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Dream comes true with Farris Prayer Room at Chowan

By Amanda Bradshaw Sharpe
University Relations

MURFREESBORO – On Nov. 1, a group of Chowan supporters and administrators gathered in the newly created Farris Prayer Room to dedicate the space funded by Edith “Edie” Vick Farris in memory of late husband LTC (U. S. Army) Phil Farris.

The audience stood back in silence as Farris entered the prayer room for the first time. She humbly approached two kneeling benches placed beneath the 100-year-old stained glass window from London at the front of the room, taking in every detail as she walked past pews lining each side of the room. She was stunned as she noticed the décor, hand-picked by campus decorator Liz Brown, that matched her vision precisely.

Chancellor M. Christopher White discussed details of the space with Farris. The two noted the tapestries on the wall embroidered with a Quaker quote that embodies the purpose of the space, “Silence is a natural demand born of a need for God, felt by young and old, in all the world’s religions. In silence we may share worship together, sharing our search for life, sharing our quest for peace, sharing God’s gift of love.”

They inspected the raised, arch-paneled walls inset with carved rosettes, each detail meticulously designed.

Edie Farris radiates with delight upon viewing the new Farris Prayer Room at Chowan University, located on the first floor of the Whitaker Library.

Farris commended Brown saying, “You deserve a medal.”

Dr. White asked Farris to choose a scripture to display on the Bible at the front of the room. They opened the pages to John 3:16, “For God so loved the world He gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Reverend Mari E. Wiles, Minister to the University, and three student ministry leaders prayed over the room and the impact a dedicated prayer space will have on Chowan. The space will provide a quiet place to reflect – a place to meditate and worship individually.

“I thank the Holy Spirit for giving me the inspiration in the middle of the night to do this. I thank John Tayloe for passing my thoughts on to Dr. White, and I thank them both for their vision. I thank Liz for her remarkable creativity.” Farris said. “Most of all, I thank our loving Father. I pray this room will be a source of inspiration and wisdom and will draw us closer to Him. To God be the glory.”

The Farris Prayer Room was born of a dream. Farris was sleeping peacefully one night when suddenly she awoke with a profound insight that Chowan needed a Chapel. Her dream instilled in her a sense of urgency. This gift was laid upon her heart with divine direction. So, she got up, went to her computer, and drafted an email explaining her idea.

Farris also felt the call to fund the project. She met with John M. Tayloe, Vice President for Development, and Dr. White to discuss her thoughts. From there, a location was selected and plans were drafted. The sanctuary was crafted on the lower level of the Whitaker Library.

“It radiates an old world feel, yet is new,” remarked Tayloe.

Dr. White said, “The purpose is for the prayer room to be a Christian prayer room. However, it is open to all. All people. All Faiths. And we hope it will become a part of our lives here and anyone who feels the need for quiet contemplation will do that.”

“With all the busyness going on with almost everyone these days, we all need occasional silence. Silence today is harder and harder to find. As one church says, ‘We’re so overwhelmed with the noise and pace of contemporary life that the faint inner voice of the Spirit cannot be heard.’ So this will be a place to reflect, pray, and focus on God,” remarked Farris.

Farris, a 1953 Chowan graduate, and her late husband have given to Chowan in many ways over the years, contributing to endowed scholarship, campus improvements, Friends of the Library, special projects, gifts in kind, and more. When Farris sees a need, she generously shares her resources with the school she loves. The Farris Prayer Room, another gracious gift to Chowan, will forever be cherished.

For more information about Chowan University, visit www.chowan.edu or call 1-888-4-CHOWAN.