To remember the sacred place we all have cherished, and to share in community—of which the chapel has been and will continue to be a campus-wide symbol—we invite you to please share your memories of your time in Prescott Prayer Chapel at www.facebook.com/prescottprayerchapel.
After an exhaustive analysis and with the support of the Prescott family, PLNU has decided to build a new Lyle and Grace Prescott Prayer Chapel. Due to wood rot within the wood frame of the building, which may not have allowed for the chapel’s survival if relocated, and extensive city regulation costs needed to update and maintain the chapel, the decision was made to rebuild, rather than relocate the existing building.
“In response to a plan review submitted to the city’s development services office, it was determined that the costs to update the building to meet current seismic, lighting, heating and cooling, fire resistance, and ADA building codes, would push the total cost of relocation to more than $450,000,” said President Bob Brower. “The goal is to build a new chapel for significantly less than the projected relocation cost.”
The Prescott family is honored the new prayer chapel will continue to carry the Prescott name. The chapel was named after Lyle Prescott, a missionary and Pasadena College alum, who had died in a fishing accident. For a group of Pasadena College students who led the initiative to build the original chapel, Prescott’s life embodied all that the chapel stood for—devotion, prayer and commitment to God.
“The extended family of Lyle and Grace Prescott deeply appreciate the desire of PLNU leadership to enhance and expand the very special ministry of the Prescott Prayer Chapel,” said Robert Prescott. “For over 40 years, this intimate setting has given students and faculty a place to kneel at the feet of the Master and receive encouragement and renewal. However, the moist climate of Point Loma has aged the wooden structure beyond reasonable relocation and repair. [We] fully support the proposal to construct a new, larger prayer chapel that will invite communion with our Lord for many years to come.”
The Lyle and Grace Prescott Prayer Chapel, a roughly 295 sq. ft. chapel located on PLNU’s campus, was originally financed by a student fundraising effort in 1969. At the time, university students across the country were protesting the Vietnam War by burning buildings and draft cards, but Pasadena College students wanted to build instead of burn. The school’s prayer space was just a small room off the gymnasium and the students wanted their own designated, sacred place where they could go to pray.
Dr. Ron Benefiel, the current dean of the School of Theology and Christian Ministry, along with three other students, Dan Royer, Steve Reese and Gene Schandorff, together headed the fundraising efforts to build the chapel. Through one of the first student-led fundraising efforts in the history of the college, the students raised $30,000 to finance the building.
In 1973, the chapel made the move from Pasadena to San Diego with the college, thanks to another student-led initiative, from which the funds were raised to retain the newly built chapel.
For many students and members of the PLNU community, Prescott Prayer Chapel has been a symbol of student-led spirituality, community, and the importance of our university’s history. Over the years, many have encountered God in holy and significant ways in the sanctity of the chapel. Ranging from whether or not to be married, to determining life callings and vocations, the decisions made from time spent in the Prescott Prayer Chapel have impacted the lives of many who have called PLNU “home.”
In order to maintain the purposeful history and beauty of the chapel, the new Prescott Prayer Chapel will retain many of its iconic features, including the stained glass windows and kneeling areas. It will also be larger in size in order to meet the needs of PLNU’s current campus and student population. The new building will be designed and constructed to be just north of the existing site.
“[The Prescott Prayer Chapel] has served the university well over the last 40 years,” shared Benefiel. “It surpassed our expectations of how it was to be used. There are many stories tied to it, and important life decisions that were made in the prayer chapel. It has been a sort of holy ground for a lot of people and we’re thankful for it. I’m thankful for it.”