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ACU president to faculty, staff: Don’t miss chapel on Mondays

Abilene Christian University President Phil Schubert is making it clear that he expects all faculty and staff members to join students at chapel on Mondays.
“We believe there is significant value in our gathering as community as we begin each work week,” Schubert said in a statement to The Christian Chronicle. “We are convinced that a time of worship together will glorify our creator while encouraging each of us on our Christian journey.”

Abilene Christian University students, faculty and staff gather for chapel Monday. (Photo by Grant Rampy)

In a recent note to faculty and staff, Schubert, provost Jeanine Varner and dean of students Jean-Noel Thompson cited daily chapel as one of the identifying Christian traditions at ACU since 1906.
They noted that this statement is read each fall at a faculty blessing luncheon for freshmen:

“As ACU faculty and staff members, we accept the challenge to demonstrate intellectual, Christian and social leadership that can be imitated as we support and participate in chapel and various campus, community and church activities.”

Meeting that challenge requires faculty and staff presence at chapel, the note said. Schubert said he expects all staff offices to be closed for chapel from 11 to 11:30 a.m. each Monday except in “a very small number of areas.”
The Abilene Reporter-News reported on Monday’s chapel service:

A round of applause greeted packed rows of faculty and staff members attending chapel at Abilene Christian University on Monday, after a new directive from university President Phil Schubert for a campuswide chapel time.
Although attending a certain number of chapel sessions on campus has always been a requirement for students, Schubert and other administrators in a Jan. 13 memo to faculty and staff said that the initiative represented a “new commitment to worship in chapel as one body” at the beginning of each workweek.
Staff member Doug Barron, grounds manager for the school, acknowledged that he has not attended chapel services in the time he has worked at ACU.
“We tend to be so busy doing the business of the school that we’re not focused on being here,” he said.
But Barron said he believes that the new expectations for faculty and staff members will help staff and others be better mentors to students.

Read the full story.

  • Feedback
    I can’t tell you how long I’ve wished my own alma mater would do this. Chapel is one of the things that distinguishes a Christian university. But it’s hard to convince students that chapel is important when you allow them 20 excuses absences a year, switch the focus from worship to entertainment and then don’t require your faculty and staff to go as well. If it’s important for the students, it should be important for everyone.
    Imagine a university where the entire campus except for the receptionist shut down for chapel. Vendors? Gotta come back later, it’s chapel time. Outside callers? Call back, that professor is in chapel every day at this time. Now THAT would be actually living the whole “set apart” thing rather than just talking about it.
    January, 25 2011

    It’s refreshing to see ACU placing greater emphasis on daily chapel. Lipscomb no longer has daily chapel as envisioned by early leaders. Very sad.
    January, 25 2011

    My understanding is that Lipscomb no longer has daily chapel. Monday-Wednesday-Friday chapel has been cancelled. There are “convocations” on Tuesdays and small gatherings on Thursdays, but students only have to attend a minimum number.
    January, 26 2011

    It was very inspiring to be with the students and fellow faculty and staff at ACU on Monday.The singing was amazing. As a Harding alum, I remember that President Ganus was always in chapel if he was in town. That set such an example for the student body.
    January, 26 2011

    As I read these comments, I am so saddened to hear that Lipscomb no longer has chapel. I admit I was there a LONG time ago, but one of my dearest memories is sitting in chapel and watching favorite professors come in, some times having to rush in at the last minute, and takes there seats down at the front on the left side of the auditorium. There was no attitude to suggest that chapel was only something for the “kids”. It was for everyone, and we were all together. Sure, there were times when chapel seemed a drag, but there were also days when it was so moving.
    January, 27 2011

    Chapel only means something if it is about gathered worship. My lived experience of chapel was that the worship part was a short devotional that was rushed through so that we could get to the “entertainment.” If the time was actually used productively, enforcing attendance might not be an issue.
    January, 28 2011

    As an ACU freshman (sitting on the left side, floor, 5 rows back), I am very encouraged to see the faculty required to attend chapel. Chapel is a highlight of my day. A time for communing with my friends and other Christians is wonderful! This past Monday, I was excited to attend chapel with all the faculty and staff. It was a successful time and blessing for all that attended. I hope ACU continues this tradition for many years to come!
    Stewart McGregor
    January, 30 2011

    I applaud President Schubert’s directive to the ACU faculty and staff regarding Monday attendance in chapel services. This action is example-setting to students and to the university community.
    Raymond S Stewart
    January, 31 2011

    I teach at Lipscomb, am a Lipscomb grad from “yesteryear”, and actually like the new approach Lipscomb has taken toward chapel and spiritual formation. Tuesday is the day for a chapel gathering for all students, faculty, and staff. Thursday is a day for “breakout” chapels where smaller groups can gather. The students are required to get 30 chapel credits, which means most attend almost all chapel services. The Tuesday chapel is only rarely co-opted for promotional purposes and the chapel office has thoughtfully organized a year-long series on biblical narrative. More importantly, it was recognized that many students do not “engage” in a huge chapel service with “talking heads” up front (notice how many cell-phones, newspapers, computers, etc. are out and in use for other purposes). Why not think about spiritual formation in deeper ways than whether or not a daily chapel service is required and give students encouragement for daily spiritual disciplines that can be sustained after graduation?
    January, 31 2011

    It is a sad day when faculty and staff at a Christian University has to be required to attend chapel only 1 day!! I am appalled. Chapel was the highlight of my day when in college. I wish it were still Christian!
    January, 31 2011

    I remember chapel fondly at ACU and Pepperdine. There is no required or even chapel when one goes out to the real ? world, which I did for over 30 years. During that time I was able to pray and talk to God. Today I get to listen and do some teaching and prayer with up to 15 men 3-4 times a week. Most come for a time to learn about and pray to God, because they want to change their lives. God only knows if they will change from their past ways of gangs, drugs and booze. They spend most of their time with 1100 inmates in county jail.
    Bill Sheppard
    January, 31 2011

    I feel affirmed to hear this from the president of ACU. I said and demanded the same of our staff at Winyo Christian Academy (kenya) on Monday 31st January, 2011. The staff were not as committed to the chapel as the students. Great call to the honor of God!
    Charles Ngoe
    February, 1 2011

    I applaud President Schubert for leading the ACU community in the right direction with regard to chapel. It was a very meaningful time in my ACU experience. Yet we all have to remember that serving God is more than a time of prayer and praise, just like playing football is more than what happens in the huddle. It is vital to live the life, not just to warm the pew, or the colosseum seats.
    Steve Singleton
    February, 1 2011

    I think it is truly interesting that in matters of education ACU pushes the envelop a la the ACU Connected Initiative [http://www.acu.edu/technology/mobilelearning/index.html] but when it comes to organizational communication under the guise of “worship” they bow without thought to the appeal of tradition. They should, rather, figure out the whole cybermissiology thing–bring the Computer Science Students and the Grad School of Missions together and start developing digital worship and educational resources which can be used by students and staff and folks on the global mission fields on which the school equips folks to serve. In fact, all Campbell-Stone Libraries and Archives should be building a Digital Space with these kinds of resources. The churches in the developing nations whose members (often women) are now just gaining access to the information of the web (or any other) via mobile phones need both audio book theological resources and targeted curricula which can be accessed while under religious rights repressive regimes. Smartphones are our Roman Road and it is time we reprioritize to take advantage of the doors the Holy Spirit is opening.
    Ed Dodds
    February, 1 2011

    Chapel is boring and when I was a high school senior visiting colleges, I sat through more boring chapels than interesting ones. In fact, chapel requirement was one of the reasons I chose to attend a public university over a CofC school.
    February, 1 2011

    I was a student in the late 80s at ACU and I loved it there – LOVED the chapel experience. I have had the pleasure of visiting ACU in the last couple of years and attending chapel on two Fridays – separate years. Both of my experiences were sad ones. A good portion of the students didn’t pay attention. I’m not going to lie, I’m sure there were times that we didn’t pay attention either – but what I experienced was clear indifference. Not only was there talking, but they weren’t even trying to whisper! It was quite frustrating. Then there were the students that were playing games on their iPods. LOTS of them.
    I will really applaud President Schubert when he starts to teach the students respect of our Creator and reverence during the worship time.
    February, 1 2011

    One of the reasons my children attended Freed-Hardeman rather that my alma-mater (ACU) is that FHU is one of the few schools remaining in our “fellowship” that still holds mandatory daily chapel.
    I am glad to hear of a new emphasis at ACU on community worship. I usually enjoyed chapel as a student there (late 1970’s) and was always frustrated by the inattentiveness of students sitting around me.
    It is a mistake, however, to suggest that the administration of any Christian universtity bears the responsibility to “teach” students the value of worship. Surely the university needs only to provide the opportunity. The responsibility for “teaching” respect belongs to parents. Students’ lack of interest during an important part of their lives is merely a reflection of their parents’ own lack of attention and training.
    Bobby Wheat
    February, 2 2011

    One of the highlights of my days at ACU (ACC, when I was there!) was daily chapel. I was a transfer from a State University where no one knew anyone! I found that daily chapel not only allowed me to connect with friends that I might not see during the regular course of the week, it allowed me to re-connect with the God who made me. I led my first songs in chapel (Thanks, Bob Hunter!) and still lead singing today whenever I am asked. I am glad that there is still “some” emphasis on chapel at ACU and am encouraged by the stance that President Schubert has made.
    Dee Carter
    February, 2 2011

    This was a praise-worthy article.
    I commend any efforts a Christian university makes in pushing in the positive direction. Chapel is a positive gathering…not a negative one! It is difficult in our “productive” days to make time for chapel. What a convenient way to make it available to all on campus. I too work in a Christian university,(LCU), and faculty/staff are always welcome to attend chapel, EVERYDAY. Most here choose to attend; but many do not take advantage of this renewing opportunity.
    As a Christian university, what better way to take advantage of and introduce and invite a very needed God into our daily life!
    I can’t help to think about places where teaching and speaking of Christianity is ILLEGAL !
    We Christian-Americans have such wonderful freedom!!
    February, 16 2011

    I am an ACU alum and attending chapel is one of my fondest memories. I think President Schubert’s initiative is a great idea, as well as his reasons for implementing it. I believe that students will be encouraged by attending chapel with their professors and other staff. I also believe that daily chapel, in some form, should be something which all Christian colleges are known for.
    I just visited ACU and had the privelege of attending Chapel. What a moving experience! The only thing that bothered me was the constant chattering of people throughout what should have been a time of quiet and reflection. It is sad that some students have not learned to appreciate the unique opportunity they have to worship each day.
    Linda G.
    March, 24 2011

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