Students learned through an e-mail of a change in the Chapel policy during next week’s Summit.
“While you are encouraged to attend as many of the Moody gatherings as possible, the maximum number of Forum credits you can earn is 10,” the e-mail read.
Students can attend several events during the four-day Summit, which begins at 7 p.m. Sunday night. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will feature forums at the usual 11 a.m. Chapel time, and then at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
While there would be more than 20 potential credits, the Board of Trustees decided to place a 10-credit cap on credits during Summit, Lewis said. It also limited the number of Chapel Forum credits available each semester to 20 .
Last year’s fall semester off 38 Chapel Forum credits and 71 regular Chapel credits, so that students could potentially meet the required 55 credits before fall break. In the spring there were 39 Forum credits and 73 Chapel credits available.
The Board of Trustees consulted with Jan Meyer, assistant dean of Leadership Development and director of the Center for Christian Service, Leadership and Student Life, and Mark Lewis, assistant dean for Spiritual Life and Chapel programs, during the May meeting. Many expressed concern over the gradual decline in Chapel goers in recent years.
“The first Monday of the school year we have 2,000 to 2,500 students,” Lewis said. “But it tapers off as the semester goes on til that final Monday, and we only have 300 to 350 in attendance.”
When Chapel Forums were first offered in 2003, there was some skepticism about the potential benefits and worry that Forums would detract from the community and fellowship fostered in the 11 a.m. Chapel sessions, Lewis said. But after reviewing end-of-the-year Chapel surveys students completed, he said the Board of Trustees voted to keep the Forums.
“Chapel Forums have grown over the past couple of years from 2003 when there was a 12 Chapel limit to the Forums,” Lewis said. “More groups are given the opportunity to minister during the Forums that students really care about. Groups like Invisible Children and Eternal Threads. All sorts of things.”
“Another benefit is for a lot of students it’s a much better environment than the rush to get to Chapel after class, and then the rush to leave and get to lunch,” Lewis added.
The 10-credit cap is unwelcome news for some students who work during Chapel and rely on Forums like Summit to get the credits they need.
“I guess they’re encouraging people to go to regular Chapel, but I miss at least two Chapels a week since I work,” said Sarah Smith, junior biochemistry major from Wiggins, Colo. “I was kind of relying on Summit to get my 48 credits. That’s only seven less than others have to get, so it’s going to be kind of difficult.”
The Chapel Office is aware of the problems some students face with working and fulfilling their credit requirements. Lewis encouraged students to speak with him and the Chapel Office, and ask professors with classes at 11:45 a.m. to be a little more flexible during Summit.