In case you haven’t noticed, there’s quite a bit of change going on at Southern Nazarene University (SNU). There’s been construction occurring all over campus for a long while now, but more specifically, big changes are happening right in between the Ludwig Religion Building and the Centennial Plaza– there stands a large fenced-off area with a banner exclaiming that a prayer garden is coming soon.
In fact, “soon” may be just around the corner, as Vice President of Business and Finance, Dr. Scott Strawn, stated, “Originally, the plan was to have it ready by the start of the school year, but weather and planning challenges kept that from happening. So now we hope to have it finished by Homecoming.” After completion, it will be a place for students and staff to have the opportunity for prayer and fellowship in an outdoor setting. It is said to include a mixture of landscaping and hardscaping that will be inviting and will immerse people into a place of serenity. It will also serve as another gathering place for students, which there can never be too much of.
However, when passing the bare site where the prayer garden is soon to reside, it’s quite difficult to not notice what used to stand there. Not too long ago, the H.L. Prayer Chapel sat in this area, with the infamous statue of Jesus just a few feet away. This surely begs the question: What happened? According to Dr. Strawn, “The flood last summer instigated the decision of tearing down the H.L. Chapel–we didn’t want to just tear it down. But also, it had the lowest quantitative score of all of the buildings on campus, so its lifetime was up.”
While the H.L. Prayer Chapel had a gloomy fate, things are looking up for the statue of Jesus. It will serve a new purpose as an essential component in the prayer garden. In addition to giving new life to a now stripped piece of land, the prayer garden will also, and possibly most importantly, promote prayer on campus.
Dr. Stephen G. Green, a professor in the Theology Department, said, “I believe prayer is an essential part of what it means to be in a relationship with God.” Talking with God through prayer draws us closer to Him, and having a space like a prayer garden is perfect for exactly that.
Overall, the prayer garden will hopefully provide a reposeful space for the students and faculty of SNU to meet for prayer or a time of peaceful contemplation. Be prepared to experience the tranquility of the garden for yourself and welcome back the statue of Jesus around the beginning of November.
(Photo courtesy of Kevin Stark)