For most of its first century of existence, the small building in rural Shanksville, Pa., housed Mizpah Lutheran Church. By the time United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a nearby field Sept. 11, Mizpah's congregation had long dispersed and the building lay in disrepair.
Now, thanks to Roman Catholic priest Al Mascherino, Mizpah has experienced a rebirth. Along with paint and wiring, the historic building received a new name and mission: to remember the victims of Flight 93.
The renovation is still ongoing, but "Thunder on the Mountain, UAL Flight 93 Memorial Chapel" has opened its doors. Mascherino's investment of time and resources has encouraged other donations: volunteer labor; a wrought-iron, perpetual-flame candleholder from a local blacksmith; a late 1800s church bell on permanent loan from Harold Knuf, a former Mizpah member; and a stained-glass window from Congregation Emanu-El Israel, a Jewish congregation in nearby Greensburg.
The nondenominational chapel provides the public — including visitors to the nearby crash site — a place to offer prayers, light candles or simply find a moment of respite.
The chapel's official dedication will take place Sept. 11. Scheduled services will be held on Sundays, holidays and the 11th of each month, and the chapel — once the site of Mizpah's baptisms and confirmations — will also be available for weddings and private services.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers