Tuesday, August 9, 2011
OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin announced a project today to construct a chapel at Camp Gruber, with the groundbreaking taking place next month. The project, which has received strong support from Oklahoma citizens, businesses and state leaders, will establish a chapel for the camp, which currently does not have a spiritual center. The chapel will feature a sanctuary and facilities to accommodate services for approximately 200 soldiers, as well as offices for clergy and counseling and areas to conduct seminars, Bible studies and other gatherings. Construction of the project is expected to be completed in approximately six months, with a target goal of completion for Spring 2012, when Oklahoma soldiers return from Afghanistan.
“Oklahoma has a strong history of patriotism and faith,” Governor Fallin said. “This special project allows the state, the people of Oklahoma and faith-based institutions to work cooperatively for a higher purpose: to show our support for our servicemen and women by building a chapel at Camp Gruber.”
The Thunderbird Chapel is a gift from the people of Oklahoma to the state’s soldiers and their families. Construction of the facility is being funded solely by the contributions of private citizens, offering Oklahomans the opportunity to support a tangible, long-term gift to the men and women serving in the military. Business leaders, faith-based groups and other volunteers from across the state have committed their time and resources to ensure the timely completion of the chapel.
Project organizers hope to raise more than $500,000 for the construction costs of the chapel. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in building materials and support are expected to be received in the form of in-kind donations.
“Our Oklahoma soldiers shoulder a heavy burden when they leave behind their families to defend our nation,” Todd Pauley, chairman of the executive committee for the Thunderbird Chapel at Camp Gruber, said. “The Thunderbird Chapel at Camp Gruber will serve as a spiritual refuge for those brave men and women seeking peace, healing and guidance amidst an extremely demanding environment.”
The Thunderbird Chapel Fund is working in concert with World Mission Builders who are providing expertise in the design and construction of the Thunderbird Chapel. Volunteers will be called upon to construct the initial phase of the building.
For information on the project and how you can donate or volunteer, visit www.campgruberchapel.org.
About Camp Gruber
Camp Gruber was originally built in the spring of 1942 as a military mobilization training post in the Cookson Hills area of Muskogee and Cherokee counties in eastern Oklahoma. For the duration of World War II, Camp Gruber provided training to the infantry, artillery and tank destroyer units that went on to fight in Europe. At one time, it featured as many as 14 chapels available to soldiers and personnel of all faiths. Following Camp Gruber's deactivation in June of 1947, most of the existing structures were destroyed or moved to other locations. The camp was reactivated in 1977, and although many new buildings have been constructed in the years since, Camp Gruber has remained without a chapel.