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The sanctuary at the RAF Mildenhall chapel will undergo a major renovation, including new carpeting, refurbished pews and new ceiling tiles.
The sanctuary at the RAF Mildenhall chapel will undergo a major renovation, including new carpeting, refurbished pews and new ceiling tiles. (Ben Murray / S&S)
The sanctuary at the RAF Mildenhall chapel will undergo a major renovation, including new carpeting, refurbished pews and new ceiling tiles.
The sanctuary at the RAF Mildenhall chapel will undergo a major renovation, including new carpeting, refurbished pews and new ceiling tiles. (Ben Murray / S&S)
The stained glass windows at the RAF Mildenhall chapel will remain in place as the building undergoes a comprehensive renovation.
The stained glass windows at the RAF Mildenhall chapel will remain in place as the building undergoes a comprehensive renovation. (Ben Murray / S&S)

RAF MILDENHALL — The RAF Mildenhall chapel closed its doors Monday for a long hibernation while the building undergoes an extensive refurbishment expected to last at least nine months, chapel personnel said.

Worship services will take place in a smattering of temporary locations during the refurbishment, said Emma Doel, secretary to the 100th Air Refueling Wing chaplain.

In store for the 36-year-old chapel is a comprehensive utility and aesthetic improvement, including a new heating and lighting system throughout the building, new floors and carpeting and a new kitchen, among other upgrades, Doel said.

The sanctuary, or main worship area, will receive new carpeting ceiling tiles and kneelers, refurbished pews and other improvements, she said.

The renovation is expected to cost about $2 million, she said.

“It’s just going to enhance our program and simply add to the worship time,” Mildenhall Catholic priest Chaplain (Maj.) Ernest Berthelette said about the pending improvements. “I think it’s going to improve the aesthetic view, of course, because they’re making some structural changes, and they’re making some color changes, from red to blue.”

The extended closure of the chapel has sent numerous church-affiliated groups searching for temporary space until the building reopens. It also means a hiatus for the chapel’s religious-education and Sunday school offerings, Doel said.

“We’re going to stop religious education for the time being,” because a suitable backup location has not been found, she said.

Mothers of Preschoolers, which used the chapel for its twice-monthly gatherings and steering meetings, cut its spring schedule short and will hold its last event in Liberty Park at Lakenheath, said MOPS publicity chairwoman Shelly Criswell.

The group of 30 to 40 mothers of kids age 5 and younger are hoping to secure a new venue, possibly at a local youth center, by the fall, Criswell said.

New worship service schedule

8 a.m., liturgical service, Dorm 212, day room

9:30 a.m., Protestant service, Mildenhall theater

11 a.m., Catholic service, Mildenhall theater

12:30 p.m., gospel service, Mildenhall theater

5 p.m., Catholic Mass, building 809, operations group conference room

Holy week:

Holy Thursday, 6:30 p.m., Catholic Mass, RAF Lakenheath chapel

Good Friday, 11:30 a.m., (Catholic) Stations of the Cross, RAF Lakenheath chapel

Good Friday, 3 p.m., (Catholic) Passion service, RAF Lakenheath chapel

Good Friday, 12:30 p.m., Protestant service, RAF Mildenhall chapel

Easter vigil, April 7, 8 p.m., Catholic service, RAF Mildenhall chapel

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