United Zion Retirement Community had its ribbon cutting and chapel dedication on Thursday September 9th. This event marked the finished of the construction of the Heart of the Home project, which included a larger chapel and renovated entrance. Liz Ackerman from the Northern Lancaster Chamber welcomed everyone to the ribbon cutting while PA Senator Ryan Aument gave remarks on the close knit United Zion community. The ribbon was cut by CEO Sue Verdegem and Board President Jessica Musser. After the ribbon cutting the event moved inside for the chapel dedication.

The chapel dedication started with music by United Zion’s resident quartet of Mary and Glenn Snyder and Jim and Rosene Garman, accompanied by Lilly Walters on piano. Chaplain Ethan Levengood offered the dedication and blessing which was followed by remarks and a reading by residents, Nino and Betty Pesce, which include the prayer of Moses, Psalm 90. Betty Pesce remarked “at this time in our lives, we need a special place where we can connect more intimately with God…there will be fellowship with our brothers and sisters which is so important in our vital community.” Sue Verdegem gave thanks to the supporters of Heart of the Home and talked to her excitement of the project while Board Member Pastor Mel Horst ended the dedication with remarks on the process and the beauty of the final results.

Faith has been at the heart of United Zion for its 115-plus year history. In the beginning, the Firestones started to take in those in need due to their Christian faith and with the help of the United Zion Church expanded this community of faith for seniors. The previous chapel was build 50 years ago when United Zion served about half the residents it currently serves and only sat around 50 residents. The new chapel auditorium seats 125 people with room for overflow for larger events. The new chapel will continue to host daily devotions, Sunday worship services, bible study and choir as well as musical performances and other programming for residents and the community. This was the second phase of the two year plan to renovate the main public spaces, which started last spring with the renovations that enlarged the restaurant space for on-campus dining.  The new chapel is now in the heart of the home right off the beautifully renovated lobby.

Residents love the chapel’s natural light and views overlooking the countryside. The ability to worship in a central location to all residents is bringing much excitement. Family members are happy enjoy the updated entrance that now includes a porte-cochere to shelter people from the elements as they enter the building.

“This space is more beautiful and flexible than I even imagined. I’m impressed by the views of the outside areas and countryside. It will provide opportunities to celebrate the beauty of creation during worship. We are so excited about to watch how the Chapel space pulls us together as a community and gives a place for spiritual renewal. This chapel will be the heart of the home. The connecting Firestone Dining area and lobby will expand the flexibility of the space.  We are so blessed by the support of those community partners and friends that have donated to make these critical improvements possible for the residents,” Sue Verdegem, CEO of United Zion, states.

Paul Risk Construction was the contractor for this project and RLPS was the architect. There are still naming opportunities available for those that would like to support the Heart of the Home project.

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