The Chapel Programming Team’s five-year Chapel plan is “not that concrete,” leaders say. Thank goodness for that.
Because if Chapel is pushed in the direction Brad Carter and others want it to go, the university’s sense of community could fade away.
A number of statements in the five-year plan make it clear that the team does not see Chapel as a time for the community to gather and share.
It sees Chapel as a time for the community to worship:
Song leaders are now “worship leaders,” a major goal is to “enhance the worship atmosphere and experience in Chapel” and Moody Coliseum is described as a “worship space.”
What happens to Chapel in the next few years is dependent upon many factors; however, the program team’s plan shows what Chapel leaders feel Chapel is and should become..
But they’re wrong.
The Dec. 11, 1919, Optimist reported:
“The students and faculty marched out of the chapel singing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat,’…. A pep meeting in honor of A. C. C.’s official announcement as an A plus senior college followed.”
Chapel has always been about the school’s community. In justifying its mandatory nature, officials have long held that meeting with the ACU family more than makes up for the inconvenience of having to attend every day.
With this, we agree.
Community is strengthened, diversity is encouraged and school spirit is fostered when the student body is made aware of community events and can participate in those events through Chapel.
Most traces of the ACU community have been erased in recent years. Announcements, banners, signs, special presentations, performances, etc., have all been banned from Chapel.
Instead, Chapel is only about corporate worship.
Wayne Barnard, dean of Campus Life, argues that community is built through worship.
Although he is correct, any worship service students are forced to attend almost 150 times a year is not likely to build community as well as the next basketball game-if students knew about it.
Worship-only Chapel also could lead to other problems: whether women should teach, for example, although Carter told the Optimist he has “no thoughts” on that particular issue.
A worship-based Chapel isn’t a bad thing, of course. Chapel’s been about worship for 97 years.
But it’s also been about community, and excluding the community in favor of an all-worship format will continue to weaken the tie that binds together each and every ACU student.
A disconnected, apathetic student body is not worth worship five days a week.