BY JAMES HARPER
It has been nearly 100 years since White Hall was built on Bethune-Cookman’s campus.
White Hall, named for Thomas H. White Sewing Machine Company and longtime friend of school founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, was built in 1916 and contains the Gertrude Hotchiss Heyn Memorial Chapel.
Heyn, who was the daughter of Eli Hubbell Hotchkiss, an industrialist, left a large bequest to the school when she died in 1960 and the chapel was named in her memory.
The Rev. Kevin James, pastor of Palm Coast United Methodist Church, was the featured speaker last Sunday at a worship and dedication service. It culminated a week of events for students, faculty, staff and the community as the doors of Heyn Chapel, opened after being closed for renovations for more than a year.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said James, a Bethune-Cookman University alumnus who also chairs the Nomination and Governance Committee on the Board of Trustees.
He was B-CU’s chaplain from 1994 to 1998 while serving his home church as pastor of Stewart Memorial United Methodist in Daytona Beach.
James recounted his time as a chaplain to a packed chapel. He recalled how they had microphones in the past that weren’t dependable.
“When we had services, I didn’t know if the lights would work,” James said to laughter.
New roof, new chimes
“This is a joyous occasion,” James added, commenting on the university spending approximately $700,000 for a new roof, lighting, sound and video system and new chimes that can be heard on campus throughout the day.
“Celebrating our heritage with joy” was the message he delivered to the crowd.
“People are walking around with no joy at all. The joy of the Lord is our strength,” he continued.
“It takes 72 muscles to frown, but only 14 muscles to smile,” James said.
Weekly service coming
President Edison Jackson, who James recently had a hand in picking as the school’s new permanent president, plans in the fall to have a required weekly chapel service during the school week, primarily for freshmen.
Bethune-Cookman had weekly chapel until more than six years ago, a tradition started by Bethune.
‘Traps will be set’
“Dr. Jackson walked into a period of chaos,” James said of the new president who was first picked as interim president a year ago to replace retiring president Trudie Kibbe Reed, who had been on the job seven years. Jackson was named the school’s permanent president in March.
James asked the congregation to pray for Jackson because “traps will be set” as he continues to build on the vision of the university’s founder.
“God made something out of a garbage dump,” Jackson said to the audience as he reminded them the grounds they are now walking on used to be the city’s dumpsite before it was given to Bethune.
Added Jackson, “I can feel God’s presence.’’