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Fort Monroe chapel decommissioned
By Kate Wiltrout
HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY.com) - The Sunday service at Chapel of the Centurion on Fort Monroe began like any other. For 153 years, the sound of hymns carried through the decorated stained glass windows. For 153 years, prayer lifted from folded hands to the rafters and beyond.
However, the service is not like the others. The decommissioning service officially takes the chapel out of the Army's hands.
"Someone said when they heard the alter bible close it was like closing the lid of a coffin. In some respects it is the end of a chapter of this military congregation, but also on the other end it's a celebration," said Chaplain Major General Douglas Carver, US Army Chief of Chaplains.
It is something to celebrate. Fort Monroe's Chapel of the Centurion is the oldest wooden chapel in continuous Army service since 1858.
No one better understands the chapel's significance to its congregation than Nettie Lamb. She has worked there for 43 years.
"Been through many wars here. Vietnam, Des ert Storm, a lot of grief with that, a lot of support for the families and the soldiers," said Lamb.
As the chapel moves on, so does Lamb. She's retiring soon and will carry with her quite a menagerie of personal memories. "Herding sheep for the nativity scene, getting the sheep, the donkey would get loose, catching the donkey with the MP's," said Lamb laughing.
Services will continue until August 28th. After that the future is unclear.
Those thoughts are for later. Now, it is praise for what the congregation has.
"I was almost overwhelmed by the countenance on the face of the people even though there was some sadness. The singing reflecting over 150 years how much songs and prayers have been lifted up to the glory of God in this place," said Major General Carver.
Fort Monroe will operate until September 15th when the installation will transfer to the state.