The iconic dome and architecture of the Naval Academy Chapel is known throughout the entire Annapolis region as a point of pride in the state capital's spectacular skyline. It is visible throughout the greater Annapolis area and the Naval Academy Yard as a beacon calling midshipmen, alumni, friends, faculty and staff to a point of deeper faith. Inside, the chapel has an even more impressive story to tell.
At the front of the chapel, over the altar area, is the stained glass window of Jesus walking on the water. This spectacular window was in the original Naval Academy Chapel built some time after the Naval Academy was founded in 1845, but was relocated to the current chapel in which construction began in 1904.
The altar is a focal point in much of Christian worship, and the altar in the Naval Academy Chapel has a prominent place in worship here too.
One feature that may be difficult to see otherwise are the legs of this altar. The altar itself is an ornately carved wooden altar, but the legs are carved in the form of winged creatures. In traditional art and architecture, these winged creatures represent the four gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
The reredos behind the altar is adorned with two figures as well: St. Peter and St. Paul, both foundational in the formation of the church as we know it today from the earliest days of Christianity.
The Naval Academy Chapel pulpit has been used by many great preachers in our chaplain corps and beyond. Although the current pulpit was not installed until a renovation in 1943 it is still notable that the renowned pastor and future Chaplain to the US Senate, Peter Marshall, spoke from the previous pulpit in this same location on Sunday December 7th, 1941 - only hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; he was not actually appointed to the position of Chaplain to the US Senate until 1947. He changed the subject of his sermon at the last minute to a subject much more reflective of the realities that were about to transpire as a result of that eminent attack, which ultimately lead to the class of 1942 graduating in 1941 to support the war efforts.
The three letters on the front of the pulpit emblazoned in gold are the first three letters of the name Jesus in Greek - Iota, Eta, Sigma.
Around the base of the pulpit are 4 ornately carved wooden figures, as with the winged figures used as legs for the altar these also are representing the four gospel writers. In each of these figures instead of a winged creature, the evangelist has the representative animal at their foot. Here they are in order - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
In the rear of the chapel stands an impressive statue of Jesus, beckoning all to "Come Unto Me."