Pittsburg State University is usually a busy place, especially on football game days when Carnie Smith Stadium is filled with cheering fans.



But, just a few yards away, on the shore of University Lake, is a quiet sanctuary, a spot intended for meditation and prayer that is also open for ceremonies marking life’s milestones, such as weddings, baptisms and memorials.

Pittsburg State University is usually a busy place, especially on football game days when Carnie Smith Stadium is filled with cheering fans.

But, just a few yards away, on the shore of University Lake, is a quiet sanctuary, a spot intended for meditation and prayer that is also open for ceremonies marking life’s milestones, such as weddings, baptisms and memorials.

Timmons Chapel was dedicated on Oct. 2, 1966, a gift to those of all faiths from Mrs. L.K. Timmons, Pittsburg.

Built on concrete piers set well below lake level, the chapel was designed by Richard N. Wakefield, Kansas City, Mo., architect, in a country English Gothic style. Chapel walls are of native limestone, with more than 80,000 pounds of Vermont slate forming the roof and Crab Orchard quartzite, quarried in Tennessee, used for the floor.

Chapel windows, designed by Irish artist Ronald N. Dixon, are made of faceted French glass. The lancet window depicts the Creation, with the Hand of God protruding through the clouds to pour life-giving light rays downward upon the world. The rose window in the narthex has a sparkling, jewel-like quality achieved by the use of small pieces of glass which are chipped in the surface. The window represents beauty through music and song with the harp’s strings.

This is appropriate, since the chapel is the site of annual Christmas concerts, offered by the PSU music department as a gift to the community.

Gene Vollen, former PSU music department chairman, said the first such concert was arranged by Mary Aubers, a woodwind teacher, and also included Mary James, who played the viola da gamba, Frank Finley on flute and Martha Pate on organ.

“They called it an Advent and Christmas concert, and I believe they did it for two or three years,” Vollen said.

The concerts stopped for several  years, during which time Aubers died.

“In 1978 we did the same concert again, and it was so moving that we just kept it up,” Vollen said.

He added that Mrs. Timmons was very involved with the concerts and usually attended them before her death in 1985.

“She would bring in fresh greenery for the decorations, because she didn’t want anything fake in the chapel,” Vollen said. “She also had a candelabra, I think it might have been a menorah, that she wanted placed on the organ during the concert. She wanted the candles burning, so we’d have to put down plastic so we didn’t get candle wax on the organ.”

He said that Mrs. Timmons was delighted to have the chapel filled with lovely holiday music.

“And, of course, it’s acoustically very well suited for this,” Vollen said.

The organ and the bronze bells in the tower, cast for the chapel in Holland, were gifts from Mrs. Timmons’ children.

Nine wedding rings, fashioned into the altar rail, are symbolic of one of the chapel’s more important functions. PSU students may utilize the chapel for weddings without charge.

The chapel is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for those seeking a time of peace or prayer. The small garden on the lake side of the chapel, traditionally known as a garth, features a stone statue of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, and is also a favorite place for meditation.

Only current or former PSU students, faculty and staff may schedule special events in the chapel, unless special permission is obtained. Group use on a regular basis is not allowed. Anyone needing information about using the chapel should call the Overman Student Center office.