Physicians use woodworking skills, craft door of new chapel - Word&Way

Physicians use woodworking skills, craft door of new chapel

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Love for patients and for working with wood led two Jefferson City Medical Group physicians to create a symbol of hope at a new hospital.

Dr. Richard Jennett (left) and Michael Craighead admire the door they created for the chapel in SSM Health/St. Mary’s Hospital in Jefferson City, Mo. Dr. Craighead is a deacon at First Baptist Church in the capital city. (SSM Health/St. Mary’s Hospital photo)

Dr. Michael Craighead, retired JCMG surgeon and chief operating officer and Dr. Richard Jennett, current JCMG president and gastroenterologist, recently completed a door for the chapel in SSM Health/St. Mary’s Hospital in Jefferson City, Mo.

Several years ago, St. Mary’s Foundation purchased a site, which was mostly covered with dense forest. “We realized that it would be necessary to remove many large trees in order to clear the land. Milling trees into lumber and making furniture is a hobby shared by several members of JCMG,” Dr. Jennett said.

St. Mary’s administrators gave the two physicians permission to cut and harvest trees in keeping with the conservation efforts of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, sponsors of SSM Health Care.

The pair and Dr. Jonathan Roberts, another JCMG surgeon, cut trees and used a portable sawmill to cut planks.

Dr. Jennett maintains a workshop at his home, with equipment and space to process lumber “from start to finish,” Dr. Craighead, a deacon at Jefferson City’s First Baptist Church, explained.

At first, he and Dr. Jennett assumed they would construct furniture, such as podiums or desks, for St. Mary’s.

“We had made a conference table and some smaller projects for JCMG, and both of us have done other things for our families,” Dr. Craighead said. “So the administrators were aware of our work.”

Instead, administrators asked for the chapel door, designed by Beth Trueblood, principal at Lawrence Group, a St. Louis-based architectural and interior design firm, and Brent VanConia, SSM Mid-Missouri president and CEO at St. Mary’s.

After the design was finalized, Drs. Jennett and Craighead obtained technical advice from Terry and Scott Homfeldt of Freedom Products Co., experienced with church interiors.

The two physicians constructed the door in Dr. Jennett’s workshop. Made primarily of white oak from the hospital site, the four-paneled door features black walnut from Dr. Craighead’s property. The black walnut wood was used as the center panels of the door’s exterior. The contrast with the oak panels gives the effect of a cross.

“We were greatly honored when St. Mary’s asked us to make the chapel door. We recognize the central importance of the chapel to a faith-based health care organization, and we are very proud to be able to contribute in such a visible way,” Dr. Jennett said. 

“It was a privilege to construct something that will endure for years to come, especially in the area of the chapel that is so integral to the mission of the hospital,” Dr. Craighead added.

He noted that, though he had been interested in woodworking since his middle-school shop days, he became more involved in it because of Dr. Jennett.

“Without him, his facility and his know-how, I might not have gotten more involved,” Dr. Craighead said.

In the last eight to 10 years, Dr. Craighead has created American Doll wardrobes for two granddaughters and television cabinets for two others. His daughters-in-law have received chests for silverware, and he has made dining room tables.

“I just do it for the fun,” he said.