A few years ago, tour guides stopped bringing prospective students to Moody Chapels during campus visits.
Leslie Hayes, director of campus visits, said all admitted student and senior tours stop at Chapel, but daily visits and other preview days do not. Because the latter two are shorter, Hayes said trying to pack all necessary information into one day can make fitting Chapel in an issue.
“We also have had some negative feedback about Chapel from visiting families,” Hayes said via email. “We did stop including Chapel in some types of visits a few years ago, but the campus visits team wants to be very clear that we value the Chapel experience as an important part of the ACU culture.”
I remember being so uncomfortable visiting campus for the first time as I walked through the doors in Moody, sat in a chair on the floor and observed. I’d never been around a Church of Christ environment, so it was confusing to me that there was no music, and I had no idea what the songs were.
During my freshman year, I loved Chapel. I would see people swipe in and out and get so frustrated that they wouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity to worship every day. Now, it’s not so much the same story, but that doesn’t change the fact that Chapel isn’t an optional experience.
For something ACU pours a lot of attention into, it surprised me to hear that it was also something they were so willing to let slide away from potential students.
Scott McDowell, vice president of student life, said 90 percent of a student’s time is spent outside the classroom, and ACU’s religious affiliation is its No. 1 differentiator from other universities.
Because we pride ourselves so much on our spiritual formation (and yes, it was a convincing factor for me), the opportunity to grow in faith through worship and community, primarily at 11 a.m. every weekday, should be at the forefront of campus tours.
Cyrus Eaton, the new campus chaplain, also said one of his goals coming to the university has been to make Chapels more intimate. This semester, Eaton decided to eliminate small group Chapels on Mondays, appropriating 30 minutes each week to cultivating community among the whole student body.
“Our goal in the overall Chapel program is that it helps us find our place in the story that God is writing,” Eaton said.
If tours are meant to give prospective students a feel of what being a Wildcat looks like, skipping Chapel should not be an option.
Whether an avid Chapel-goer or a slide and glider, Chapel is a (required) part of every student’s experience for all four years. If current students have to go 55 times, it should be a priority that visitors go once.