Chaplain (BG) William Green, left, cuts the ribbon, along with Col. Joe Messina, Garrison Commander, to officially reopen Fort Belvoir’s Woodlawn Chapel, during ceremonies June 4. The chapel had been shuttered for two years to repair the air conditioning and mitigate mold issues.

Fort Belvoir’s Woodlawn Chapel Reopens to Communities of Faith

Faith stands up to challenge. That was the triumphant message at Fort Belvoir’s Woodlawn Chapel, where the community celebrated with a ribbon cutting, June 4, marking a return of activity after two years to repair the heating and air-conditioning system, as well perform mold remediation.

Col. Joe Messina, Garrison Commander, told the gathering outside the chapel on a sunny Sunday morning that he understood how difficult the interim period had been.

“I understand that during those two years, that we had temporary facilities you had to set up and break down for services on a weekly basis. And here you have something for our community that is permanent, and that's important that we have this here,” Messina said. “We can now resume the job of community outreach, not just here, but also off the installation, with our local community, with the Kennedy homeless shelter and the things that we do throughout the area. This building is community; reinforcing what the religious services organization is doing for our community.

Messina thanked everybody that put time and effort into this effort, including Chaplain Davis, Chaplain Faichney, who just PCS’d to Fort Stewart, and the time and the effort from everyone pushing the garrison to complete this project, to ensure that the chapel could reopen as quickly as possible.

Chaplain (Brigadier General) William Green, Jr., the Army's 26th Deputy Chief of Chaplains, noted that anywhere you travel in the United States, chapels hold an important place in the community.

Chaplain (BG) William Green, Army Deputy Chief of Chaplains, addresses congregants at the reopening of Woodlawn Chapel, June 4. Green noted how a chapel’s importance can be seen by it’s central location within nearly every American community.

“Chapels serve as a beacon of light in the community. In the United States, the center of everything starts from the house of worship,” Green said. “That's for a very important reason: because of what it instills in the community, and what it does for us in our everyday life and living amongst others within the community that serves as a beacon of hope. It gives us a place to come and practice our religious faith. And it also gives us a place to meet together as the scriptures would tell us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together in the house of worship.”

Green noted that the 127th Psalm in the bible advises that “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it … It is the Lord who establishes families and make sure that we have a place to practice our faith so that we can be the men and women of God that God has called us to be.”

Green joined the Fort Belvoir command team, with their spouses, to cut the ribbon and officially mark the gathering again of community.

Lt. Col. Chad Davis, Deputy Garrison Chaplain, said that it was a difficult time for everyone having to make use of temporary facilities, but it was a challenge that faith overcame.

“During COVID and when this was shut down because of mold and remediation, we were scattered in this building and that building. We didn't have signage; we were on separate parts of the installation. We very much felt like we were in exile,” Davis explained. “But we have returned from exile. The first day back in the building was Palm Sunday, and it was indeed a triumphal entry.”

Paul Lara, Fort Belvoir Public Affairs