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McBride Gathering Space honors retired Elon chaplain

Elon University leaders dedicate a space in the Numen Lumen Pavilion after the man who first envisioned a campus multi-faith center.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert welcomes Richard McBride to a podium in the Numen Lumen Pavilion made of wood from fallen campus oak trees.


The first public event to ever be hosted in the Numen Lumen Pavilion was held Friday evening to honor a man whose vision a decade ago helped make Elon University’s newest building possible.

Members of the campus community gathered March 1 in the pavilion, a multi-faith center and the final addition to the Academic Village, to honor Chaplain Emeritus Richard McBride with the dedication of a gathering space that will be used for generations to foster respect and understanding of various faith traditions.

The McBride Gathering Space opens to the pavilion's Sacred Space, a round, two-story room to provide any faith community on campus with a resource for prayer, reflection and celebration. The McBride Gathering Space incorporates its own unique rounded ceiling and will be a setting for worship, receptions, meals and meetings.


“I’m very grateful to have my name associated with this Numen Lumen Pavilion, a center that supports our founders’ vision for Elon, a place where the light of intellect and the light of the spirit will meet,” McBride said in remarks to family, former colleagues, trustees and friends. “This will be a place where the search for meaning and purpose, and the search for understanding, intersect.”

The program featured reflections from Elon President Leo M. Lambert, Vice President for Student Life Smith Jackson, and current Chaplain Jan Fuller, all of whom praised McBride for the values he espoused and the lives he touched in a quarter century of service to the university.

Chaplain Emeritus Richard McBride: "“This will be a place where the search for meaning and purpose, and the search for understanding, intersect.”

“One of Richard’s greatest legacies at Elon is how he cared for us as individuals while also tending to the soul of the university,” Lambert said. “He accomplished this by gently but firmly reminding us that to be an institution that transforms lives, we must nurture the whole student - mind, body and spirit.”

Lambert cited several ongoing university traditions that McBride founded, from the university’s Habitat for Humanity chapter to the Elon Volunteers! program. McBride played an integral role in permanently endowing the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life, and the retired chaplain was also responsible for setting aside spaces on campus such as the labyrinth on South Campus and a meditation garden for contemplation.

“Richard’s thoughtful words, his moral courage, and his ethic of service have challenged, inspired and shaped our community,” Lambert said. “You are an Elon treasure, a tireless champion of community, a visionary leader committed to doing what is right, and an innovative educator who has touched the hearts and lives of so many of us who call Elon home.”

Vice President for Student Life Smith Jackson called Richard McBride a "Lone Ranger" for the many roles he played at Elon in the early years of his career at the university.

McBride served for 25 years as Elon’s spiritual leader as college chaplain, director of church relations and assistant professor of religious studies. In 2011, he received the Elon Medallion, the university’s highest honor bestowed by the president for service to the institution.

Joining McBride on Friday evening were members of his family, including his wife, Wendy, and three of his four grown children.

The Numen Lumen Pavilion, which opened in late February, is a place for prayer, meditation and reflection in the heart of campus. Its construction is part of Elon’s efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and understanding.

Eric Townsend,
3/1/2013 10:05 PM