Special to the News-Journal

MARSHALL — The unfinished walls of East Texas Baptist University’s new Chapel on the Hill this week were covered in blessings of Scripture and prayers from faculty, staff, and community members.

“As this project nears completion, thanks to God’s provision through the benevolence of the Ponder family and many generous donors, our excitement continues to grow for the day when people will gather in this sacred space,” university President J. Blair Blackburn said. “Our written and spoken Scriptures and prayers will herald and honor what God will do through this icon.”

After an initial gift from the Ponder family of Marshall, ground was broken last August on the chapel and adjacent park.

Founders of Master WoodCraft Cabinetry and members of First United Methodist Church of Marshall, Gene and Patsy Ponder, along with their children and grandchildren, initially donated funds to create a park area with gardens, a walking path, an arbor, and benches. Expanding on the original idea, the family later contributed additional funds to construct the Chapel on the Hill. The park is named in the memory of Kenneth Eugene Ponder, son of Gene and Patsy, who died in 2017.

During Monday’s visit, Intercessory Prayer Ministry Coordinator Cari Johnson recalled Psalm 119:11, which says, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

“Each one of us has the opportunity and responsibility to tuck God’s truths away in our hearts and minds each day so that our thoughts, words and actions might be pleasing to Him,” Johnson said. “I was encouraged to see our campus community extend this symbolism by ‘hiding God’s Word’ within the newly constructed walls of the Chapel on the Hill.”