Many people connected to the Manning Memorial Chapel were on hand Oct. 6 for celebrations about the 50th anniversary. Among them were, from left, Rev. John Boyd, retired chaplain Roger Prentice, Rev. Jesse Zink and chaplain Tim McFarland. - Wendy Elliott, www.kingscountynews.ca
By Wendy Elliott
For 50 years, Acadia University’s Manning Memorial Chapel has been a place of refuge. It certainly was for Jesse Zink on Sept. 11, 2001.
Now an Anglican priest, he recalled hearing about the World Trade Centre attack. A swirl of emotions began, prompting Zink to go to the chapel. He left after the daily service, feeling calmer and more peaceful.
The chapel, he said, “is a place where people can turn when they do not know what else to do with what they are experiencing and encountering in life. What I will always remember about Sept. 11 is that praying in this chapel was the one thing that did not feel out of the ordinary on that extraordinary day.”
Zink, who preached at the anniversary service on Oct. 6, also recalled, beyond services and sermons, acting in Passion Plays at Easter.
He once played the role of Jesus and died on the cross.
“I remember how Mary Magdalene threw herself at the foot of the cross – as the script required.” The action prompted the cross to sway precariously.
“I hung on for dear life, reminding myself that the Easter story – not to mention the Christian faith – would be a little bit different if Jesus had suddenly hopped of the cross shortly after his death.”
A look back
Acadia University was founded in 1838 by Baptist congregations. The chapel, one of most beautiful buildings on campus, was opened in 1963 and dedicated to the late Fred C. Manning. It is open for services every day of the week.
The 20-stop Casavant organ was dedicated to the university’s war dead. The 28.5-inch swinging bell, cast in England, can be heard two miles away. The spire, with a six-foot cross that is covered with gold leaf, towers 198 feet above sea level.
In 1990, a campaign for $1 million began to endow the University Chaplaincy, which included programs, personnel and chapel maintenance. The chaplaincy, supported through gifts, has supported thousands of Acadia students and staff members.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary, the chaplaincy is raising funds to equip the chapel with audio and visual systems in the sanctuary and the well-utilized chapel hall. This upgrade will enable services to be recorded, broadcast on the web, live-streamed, or formatted as podcasts. It will also allow the chapel hall to become a state of the art lecture and presentation venue.
A special banquet was followed by a worship service on Oct. 6.
About Rev. Jesse Zink
Zink is a former chapel assistant and a 2004 graduate of Acadia. He is the author of Grace at the Garbage Dump: Making Sense of Mission in the Twenty-First Century. The book draws on his years as a missionary in a shantytown community in South Africa. He has another book, Backpacking Through the Anglican Communion: A Search for Unity, coming out in January.
He currently serves as assistant chaplain at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England, where he is also working on a Ph.D. about the history of the church in South Sudan. In addition to being a missionary, he has also been an ambulance driver, DJ and reporter.