Giving Back

The Edwards Interfaith Chapel

Look up at the Edwards Interfaith Chapel and CommunityCenter from Route 6, and you will see an imposing façade with a huge central window, which recalls traditional church architecture, flanked by two more large expanses of glass. Not merely esthetic elements, these illuminate the entire building, making the restorative and stimulating beauty of the Eagle Valley part and
parcel of its interior. No need for stained glass here – just invite the outside in. This transparency reflects the Chapel’s organic relationship with its community and its determination to serve its changing needs.

The Chapel opened its doors in 2010, joining the Vail and Beaver Creek Interfaith Chapels in “providing spiritual nurture, worship and community service to residents and visitors of the
Vail Valley.” Forty years ago when the Vail Chapel began implementing that mission, Vail was not very far from its origins as an upstart ski town full of young people who had come to revel in
the powder and share the excitement of this new venture in the Rockies. Today, Vail and Beaver Creek are mature resorts. Edwards, which forty years ago was barely a gleam in a developer’s
eye, has grown exponentially. It is a diverse family community with a growing component of retirees and a significant Hispanic population.

The multi-denominational religious and spiritual Eagle Valley Religious Foundation manages the Chapel. Its goal is to “express the best religious tenets of tolerance and mutual respect present
in all our faith traditions and encourage even greater cooperation and affinity between our faiths, while inviting other faith traditions to join us.” The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration, B’nai Vail, Covenant Presbyterian, Mount of the Holy Cross Lutheran,
and Christ Church Anglican are the founding members. Other congregations include Iglesia Apostolica and Rios de Agua Viva Living Waters, making the Edwards Chapel the only one of the
Valley’s three interfaith chapels to include two Spanish-language Congregations.

The denominations share their resources to support a state-of-the-art facility, making it a true community center. Every Sunday, the Chapel’s Great Room is the home for seven services. And,
once a week the congregations take turns providing a free community supper, which also brings in churches that are not part of the Chapel structure.

And that is just the beginning. “I am happiest when every part of the building is being used,” says Jill Chalfant, the Foundation’s executive director. On any given day, she explains, class-
rooms can be full of students from Stone Creek Charter School, and the Great Room and commercial kitchen can be buzzing with preparations for an event. Board meetings or quiet gatherings of groups such as Grief Recovery Method can be taking place in the upper level library and lounge, with their natural light and soothing colors. Classrooms used by school children during the day become venues for adult classes at night. Community organizations, too numerous to list, use the Foundation’s beautifully designed and welcoming facilities.

The Great Room, with a capacity of 375, is the heart of the building. Its state-of-the art audio-visual equipment makes it a perfect space for large meetings, and a live feed to the adjoining Atrium allows it to expand capacity. During the summer, the room’s exceptional acoustics are perfect for Bravo!Vail community concerts. And, of course, there are wedding receptions,
bar and bat mitzvahs and quinceaneras, not to mention the BoyScouts’ Banquet and high school mixers.

Having read this, you probably think of the Edwards Chapel and Community Center as a finished building. Not so. Plans on the drawing board include a dedicated chapel space, a playground complex for children of all ages and a columbarium. As residents increasingly live out their lives in the Eagle Valley, this will provide a beautifully landscaped final resting place, with memorial benches where family and friends can sit and reflect in the glorious natural setting which originally brought their loved ones to the valley.