Faith in higher learning: A sampling of chapel services
Abilene Christian University
Abilene, Texas | acu.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Full-time students under age 25 must earn 55 attendance credits per semester.
PURPOSE: “Since the first chapel took place on Sept. 11, 1906, the purpose has been to call our university community together for community worship, prayer, Scripture and spiritual learning,” said Mark Lewis, assistant dean for spiritual life and chapel programs.
Crowley’s Ridge College
Paragould, Ark. | crc.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Resident students must attend and are allowed 10 absences. Commuters must attend on days they have classes on campus.
PLANNING CHAPEL: “We have a chapel committee consisting of three Bible faculty members, the director of student life, a full-time faculty member and the student government president,” said Paul McFadden, registrar and campus ministry director. “Their responsibility is to plan themes and speakers, videos, skits, song leading. … That has made it more effective.”
Montgomery, Ala.| faulkner.edu
WHEN AND WHERE: 10-10:30 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays on the university’s Montgomery campus. (Most undergraduate classes do not meet on Fridays.)
REQUIREMENTS: Resident students must attend, with 10 absences per semester. Commuters must attend on days they have morning classes on campus.
SPLIT DEVOTIONALS: “Our daily devotionals last 20 to 30 minutes and are attended by about 750 students and about 40 employees,” said G. Scott Gleaves, associate dean. “Most … are held in our gym, except when we have a split devotional where the ladies go to the Rotunda Auditorium and the men remain in the gym.”
Temple Terrace, Fla.| floridacollege.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Students must attend on days when they have classes, with four absences per semester.
LOGISTICS: Guest speakers address students on Mondays, faculty and administrators speak Tuesdays through Thursdays, and students conduct chapel on Fridays.
internet chapel: “We podcast chapel, and we have more than 13,000 subscribers to our daily chapel,” said Ralph Walker, former director of public relations. “Parents will often comment they heard their sons speak or listened as their child received some award or recognition in chapel.”
Henderson, Tenn. | fhu.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Full-time students must attend, with 12 absences per semester.
STUDENT INVOLVEMENT: Over the years “the chapel program has changed very little,” said Wayne Scott, vice president of student services. “We now have a theme for chapel each semester, and the Student Government Association helps pick the theme. The SGA also provides students with a suggested reading schedule from the Bible that corresponds with the topics discussed in chapel. Speakers are assigned a topic and Scriptures that
Searcy, Ark. | harding.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Students under age 25 taking nine or more credit hours per semester must attend and are allowed 10 absences per semester.
TWO SERVICES: “The biggest change in our chapel service is the fact that, because of enrollment size, we now have two services,” said Chancellor David Burks. “Every chapel period will primarily be a devotional in nature, although, on occasion, special guests are invited to speak after a period of devotion. … Songs are blended to include both traditional and contemporary.”
Heritage Christian University
Florence, Ala. | hcu.edu
WHEN AND WHERE: 11-11:30 a.m. Tuesdays through Fridays (when the university has a regular class schedule). In Overton Memorial Library — or occasionally outdoors or off campus.
REQUIREMENTS: Resident students are required to attend daily and are allowed six absences. Commuters must attend on days they have classes on campus.
NEW FOCUS: “Traditionally, HCU chapel has sought primarily to expose students to examples of outstanding preaching,” said Brad McKinnon, dean of students and director of chapel. “Since 2011, the emphasis has been on personal spiritual development and exposure to biblical scholarship.”
Nashville, Tenn. | lipscomb.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Students must earn 30 chapel credits per semester, 25 of which must come from assemblies. Service or mission trips may count as credits.
ROLE IN SPIRITUAL FORMATION: “Chapel has now become part of a bigger spiritual formation strategy that takes the intentional path to help students bring every area of their lives under the lordship of Christ,” said Scott McDowell, senior vice president for spiritual development.
Lubbock, Texas | lcu.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Full-time students must earn 44 Spiritual Life Credits per semester, including chapel attendance and other faith-based events.
PHILOSOPHY: “We recognize that all life, growth and development come from God,” said Paul Norman, assistant dean of students. “Our efforts are never more than participatory in the good work that God is doing in the lives of our students. With this reality understood, it is our hope that chapel contributes to the spiritual development of students.
Vienna, W.Va. | ovu.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Full-time students must attend 50 of the 73 Chapel & Assembly times offered each semester.
PURPOSE: “We try to stop, slow down and know that God is God,” said Harry Ogletree, director of spiritual enrichment. “We have tried to be more intentional in integrating biblical faith and higher learning. … We remind our speakers and those who are leading worship that those in attendance come from a wide range of backgrounds. They are encouraged to consider the dynamic of the whole student body when they speak or lead.”
Oklahoma Christian University
Oklahoma City | oc.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Full-time, on-campus
students must attend, with 15 absences per semester.
CHANGES: “Twenty-five years ago, it would be really expensive to show a video in chapel,” said Chance Vanover, associate dean for spiritual life. “Today, most of our speakers bring some type of multimedia with them. … But, most of all, they need to be ‘real.’ If they connect and have something good to say, students respond.”
Malibu, Calif. | pepperdine.edu
WHEN AND WHERE: 10-10:45 a.m. Wednesdays in the Firestone Fieldhouse. The university also sponsors student-led Celebration Chapel and chapels in Spanish, French, Italian and German. Small groups gather for Club Convo, discussing spiritual issues. Students can request one-on-one Spiritual Mentoring sessions with faculty or staff.
STUDENT INVOLVEMENT: “Students are actively involved in selecting and introducing speakers, leading worship and speaking about relevant faith issues,” said Mark Davis, dean of student affairs.
Rochester Hills, Mich. | rc.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Full-time, traditional students enroll in a free, one-credit class, “Chapel/Convocation Series,” and receive a letter grade based on a point scale. Students earn points by attending chapel and other approved events, including seminars and drama performances. An “A” requires 25 points, and most chapel
services give students one point each.
PURPOSE: “Chapel, and the various chapel events, remain one of RC’s primary spiritual formation initiatives and one of the central aspects of RC’s integrated learning academic model,” said John Barton, provost.
Southwestern Christian College
Terrell, Texas | swcc.edu
REQUIREMENTS: On-campus students are required to attend. Students are placed on probation after three unexcused absences.
LOGISTICS: “Usually, students lead the chapel services and often give sermonettes,” said James O. Maxwell, vice president of institutional expansion. “Occasionally, male faculty will present messages. Each of the six academic divisions of the college is required to present a program which will reflect the essence of the division.”
York, Neb. | york.edu
REQUIREMENTS: Full-time students are required to attend and are allowed 10 absences per semester.
TRADITIONS: “Tuesdays are ‘newsdays’. A portion of chapel is dedicated to discussion of current events at the global, national, state and local level (sometimes serious, sometimes humorous),” said Chrystal Houston, director of alumni and communication.
PHILOSOPHY: “We are aware that chapel is a time that can really impact a student’s spiritual life trajectory and we try to make it as impacting as we can,” said Shane Mountjoy, vice president for student development.