By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
He stands in the back of Moody Coliseum at 11 a.m. every day, clutching his notebook to his chest and quietly singing the songs with the students and listening as the speaker shares his address. As the daily Chapel assembly comes to a close, Shane Hughes silently slips out the door, unnoticed by most of those gathered, to slide the master card that will allow the students to receive credit for that day’s attendance.
As Chapel coordinator, Hughes’ job encompasses many important, behind-the-scenes tasks, including sliding the card that will allot students a Chapel credit. Among other things, he works closely with Dr. Wayne Barnard, dean of Campus Life, and members of the Chapel Advisory Committee to plan Chapel programming, and he helps students request and obtain Chapel exemptions. He also arranges for Chapel speakers and prayer, scripture and song leaders, and he meets and talks with students to discuss their concerns and questions about Chapel.
Although he possesses a significant, and sometimes stressful, job on campus, Hughes said it has just given him more chances to serve.
“This job gives me the opportunity to [help] shape people,” he said. “It gives me opportunity to preach the Gospel. It gives me opportunity to meet students … that’s what this job is for. It’s a tool.”
Hughes said he enjoys working with the people in the Campus Life office, his blue eyes lighting up behind his glasses when he talks about how fun it is to work with them, but he said the greatest part of his job is getting to work with students.
“They come from everywhere, they’re going everywhere and they all have so many gifts and so many talents,” he said. “You see the FilmFest, and you see the ISA show, and you see so many things, so many athletes and so many artists and so many people that want to spend their lives serving others. … Where else do you find people like that concentrated in the same spot, and you get to talk to them all the time? That’s great.”
Hughes started his job about a week before school began in August, and he said he continues to learn more each day. One thing he realized is that he prefers that as many people as possible be involved in planning and organizing Chapel, and he’s had to make sacrifices because of that.
“I would want everyone to have a chance to stand up and tell how God has changed their life and how God has moved and the things they’ve seen and the questions that they have,” he said. “I would love for everyone to have the opportunity to say that. And what that requires is that I don’t say everything that I want.
“I don’t mind sitting in the back and watching people that are smarter than me and more eloquent than me stand up, people who know more than me; I don’t mind that at all. And it’s kind of fun to plan stuff, to think about new ways that we can talk about God together, the ways that we can worship God together in this huge venue.”
As Hughes works with Chapel leaders, Barnard said Hughes always impresses him with his willingness to coordinate with students.
“He cares deeply about students and about what they see as either topics or presentations or ways in which Chapel can help them grow, so that’s very positive,” Barnard said. “He painstakingly reaches out to students and involves them in participating in Chapel … and that’s really good because we do want broad involvement, and he works hard at that.”
Barnard said Hughes also partners well with students early in the semester while working on exemption requests. He said last semester he would often leave work after 5 p.m., and Hughes still would be in the office talking with students.
“I would overhear his conversations, and I was just very impressed and moved by the way he was talking to students,” Barnard said. “It was really collaborative and negotiating with them, their exemptions, and I think that’s a huge impact, the way he is able to relate to students at that level.”
Though Hughes values working with his co-workers and with students, he said the job can get to be too much at times. He said that’s when his church, New Life Church of Christ, helps him.
“I think everyone who’s done it would tell you … that it’s a stressful job, and it (the church) feeds me,” he said. “It’s all about your perception. You can be in a very stressful job if you have a network that loves you. My church fills me, and I overflow here. If I wasn’t being filled, then I would burn out quickly. It does so much to keep me sane and to keep me here and keep me loving.”
Hughes obtained his Master of Divinity from ACU in May of 2004, and Barnard said Hughes’ ministry at church and his training from the university help him on a daily basis.
“We have students that don’t understand something theologically that happens in Chapel or they’re not used to things in certain ways,” Barnard said, “and Shane is very good to take time with students and talk with them and listen to them and hear their concerns and help them process and think through various ways of looking at things. I think that’s very impactful.”
Though students might not know Hughes and his influence on campus, his job affects the majority of ACU almost every day of the school year. But he said he shares the responsibility of organizing Chapel with many people on campus, and he’s learned he can’t do everything by himself.
“I guess the thing that I’ve learned is the limitation of my own knowledge because I’ve been trained to read the Bible, I’ve been trained to think theologically, I’ve been trained to love people ministerially, but I’m still not able to run 30 minutes a day by myself,” Hughes said. “Everything is community. Everything works and moves and breathes as community, and if you don’t work together, you’re wasting your time.”