Dunning Memorial Chapel is Alma College’s most beloved and iconic facility.
Constructed in 1940, Dunning Memorial Chapel is the quintessential icon of Alma College. The red brick facility, with its octagonal white steeple topped by a 12-foot bronze Greek cross, is named in honor of Dr. John Wirt Dunning (class of 1904), the only Alma College alumnus to become president of the college.
The chapel sanctuary has seating for 600. The basement has served a variety of uses through the years. Originally, it was the college’s student union. It now houses the chaplain’s office, meeting rooms, and dressing areas for wedding parties.
As one of the most treasured and well used spaces on campus, the facility hosts numerous weddings per year, weekly worship services, multiple weekly Bible studies, and daily choir rehearsals. It also accommodates a multitude of student and community events throughout the year, including performing arts recitals, guest speakers, movie screenings, and special programs.
Campus spiritual life is thriving. Our needs are evolving.
Campus spiritual life is booming under the leadership of Alma’s chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Andrew Pomerville. The needs of the institution and its students are much different in 2020 than they were in previous decades.
While Alma remains deeply proud of its rich Presbyterian heritage, the college’s student body has become much more religiously diverse, and the chapel requires enhancements to accommodate students from diverse faith traditions.
Given its age and extensive use, the chapel has fallen into disrepair and requires modernization and cosmetic fixes. The structure still has pews that are screwed into the floors and a layout that is no longer set up to accommodate students. For example, the basement is broken down into small administrative spaces and conference rooms that aren’t well used or conducive to student activities.
Improving the usability and flexibility of the chapel would enable the facility to become the valuable, distinctive instrument of campus spiritual life Alma College and its students need. This project will bring the chapel into the 21st century.