Richfield chapel provided more than worship

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Richfield Living photo
The Jane Morgan Harris Chapel on the grounds of Richfield Living was demolished June 20 to make way for new residential and nursing areas.

Chapel demolished; last service Feb. 17

Weddings, funerals, parties and celebrations of 100-year-old residents. A place that made a difference in people’s lives. For almost 40 years, hundreds of meaningful events were held in the Jane Morgan Harris Chapel on the Richfield Living Campus.

That ended Sunday, Feb. 17, when the last service was held in the chapel. It was torn down last week, on June 20, to make way for a new skilled and long-term care building that replaces the current Recovery and Care Center.

This marks the first phase of construction as Richfield grows to offer new independent living options and a town center that will include multiple dining options, a new wellness center, and spa services.

George Child, President and Chief Executive Officer, noted that “Our chaplaincy program has a distinguished past and we look forward to honoring that history while creating an exciting new place for worship in our town center.”

The final service in the chapel was followed by an old-fashioned potluck lunch provided for residents, team members, and guests. Attendees were invited to write their recollections with a gold pen on a memory board.

Chaplain Gary Kingery resumed services on March 3 in the Regency Room at Ridgecrest Apartments on campus, until a new chapel is built inside the planned Town Center. “Touches from the existing chapel will be incorporated into the new space including the organ and the chapel’s stained glass that will be repaired and re-installed, said Senior Director of Marketing and Philanthropy Lisa Clause.

Kingery talked about what the chapel and its weekly services have meant to people. “The different events that happened to people’s lives have been celebrated, there was camaraderie and friendships built. This was the last church they had in many cases, and it meant something to them,” said Kingery, who has been chaplain since 2014. He took over from the Rev. Tom Clay, who was chaplain for 32 years until he retired at age 93.

Kingery praised Richfield for providing chaplain services for residents and families, to visit them, comfort them and provide emotional support.

“There are not many retirement homes that provide a full-time chaplain, but Richfield does,” he said. He values volunteers who provide music and getting residents to and from their rooms for the services.

“It’s all the volunteers over the years that make the chapel successful,” he explained. Kingery pointed out volunteer Candy Thomas who led the Sunshine Choir. “She would put choir robes on eight or nine residents. They may not sound like what you think a choir would, but it was beautiful.”

About 120 people attended services in person in his first years, Kingery said. Now many watch and listen to services televised on Channel 62 on Richfield’s cable system.

In addition to residents in Recovery and Care Center, the chapel provided “a place for rehab, assisted living, and independent living people to worship,” Kingery said. “It gave them encouragement while calling Richfield home.”

The chapel was named for nurse Jane Morgan Harris who was credited for her determination to ensure the community had options for care, beginning with health services for women. Richfield has grown to over 600 residents and provides employment for more than 500 employees. To learn more about Richfield Living’s history and offerings, visit our website at RichfieldLiving.com.