“We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song!” This beautiful turn of phrase is attributed to Augustine of Hippo, a fourth-century saint of the church. As Christians, we embrace a living hope that Christ is risen indeed, and God is actively at work in the world. This is why we shall live as Easter people every day. May we be joyful, kind, peacemakers, justice lovers, bearers of light and goodness, always growing in the likeness of Christ for the sake of others.
The Upper Room has much to celebrate in this year of our Lord 2023. God’s glory and faithfulness is on full display in our midst as we celebrate the many significant milestones you will read about in this newsletter. One celebration is the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of The Upper Room Chapel, which held its first worship and communion service on April 8, 1953, at 10:00 am on a Wednesday morning. At the opening service our then leader Harry Denman consecrated the chapel as a place “open to all people for the worship of God” and commissioned us to focus on “the deepening of the devotional and spiritual life.” The Upper Room daily devotional guide had launched in 1935, so its rapid growth and success made it necessary and possible for the construction of the building with the chapel at its center point, located at 1908 Grand Avenue in Nashville.
Since the chapel’s opening, millions of people have visited; they have worshiped and prayed, sang praises, wept, laughed, and shared bread. I’ve been fortunate to be one of the millions.
During my first days on the job at The Upper Room, my colleague Dale Waymack walked me into the chapel and noted the two focal points. In the front, above the altar, is an awe-inspiring, huge woodcarving replica of da Vinci’s The Last Supper; and on the back wall is a 20’ high stained-glass window with more than 9,000 pieces of colorful glass. Both the woodcarving and the window illustrate an event that took place in the biblical upper room. The woodcarving depicts Jesus with his disciples, sharing a Passover meal on the night before his crucifixion (John 15), while the stained-glass window illustrates the Pentecost story found in Acts 2, where the Holy Spirit descends on Christ followers, filling the room and giving birth to the church.
Our work at The Upper Room is like these two stories that frame our mission. We invite people to sit prayerfully with Jesus and then go into the world as Easter people. This is the inward and outward journey of faith.
Your support and encouragement over the year allows us to celebrate these special occasions and to continue to dream and vision for the next seventy years. Thank you for being a part of our past and more important, our future. Alleluia is our song!
Sherry Elliott is the Executive Director of Administration, Interpretation, and Development at The Upper Room.
You can view and interact with The Last Supper woodcarving and the World Christian Fellowship Window at UpperRoom.org/chapel.
This article also appears in the Spring 2023 Fellowship Focus newsletter for friends and donors of The Upper Room. Click the image below to view the complete newsletter.
The worship, preaching, and teaching for The Upper Room’s RESILIENCE conference were among the best I have ever experienced. The event was extremely well organized and went so smoothly. The Upper Room continues to make so much impact on people around the world.”
Join us for the next RESILIENCE conference. Learn more at UpperRoom.org/resilience.