There will be a celebration in honor of the 150th Anniversary of St. John’s Chapel on Friday, Sept. 21. As part of the celebration, the Rt. Rev. George E. Packard ’66 will speak.
St. John’s Chapel is one of the oldest buildings on the HWS campus. It was the work of Richard Upjohn, an English-born architect whose American career was as admired as it was prolific. Upjohn is noted for his work on Trinity Church, located on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo, N.Y., and President Martin Van Buren’s home, “Lindenwald,” in Kinderhook, N.Y.
A century after its construction, the chapel changed radically under the vision of then-Colleges’ President Rev. Louis Hirshson and architects Fredrick Woodbridge and Lewis Adams. During the early 1960s, the Chapel expanded to house the growing ranks of Hobart students (who were required to attend chapel until 1968) and to serve as a vibrant symbol for the campus community.
After graduating from Hobart in 1966, Packard served with the First Infantry Division in Vietnam where he earned the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars. Upon graduation from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1974, he transferred his commission from the infantry to the Reserves as a chaplain. Following his ordination in the Episcopal Church, Packard served parishes in Virginia and New York, as director of a social service agency in New York and was canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of New York. He also earned an STM degree at Union Theological Seminary. In 1991, he was called to the Pentagon and served as full-time chaplain during Operation Desert Storm.
After the Gulf War, Packard remained at the Pentagon working on policy development in race relations, multi-cultural diversity and grief-loss programs. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1996. In early 2000, Packard was consecrated Fifth Bishop for Armed Services, Healthcare and Prison Chaplaincy in the Episcopal Church. He supervised the work of more than 200 chaplains in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Civil Air Patrol, Federal Bureau of Prisons and Veterans Affairs Hospitals for 10 years. Most recently, Bishop Packard has been active with the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Recalling Hobart’s Episcopal beginnings, the ceremony will note the continuing values of moral reflection and action in an expanding arch of multi-faith and secular understanding.
The Colleges will also give thanks during the ceremony for the donation and installation of 14 bronze Stations of the Cross by artist Frances A. Hart. Four Stations were purchased by Dr. George N. Abraham ‘59 from the artist in 1967 and given to the Colleges in 2011. Ten were donated by Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Kevin Mitchell and Ellen Mitchell.
The celebration will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by a reception in the Blackwell Room. Additionally, those who know Professor Emeritus Lindsay Lafford, Lord of Ridley P’65, P’71, LHD ‘87 are invited to send him greetings for his 100th birthday during the celebration.