Epworth Villa Celebrates 20 years at Brill Chapel

This isn’t just a Sunday chapel. This is an everyday chapel for people that live here. When I walk by this chapel, I just seem to be uplifted. This chapel is a highlight in our lives and provides a season of contentment in our retirement years. -Rev. Marilyn Williams, Chair, Religious Life Committee

The 20th Anniversary Celebration of Brill Chapel at Epworth Villa was celebrated on November 10, 2022. A special vespers service was held that afternoon followed by a reception in the Redbud Room at Epworth Villa. Rev. Laura Glover, who is lovingly known as Pastor Laura in the Epworth community, led the recommitment service. Glover was joined by Rev. Dwight Magnus, Associate Chaplain. In attendance were residents, board members, employees, friends of Epworth Villa, and previous chaplains.

Rev. Margaret North, Rev. Burrell McNaught, and Rev. Gene Spillman — all Epworth Villa residents and choir members — opened the service with the Call to Worship, Declaration of Purpose, and Prayer.

Ron Kelly, Epworth Villa CEO, greeted the congregation and shared a greeting and welcome and was followed by Dr. Steve Ford, Epworth Villa Board Member. Ford emotionally shared how his mother had lived at Epworth Villa for 11 years and passed away on a Sunday morning in 2018. He went on to share how his family hadn’t arrived yet after his mother passed, so he decided to go to Sunday School in Brill Chapel. Ford said that he was caught off guard by a wave of emotion. He joked that he did not remember the lesson that day, but emphatically remembered the care, the love, and the compassion that he felt in that very room – Brill Chapel — as one of his mother’s friends took him by the hand and showered him with love. Ford closed by saying that he was looking forward to more opportunities where love and compassion would be shared in Brill Chapel and throughout the Epworth community.

Resident and Chair of the Religious Life Committee, Rev. Marilyn Williams, shared how robust and vital the religious life is at Epworth Villa and how it is continuing to grow to meet the needs of Epworth’s diverse and ecumenical community. She also shared many of the wonderful new additions to Brill Chapel that have happened in just the last year due to the generosity of residents. Those additions include a new prayer garden adjacent to the Chapel, new screens for worship along with improved audio/visual equipment, beautiful new paraments, new choir robes, and a spectacular new Steinway grand piano. Epworth Villa residents Rev. Helen Taylor, Rev. Jimette McLean, and Rev. Jarrell Tyson also participated in the rededication with the Affirmation of Faith and a reading of the Word.

In this Very Room was beautifully performed by the Villa Voices under the direction of Choir Director Ginger Howl. This song was featured 20 years ago when Brill chapel was opened. Howl and Glover emphasized the significance of including the song in the service. Accompanying the choir were musicians Wes Howl, Rosalyn Kalmar, and Meg Hebblethwaite – all residents of Epworth Villa.

Also bringing greetings and a message on behalf of Bishop Jimmy Nunn and the OK Annual Conference was Rev. Derrek Belase. Belase shared how at one time he was scheduled to preach at a Vespers service in Brill Chapel. As he walked in the doors of Brill Chapel, he received an emergency call that his mother-in-law’s heart had stopped, and she was undergoing emergency surgery, so he needed to get back to the hospital immediately. Belase goes on to say that he handed off his sermon to Lisa Crone, then Chaplain, and said, “The people in that room are the only people in my life that know the depth of prayer that my family needs in this moment.” Belase tearfully addressed and pointed at the congregation and said “You all. You all prayed for someone that you didn’t even know…that day…. Just this community of people that I didn’t even know, who were interceding – as the choir just sang – In this Very Room.”  He continued garnering laughter from the congregation, “My mother-in-law is alive. Not in the metaphorical, pastoral sense. She’s alive! She comes to my house. She plays with her granddaughters. She doesn’t leave on schedule because, in this very room, you all prayed!” Belase concluded, “And every day, I am thankful for you for what you did. Because I know that you do it over and over again. For 20 years this has been the space for the gathering of the faithful to come and be the people of God.”

The Villa Voices sang Come Build a Church followed by a prayer of rededication led by resident Rev. Larry Becker followed by the Benediction given by Rev. Laura Glover. She prayed that each person was recommitted to go forth into the world, redeemed and a blessing to all that they meet. With outstretched arms, Glover concluded with “God loves you, and there is nothing you can do about it. But, with God’s love, there is nothing that you and all of us together cannot do.”