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Life Enrichment Center breaks ground for prayer chapel (Sept. 3, 2004)

Life Enrichment Center breaks ground for prayer chapel (Sept. 3, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Life Enrichment Center breaks ground for prayer chapel

Sept. 3, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0157}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LEESBURG — The Rev. Dr. Melton Ware, and his wife, Adelaide, stand beside plans for the prayer chapel opening at the Life Enrichment Center (LEC) here in March 2005. The Wares say prayer has been central to their lives, and they wanted to encourage visitors to the LEC to make prayer a focal point of their stay. Photo by J.A. Buchholz, Photo #04-0089.

LEESBURG — The Rev. Dr. Melton Ware and his wife, Adelaide, are an ordinary couple who did an extraordinary thing for the Florida Conference. They donated a prayer chapel on the grounds of the Life Enrichment Center (LEC) here with the hope it will impact people’s spiritual lives for generations to come.

The groundbreaking was held Aug. 27 behind the LEC’s administration building, where the chapel will be located. Facing Lake Griffin, it will feature a literature rack, formal altar and altar rail, pillows for sitting and an eternal flame, representing the Holy Spirit. The chapel will have a maximum capacity of 15 people and is expected to open in March 2005.

The Wares, who live in Lakeland, have been active in the conference for more than 40 years. They said during that time prayer has been a central part of their lives, leading them to make the donation. Their desire is for everyone to “forget the giver and remember the gift,” while acknowledging the power of prayer.

Adelaide Ware said everything needs a focal point. Her hope is prayer will be the center of focus for the conference. “Prayer is the means by which God intends the church to do its work,” she said.

The Rev. Terry Markins, the Leesburg District’s superintendent, said the addition of the prayer chapel will make the LEC even more special. Markins was filling in for Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker, who was unable to attend.

“The Life Enrichment Center is a hallowed place to many of us. Now, it will become even more so,” he said. “It will serve generations to come.”

Ware has been working in the area of spiritual formation since 1975, when she served on the conference’s work area on evangelism. Not long after, a spiritual formation task force was formed in the conference, with schools of spiritual formation held at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg in 1977 and 1978 before the LEC was built. The 1979 School of Spiritual Formation coincided with the opening of the LEC. The spiritual formation schools continued for 17 years, offering gatherings in the spring and fall and training and workshops in local churches.

The task force for spiritual formation was dissolved in 1994, but revitalized as the current Spiritual Formation Team. Team member Martha Clark said Ware has been an inspiration. “Adelaide paved the way,” Clark said. “She has the heart for spiritual formation. She has a hunger for God. This is the flowering of a dream for her.”

Ware said the vision of the prayer chapel came to her only recently, and she rejoiced in the idea of LEC visitors “being in the quiet, listening expectantly to the voice of God.”

The Rev. Dr. Melton Ware said praying to God is equally important as conversion. He said it is a key way to grow as a Christian and something he witnessed as a boy.

LEESBURG — Conference leaders break ground for the construction of a prayer chapel at the Life Enrichment Center here as the Rev. Cathy Thacker prepares to sprinkle water on the earth. Pictured are Bill Walker, Florida Conference lay leader (center), Leland McKown, Florida Conference trustee (left) and the Rev. Dr. Melton Ware, benefactor. Photo by J.A. Buchholz, Photo #04-0088.

“As a child my family went to church, and when the pastor would say, ‘Let us pray,’ my father would change his looks and attitude. There was something different about him than just sitting there saying words. When I was a teen-ager the last thing I heard at night was my father’s knees hitting the floor, and I knew he was praying for me.”

Ware said his decision to go into the ministry came after intensive prayer. “My whole life changed in a few minutes,” he said. “Prayer has always been central to my life.”

The Rev. Dr. Barbara Riddle, who was the second woman ordained in the Florida Conference, served with Ware at First United Methodist Church, Winter Park, in 1976. She said the Wares have been instrumental in her life and considers both to be her spiritual parents, along with her biological parents.

“I had such an incredible experience learning the church under a father of the faith,” said Riddle, who sang “In this Very Room” at the groundbreaking ceremony. “And when I would watch Adelaide in worship, I could see something in her presence. She had her hands open in front of herself so she could be receptive. It was something almost holy watching her, and I thought ‘I don’t know what she has, but I want it.’ ”

Riddle, whose father became a committed Christian at a United Methodist Men’s conference at the LEC, said she has high hopes for what the prayer chapel can accomplish in the lives of people who visit it.

“Men, women, young people will be healed when they leave their troubles at the altar,” she said. “It will be a holy place, a holy, private place. It will give a sense of renewal. New lives will begin there, and I love how an eternal flame will always burn, symbolizing that God is at work. We don’t have to do it all.”


This article relates to Spiritual Formation.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.