By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer
The Baylor Religious Hour Choir (BRH) was informed by Institutional Events on Tuesday that the Chapel they have called home for decades will be closed and refitted beginning next week for use as temporary office spaces. In response, BRH gathered with alumni for a Thursday evening special sendoff service for Miller Chapel.
Miller Chapel was dedicated in 1954 following the construction of the Tidwell Bible Building, which it is housed in. The renovation closes the book on more than six decades of history with events ranging from worship services to weddings.
BRH president Abby Bennett, a senior social work major from Waco, has been a part of BRH since her freshman year. She said the service was meant to provide one last chance to bid farewell to the historic chapel and celebrate its legacy.
“Tonight, we’re just hosting a service to say goodbye to a place that means a lot to our organization,” Bennett said. “We’ve invited alumni, friends, supporters and anyone else who loves Miller Chapel as much as we do just to kind of say goodbye before they take the pews out next week.”
Keller sophomore Annessa Robbins, a sophomore choral music education major said Miller Chapel holds a special place in the lives of many people.
“Some of the alumni coming in [have gotten] married in this space, some of them have met the person they married, some of them have met their best friends, some of them have had life-changing experiences in this room, including some current members of BRH,” Robbins said. “It is sad, but we’re celebrating what we have experienced in the room.”
Miller Chapel means a lot to Robbins, not only as a place to worship, but because of the history her family has there. She sang in the chapel with her sister before coming to Baylor, and it was one of her first performances.
“I have always looked forward to being in [Miller Chapel] because both my brother and sister have come through BRH and I have been in the room before,” Robbins said.
BRH was founded in 1948 and according to Bennett, BRH and Miller Chapel have been intertwined for their entire history.
“BRH has been rehearsing in Miller Chapel since the 1970s… but we’ve been involved in Miller Chapel since the 1940s,” Bennett said. “It’s a really big part our organization’s history and there’s not really another organization in campus that’s met in the exact same spot for as many years as we have, so it’s really important.”
Parker Bowen graduated with a degree in choral music education in 2018. Bowen was in BRH while at Baylor, and said some of his most impactful experiences at Baylor happened in Miller Chapel.
“I think God has this space in a lot of really impactful ways through [BRH,]” Bowen said. “It’s a place that has a lot of meaning to me and for this group. Miller is definitely a piece of Baylor history and to see it go away is very sad.”
According to Bennett, BRH knew renovations were coming for Miller Chapel as part of the Give Light campaign, but the timing was a surprise. The group practiced twice a week in Miller, Bennett described the timing of the announcement as “really inconvenient,” but is not “pointing fingers at anyone in the university.”
Bennett also mentioned people like University Chaplain Dean of Spiritual Life Dr. Burt Burleson and Director of Student Activities Matt Burchett who have supported BRH through the transition out of Miller Chapel.
“Burt Burleson and Matt Burchett have been incredible to work with through all of this,” Bennett said. “BRH is really grateful for them and their involvement with us, and also their involvement with us figuring out what our next steps are.”
According to Bennett, BRH does not yet have a new space for practice.