Stanford Memorial Church
Stanford Memorial Church (also known as MemChu) is located at the center of the Stanford University campus in Stanford, California, United States. It was built during the American Renaissance by Jane Stanford as a memorial to her husband Leland. Designed by architect Charles A. Coolidge, a protégé of Henry Hobson Richardson, the church has been called "the University's architectural crown jewel". Designs for the church were submitted to Jane Stanford and the university trustees in 1898, and it was dedicated in 1903. The building is Romanesque in form and Byzantine in its details, inspired by churches in the region of Venice and, especially, Ravenna. Its stained glass windows and extensive mosaics are based on religious paintings the Stanfords admired in Europe. The church has four pipe organs, which allow musicians to produce many styles of organ music. Stanford Memorial Church has withstood two major earthquakes, in 1906 and 1989, and was extensively renovated after each. Stanford Memorial Church was the earliest and has been "among the most prominent" non-denominational churches on the West Coast of the United States. Since its dedication in 1903, the church's goal has been to serve the spiritual needs of the university in a non-sectarian way. The church's first chaplain, David Charles Gardner, began a tradition of leadership which has guided the development of Stanford University's spiritual, ethical, and academic relation to religion. The church's chaplains were instrumental in the founding of Stanford's religious studies department, moving Stanford from a "completely secular university" at the middle of the century to "the renaissance of faith and learning at Stanford" in the late 1960s, when the study of religion at the university focused on social and ethical issues like race and the Vietnam War.


Early history
Stanford Memorial Church is located at the end of the mile-long axis of Stanford University, visible from a distance; the main vista begins at the main entrance, continues to Palm Drive, traverses "the Oval" (a large oval lawn), enters the Main Quad (the core of the university), and finally crosses Memorial Court and the Inner Quad courtyard. The church was commissioned by Jane Stanford (1828”“1905) as a memorial to her husband, Leland Stanford (1824”“93). The Stanfords had intended that a church should become "the centerpiece of the university complex". They were deeply religious, and for their day and social standing, "open-minded ecumenicalists", so they included in the university's original charter that a church built on campus should be a "nondenominational"if essentially Protestant"house of worship". They had traveled Europe for many years, visiting churches, museums, and notable buildings and finding inspiration for the architecture of both the university and church. They received their greatest inspiration from the Piazza San Marco in Venice. During one of the Stanfords' European trips they befriended Maurizio Camerino, an artist with a reputation for producing high-quality mosaics, who was managing the Antonio Salviati studios in Venice. After Leland Stanford's death in 1893, legal disputes tied up the Stanford estate and prevented the completion of the university for several years. When the disputes were settled in Jane Stanford's favor, she was finally able to put into motion her wish for a church. In 1898, she and the university trustees requested design submissions for the church. Once Stanford Memorial Church was ready for decoration, Jane Stanford visited Camerino, who had taken over the ownership of Salvati and Company in 1890, and commissioned him to produce mosaics for the church. The art contained in the church "greatly occupied" Stanford; as former chaplain Robert C. Gregg put it, "The structure was to be without flaw". Stanford was determined that the quality of the church's workmanship would equal the medieval churches she had admired in Europe. Groundbreaking for the church was held in 1899. After a delay of almost a year, Stanford Memorial Church was dedicated on January 25, 1903, with "impressive ceremonies". Demonstrating Jane Stanford's goal of ecumenicism, Rabbi Jacob Voorsanger of San Francisco's Congregation Emanu-El read the first Bible lesson. The church's pastor, Heber Newton, gave the sermon. A second service was held later that day, and D. Charles Gardner, the chaplain, gave the sermon. Stanford Memorial Church's first christening was held between the two services. Jane Stanford once remarked: "While my whole heart is in the university, my soul is in that church". She died in 1905, and so did not live to see the damage caused by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Her funeral took place in the church, referred to as one of her most important accomplishments and "the truest reflection of her visionary leadership" in March 1905. Demonstrating her belief in ecumenicism, clergy from several religious traditions, including a Rabbi, a Presbyterian minister, a Methodist minister, an Episcopal bishop, and a Baptist minister, officiated at the service.

Stanford Memorial Church has suffered two major earthquakes, in 1906 and in 1989. Although extensively damaged, the church was restored after each. The 1906 quake wrecked much of the church, felled the spire, cracked the walls, and "injured beyond repair" the mosaics and Carrara marble statuary in the chancel. The main cause of the severity of the damage was that the church's original construction failed to attach the crossing structure to the surrounding masonry and roof structures. The result was that when the tower swayed in the earthquake, it pushed against the walls and roofs of the nave, transepts and chancel, causing the walls to move and the roof of the nave to be forced towards the gable of the facade. The upper north face of the building was affected by the movement of the nave roof against the gable and fell forward into the Inner Quad courtyard, "its wondrous mosaic was blown out and totally destroyed". The spire fell into the chancel, bringing down the roof and doing massive damage to the internal fittings. The twelve marble statues of the apostles, which stood in front of the niches surrounding the altar, were damaged and never replaced. The spire was never repaired and the tower was removed and replaced by a simpler structure; however, the clock was saved and eventually placed in another building on campus, the Stanford Clock Tower. The crossing of the church was the only part of the building to remain relatively stable after the quake, and the only mosaics not destroyed in the quake were the four angels that decorated the crossing dome's pendentives. Repairs of the earthquake damage began immediately. The extent of the damage was such that the church had to be completely rebuilt. It was dismantled stone by stone, which, along with the windows, were labelled and stored. "To assure permanence" in case of further earthquakes, the masonry was anchored to concrete-reinforced walls. The building's crossing received a tiled hipped roof and an oculus, which lit the interior of the church, and was added above the renovated dome. The original dome had been decorated with a "a frescoed Victorian interpretation of God's eye"complete with tear"surrounded by cherubs and shooting star". The new dome had a frescoed ceiling decorated with bronze designs as opposed to the gold leaf present before the earthquake. A further structural alteration was that the irregular rose window of the facade was replaced by a more regular round-arched window like the smaller ones flanking it. The dedication, which was engraved in large letters below the facade mosaic, was replaced by a smaller dedication plaque placed at the lower left of the facade. The mosaics were restored by Camerino, who did not appraise the damage until 1913. He had saved the original drawings in Venice, so he removed and re-fabricated the chancel mosaic, and redesigned the entire exterior mosaic. Camerino also donated mosaics to fill the spaces left by the removal of the dedication. The tile floor was replaced with cork. The Stanford alumni magazine, in early 1917, declared the renovation complete, stating that "the church, for almost the first time since it was begun, is finished". In 1989 the church was damaged again, in the Loma Prieta earthquake. The integrity of the structure remained, but the crossing structure, the only major part of the building that was not damaged in the 1905 earthquake, buckled and caused several stones in the north and west arches to slip as much as to 2 inches (0.051 m). The four mosaic angels in the pendentives supporting the dome were damaged. An eight-foot mosaic section of an angel's left wing fell 70 feet (21 m) to the floor. Several stones from the east arch wall fell onto pews in the balcony, and the organ-loft railing collapsed inward. Although the damage was minor, the church remained closed until 1992 while restoration was carried out. In this restoration the entire crossing was strengthened by bracing it behind the dome and securing it to the superstructure of the building. The roofs, which had not been replaced since 1913, were rebuilt with plywood diaphragms and 30,000 new red clay tiles were installed. The wing of the damaged angel was restored; Stanford University hired William Kreysler and Associates to create a new backing system to secure this angel and three other mosaic angels to the base of the dome. The stones from the arches were replaced. During the renovation after the earthquake, a piece of the original mosaic from the vestibule, with its Chi Rho , was found in the foundation and inserted into the Communion Table in the chancel, linking the current building with the pre-1906 church. Other improvements to the church were also made at this time. The Victorian chandeliers were repaired and rewired, and the transept balconies, which had been closed for twenty years because they were declared unsafe, were reopened, after the false doors on the south side of each balcony were replaced by emergency exits and connected to existing staircases on the other side of the wall. Stanford Memorial Church was rededicated by chaplain Robert C. Gregg on November 1, 1992.

Before the 1950s, Stanford "had the reputation of being a completely secular university". Stanford professor Van Harvey refers to this as a "background of aggressive secularism and the almost complete neglect of the academic study of religion". In 1946, Merrimon Cuninggim, a visiting chaplain at Stanford Memorial Church, criticized the "dearth" of religious and spiritual resources available at Stanford for its students and criticized the university's lack of academic courses offered in the study of religions. Cuninggim insisted that the university's administration and trustees were responsible because they had interpreted the non-sectarian clause in Stanford's charter in "a negative and restrictive fashion rather than as enabling the tolerance and the flourishing of many religious faiths on campus". Cuninggim also charged that Stanford's religious policies were inadequate compared to other prominent U.S. universities. Harvey speculated that if Stanford had established a seminary like other prestigious universities, its religious studies department and the "ethos" of the entire institution would be different. In 1966, however, the Board of Trustees got a court order that allowed them to change the non-sectarian clause in Stanford's charter so that they could expand the university's religious program, which included permitting sectarian worship services at Stanford Memorial Church. Stanford did not employ a full-time professor in religion until 1951 and did not establish a religious studies department until 1973, later than most other universities in the U.S. Earlier courses in religion were largely offered by the chaplains of Stanford Memorial Church. David Charles Gardner offered a course in Biblical history and literature beginning in 1907, and by 1910, he was teaching New Testament Greek and Bible classes. Gardner's successor, D. Elton Trueblood, taught classes about the philosophy of religion. In 1941 Trueblood's efforts to expand the study of religion resulted in the creation of a minor in religion, as well as twenty-one courses offered by him and four faculty members. By 1960, the chaplains of Stanford Memorial Church no longer had to run the program, which had expanded to allow students the option of majoring in the study of religion. By the mid-1960s, the religious studies program at Stanford was enjoying "enormous success". In the 1960s, the study of religion at Stanford focused not on academics, but on social and ethical issues like race and the Vietnam War. Leading this focus was Stanford Memorial Church chaplain David Napier, who was "a powerful critic of U.S. policy in Vietnam". Napier, along with Stanford professors Michael Novak and Robert McAfee Brown, were the subject of a Time Magazine article in 1966, describing "the renaissance of faith and learning at Stanford". Students crowded into the church to hear anti-war speeches by them, as well as by "notables" such as Linus Pauling and William Sloan Coffin. In 1993, Stanford became the first major educational institution in the United States to give formal permission allowing same-sex commitment ceremonies at its chapel. The first ceremony, called "vows of commitment", took place on Labor Day, September 6, 1993, and was performed by Associate Dean of the Chapel, Diana Akiyama. Stanford's Memorial Church's dean at the time, Robert Gregg, obtained permission from the university administration and discussed it with his staff before the ceremony was performed.

Stanford Memorial Church, throughout its history, has been served by chaplains who have been influential amongst the Stanford University student body and community at large. R. Heber Newton, the first and last pastor of Stanford Memorial Church, resigned after four months in 1903 "because he disagreed with Mrs. Stanford on some aspects of church management". According to Stanford biographer Robert W. P. Cutler, "Newton's tenure had been a disappointment to Mrs. Stanford". Newton had been rector of All Souls' Church, New York City (1869”“1902). He was a leader in the Social Gospel movement, a supporter of Higher Criticism of the Bible, and sought to unify Christian churches in the United States. David Charles Gardner, who replaced Newton and was the first chaplain of Stanford Memorial Church, served the church from 1903 to 1936. An Episcopal minister, Gardner was known as "the Padre" to his students at Stanford. He was born in England, immigrated to the U.S. when he was twenty-one years old, and attended seminary near San Francisco. Gardner taught courses in Biblical history and literature at Stanford. Edith Mirrielees, a student, professor, and Stanford historian, considered him "a preacher of only indifferent ability" but "a strength to the whole university". According to her he was the prime mover behind the creation of the Stanford Home for Convalescent Children, established in 1919, which eventually became the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. D. Elton Trueblood, a Quaker, was the church's chaplain from 1936 to 1946. Trueblood was also a professor of philosophy of religion at Stanford and wrote 33 books, including one about Abraham Lincoln. Trueblood and his wife hosted monthly Friends meetings in their home. He met weekly with Orthodox Jewish students in the vestry of Stanford Memorial Church. Trueblood left Stanford to go to Earlham College. George J. Hall was the interim chaplain between Trueblood and Robert "Rabb" M. Minto, who, except for a short break in his employment in 1949, worked at Stanford for almost twenty years, from 1947”“1965. Ordained in the Church of Scotland, Minto was known for his handwritten marriage certificates. Paul C. Johnston filled in during Minto's break. Stanford's next two chaplains, B. David Napier (1966”“72) and Robert McAfee Brown (1972”“73), were among the most politically active chaplains. Napier was an ordained Congregational minister. He was born in China to missionary parents, grew up in the American South, and went to seminary at Yale. He gained fame among Stanford students "for his efforts to relate Scripture to the turbulent political times of the late 1960s". Napier was a "charismatic biblical scholar ... a powerful critic of U.S. policy in Vietnam". Napier was also a "gifted" preacher and jazz pianist. Brown, the author of 29 books, became "an international leader in civil rights, ecumenical and social justice causes". He also protested U.S. involvement in Vietnam and taught religion and ethics in relation to contemporary life and literature. Robert Hamerton-Kelly (1972”“86), born in South Africa, was a United Methodist minister. He taught religion, classics, and Greek at Stanford. Thomas Ambrogi was the acting dean in 1986. He was a former Jesuit priest who was an elder in the First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto, and referred to himself as " a transdenominational Christian with roots in the Catholic tradition". Robert C. Gregg (1987”“98), was born in Texas and ordained as an Episcopal minister. He was also Professor of Religious Studies. Kelly Denton-Borhaug (1999”“2000), a Lutheran minister, came to Stanford in 1996 as an associate dean. Staff The Rev. Scotty McLennan has served as Dean for Religious Life at Stanford since 2001. He is joined by associate deans Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann and The Rev. Joanne Sanders to form a multi-faith team. The deans oversee educational programs and serve on administrative committees on campus. McLennan, a Unitarian Universalist minister, was "an activist neighborhood lawyer" in Boston before becoming a university chaplain, first at Tufts University. Garry Trudeau, who was McLennan's roommate when they were students at Yale University, based his Doonesbury character, the Rev. Scot Sloan, in part on McLennan. Rabbi Karlin-Neumann is Stanford's first Jewish associate dean of religious life. Before the university hired her in 1996, the chaplaincy position was called "Dean of Memorial Church"; in order to accommodate Karlin-Neumann, the position's name was changed to "Dean of Religious Life at Stanford". Before coming to Stanford, Karlin-Neumann had been a Hillel director and chaplain at UCLA and Claremont College, a rabbi in Alameda, California, and was active in Reform Judaism. She has taught courses in Jewish feminism, rabbinical ethics, education, and social justice. She refers to her role at Stanford as "Mem Chu and a Jew, too". Sanders, an Episcopal priest, has worked at Stanford since 2001. She has degrees in theology, sports administration and physical education. Her career has focused on the connection between body, mind, and spirit. She serves as liturgical officer for Memorial Church, is responsible for coordinating and facilitating the religious services at the church, and is active in the athletic community on campus. She is also a member of Stanford's Women's Community Center. Robert Huw Morgan has been Stanford Memorial Church's organist since 1999. He is a lecturer in organ at the Stanford University School of Music. Morgan performs at up to thirty services, mostly weddings, each month at the church. Mary Gallagher is the wedding coordinator at Stanford Memorial Church.

Stanford Memorial Church was built during the American Renaissance period, a time of architectural eclecticism, so elements of styles from different eras are synthesized in its design. The architectural style of Stanford Memorial Church has been referred to as "a stunning example of late Victorian ecclesiastical art and architecture with echoes of Pre-Raphaelitism". As it stands today, having been altered after earthquake damage, Stanford Memorial Church has the plan and structure of a large Romanesque church while the extensive use of mosaic and the foliate forms of the stone carvings reflect Byzantine styles seen by Jane Stanford on her visits to the churches of Constantinople and St Mark's Basilica, Venice. The architect was Charles A. Coolidge, a protégé of Henry Hobson Richardson, and who developed the massing of Richardson's Trinity Church in Boston, (1876). Like Trinity Church, Memorial Church originally had a large central tower with turrets and a twelve-sided spire, but this was lost as a result of the 1906 earthquake. The church's blueprints were prepared by Clinton E. Day of San Francisco, and Charles E. Hodges was the supervising architect for the project. Jane Stanford hired builder John McGilvray, who was responsible for constructing the St. Francis Hotel, the City Hall complex in San Francisco, and much of Stanford University, for the actual construction of Stanford Memorial Church. Jane Stanford's taste and knowledge of both contemporary and classical art is evident in several aspects of the plan, appearance, and architecture of the church, which "dazzle the eye yet also produce an atmosphere of quiet contemplation". On her direction, Coolidge imitated the "glorious color" of the European cathedrals, especially those in Italy. Although the iconography in the church is Christian, Stanford was a "late Victorian progressive", and chose the art less for its religious themes and more for its "humanitarian ethics". She requested that the designs include women, "to show the uplifting influence of religion for women"; there are many women depicted in the 24 mosaics throughout the church. Art historian Judy Oberhausen reports that Stanford used compendiums of biblical illustrations like The Story of the Bible by Charles Foster, which contained 300 illustrations and summarized the events and stories she wished to depict in the church's windows and mosaics. Jane Stanford's design included inspirational messages placed throughout the church in the form of inscriptions carved into its walls and enclosed in carved frameworks. For example, the following quotations can be found in the church's east transept: Religion is intended as a comfort, a solace, a necessity to the soul's welfare; and whichever form of religion furnishes the greatest comfort, the greatest solace, it is the form which should be adopted be its name what it will. The best form of religion is trust in God, and a firm belief in the immortality of the soul, life everlasting.

The church is a cruciform structure measuring 190 feet (58 m) long and 150 feet (46 m) wide, which originally included the clock and bell tower with an 80-foot (24 m) spire. The facade faces the Inner Quad, and is connected to other buildings by arcades which extend laterally. The entry is through a narthex or vestibule extending across the building. The nave has a single aisle on either side, separated by an arcade with a clerestory above it. The crossing is formed by a structure of square plan which once supported the central tower. Over it is a shallow dome supported on pendentives and rising to a skylit oculus. High semicircular Romanesque arches separate the crossing from the nave, transepts and chancel. The chancel and transepts are apsidal. There are deep galleries with concave balustraded fronts in the transepts and an organ gallery above the narthex. The sanctuary, in the chancel, is elevated and approached by steps.

The chief building material of the church is buff sandstone, which came from the Goodrich quarry in San Jose, was delivered by train and rough-cut in the university Quad. It is roofed with terracotta tiles of the Italian imbrex and tegula form. The nave, chancel and transepts appear to project from the robust square central structure which is now roofed with tiles and has a small skylight above its centre. The ornate facade is divided into two zones with a gable roof of low pitch surmounted by a Celtic cross. In the lower zone, there are three arched entrances; the central one is slightly larger than the others. The surrounding stonework is intricately carved with stylized flora, twisted-cable moldings, and bosses of sculpted cherubim, a motif which occurs in different media throughout the church. In the spandrels are mosaic depictions of the biblical concepts of love, faith, hope and charity intertwined in a vine representing the " tree of life". In the upper zone of the facade, surrounded by more elaborate stonework, is a large central window, with groups of three smaller windows on each side. The original central window was a quatrefoil-shaped rose window, but after the 1906 earthquake, it was replaced by a "classical round-head window that more grandly restates the smaller flanking, articulated openings" and that corresponded with the mission-style architecture of the Quad. Beneath the windows are inlaid panels of colored marble. The gable and surrounding surfaces contain the church's largest mosaic, created by Paoletti, and recreated by him after the 1906 earthquake. Measuring 84 feet (26 m) wide at the base and 30 feet (9.1 m) in height, at the time of its completion, it was the largest mosaic in the U.S. It depicts a group of men, women and children, 47 in all, surrounding and "paying close heed" to Christ, the mosaic's central figure. Paoletti included a landscape with "waving palms and a gleaming sky" behind Christ. After Jane Stanford's death, the mosaic popularly gained the name " The Sermon on the Mount", although Stanford University historian Richard Joncas insists that the mosaic does not depict the scene as described in the Gospel of Matthew and has referred to it simply as "an indefinite biblical scene". In the Stanford University press release about the gift of watercolour cartoons for the church's mosaics, Paoletti's design for the facade is described as "Christ Welcoming the Righteous into the Kingdom of God", based on Matthew 25:34. It appears that Stanford rejected a previous design which still exists as an unfinished watercolour. The subject was the Last Judgment, and it contains such details as a skeleton rising from the grave, and a winged dragon in Hell.

Jane Stanford has been described as having a "Victorian aversion to blank space" and so created a church that is "a dimly lit cavern of glowing mosaic surfaces ... and vibrant, stained-glass windows". The church is richly decorated throughout, its architectural features carved with formalized foliate ornament, and the walls adorned with mosaics in the Byzantine manner. The stained-glass windows were crafted by J. and R. Lamb of New York. The chandeliers, installed in 1915, are in the Art Nouveau tradition and have gold decorative patterns cast in pot metal. The church is entered through three bronze doors adorned with angels, a recurring motif throughout the church. The doors open up into a narthex or vestibule decorated with mosaics on the walls and stone carvings on the architectural details. There is a variety of styles and motifs reflecting the hands of different craftsmen. The mosaic that adorns the floor depicts the Lamb of God surrounded by the symbols of the four gospel writers: St. Matthew (the winged angel), St. Mark (the winged lion), St. Luke (the ox), and St. John (the eagle). These symbols also appear in other areas of the church. A Celtic cross adorns the central wooden door that leads into the nave, and Latin epigraphs have been engraved above the two side doors. Above the narthex is an organ gallery. The nave is arcaded and has a single aisle on each side with clerestory windows above. The exposed timber ceiling was inspired by Trinity Church and is constructed with tied hammer beams, which can be seen radiating in the chancel. The floor of the church slopes downward towards the crossing. The chancel and transepts are three semi-circular apses. They are separated from the broad central space by large semi-circular arches on stout columns with carved capitals. The transept apses each have a balcony with a concave balustrade. Directly above the crossing is a dome supported on pendentives. Around the base of the dome are decorative gilt bands, the lower depicting a scrolling vine. Jane Stanford intended the dome's decoration of to be of mosaic tiles showing a variety of symbols, but the church's builders thought it would make the dome too heavy, so the decorations were painted. On the spandrels of the pendentives are mosaics of four angels measuring 42 feet (13 m) from wing tip to wing tip, rising from clouds. The angels survived the 1906 earthquake, but the angel looking downward was severely damaged during the 1989 earthquake because an 8-foot section of its left wing fell 70 feet (21 m). The chancel, according to Hall, contains "artistic work of a kind seldom seen anywhere". The raised tile