annually. The ministry building houses office space for these congregations and is also a year-round community center. Several non-religious entities serve approximately 15,000 people annually for daily use by support groups such as Alcoholic Anonymous, Bravo! Vail concerts in the summers, Vail Symposium lectures and presentations, and as an emergency shelter by the Vail Police Department.

“Much of the chapel’s structural systems are original – such as the boilers, windows and electrical system. The roof on both buildings still has cedar shakes, which 20 years ago was compliant with town code. Approximately $7 million in construction projects is needed to secure the structural integrity, increase storage, better utilize space, incorporate environmentally friendly solar panels and electric vehicle charges and re-landscaping in accordance with the Restore the Gore effort.

The Vail Religious Foundation was formed in 1965 by John Dobson, John Amato and Mrs. Keith Brown. Rod Slifer was among those who raised the funds to build the original chapel, which was finished in November 1969. “We negotiated with Vail Associates to grant the land on which the chapel is built to the Vail Religious Foundation,” said Slifer. “It was very much an all-hands-on-deck project, as was all of life in Vail back then. We all had our hands in the dirt to build the Chapel – it was such a community effort.” In 2000, the site’s first major renovation included replacing the roof and construction of the Ministry Building, which lies west of the chapel and houses office space for the six congregations. The lower level serves as the emergency shelter as needed by Vail PD, the meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups and serves as storage for the church the offices. “The Vail Interfaith Chapel is truly the spiritual heart of Vail,” stated Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger. “These buildings are of major importance in keeping our unique community together. Vail wouldn’t be the same without it. Even for the non-religious, the Vail Interfaith Chapel is an important location that serves deep purpose for everyone. It’s representative of the flip side of Vail – the one that isn’t about wealth but about community building and helping each other in hard times.”

For more information about how you can support the effort, call 970-476-3347 or visit www.vailchapel.com.

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