Pender prison to break ground on its chapel Wednesday

By AMANDA GREENE
Wilmington Faith and Values

It’s been six years of fundraising with donations coming from 74 area churches and 88 people in Southeastern North Carolina. But this week Pender Correctional Institution in Burgaw will break ground on its freestanding chapel.

PCI will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the 4,200 square foot facility at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Only invited guests can attend.

With labor donated from N.C. Baptist Men, the Pender County prison hopes to complete its new chapel in six months.

For many years, the space used as the chapel in the prison was a 20 foot by 24 foot classroom space, the walls lined with bookshelves full of holy texts and reference material for different faiths.

In the North Carolina prison system, privately-funded chapels are fairly rare. According to N.C. prison system records, as of 2010, out of the state’s 70 prisons with chapels, only nine were built with private money.

The new building’s auditorium will seat 200, where the former room seated 30. There are 768 inmates in the prison, said Pender Correctional Chaplain Jimmy Joseph.

The chapel will also have two classrooms, offices for the chaplaincy staff, restrooms and storage space. A large stained glass window in the gable of the auditorium will capture eastern light in the mornings, “creating a worshipful atmosphere in the building,” Joseph wrote in an email. The building will be a wood framed structure with brick veneer to match the other buildings in the prison.

Stay tuned for more on this story. Wilmington Faith and Values reporters will attend the ceremony on Wednesday.

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