COVID-19 regulations have caused multiple changes to how students are experiencing Chapel this semester.
In place of normal Chapel times, students can take place in three different types of Chapel throughout the semester including small group Chapels, spiritual formation events and community groups.
Small group Chapels and spiritual formation events are essentially the same as last year with a few minor changes to make them more accessible for students.
“Small group Chapels, as we’ve always known them, kind of remain untouched in that they’re still a part of our spiritual formation experience and can happen during our designated Chapel time on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:20 to 11:50, but they are also welcome to happen at times that work best for those leading those groups,” Dean of Spiritual Formation and Campus Chaplain Cyrus Eaton said. “The other version of that and the reason we just call them spiritual formation events is because they’re more event based instead of communal rhythms and so it could be ‘I know of speaker that I’d love to come to campus, and I’m going to host a bit an event or we’re going to do this as a once a month rhythm.’”
In addition, the practice of community groups was added as an avenue for students. Community groups are groups of students led by either a student, faculty or staff member on campus that meet weekly and follow a curriculum set in place by the Spiritual Formation office.
“The new program is community groups which is for those who would like to be a part of a smaller group of individuals connecting weekly,” Eaton said. “Perhaps they don’t necessarily have a vision for a curriculum or what they want to do. We have established more of a built in structure and model for leaders who want to connect with their friends, their roommates or even its incoming freshmen around the theme of life with Jesus.”
The Office of Spiritual Formation has already seen a good response to community groups in addition to small group Chapel and spiritual formation events.
“I think we’ve seen a really good response from students with community groups because right now we have 48 active community groups and the nature of them is that they’re integrative to the student schedules as opposed to all just being at one time,” Robert Lopez De Castilla, graduate assistant of discipleship in the Spiritual Formation office.
Despite the multiple changes, response to Chapel has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I’m so grateful honestly for how students but also how faculty staff and leaders have responded because Chapel and spirit information are an integral part of our life together and it’s been in many ways most affected by schedule change by physical factors like we can’t even sing in the same room at the moment,” Eaton said. “The responses from everybody have really encouraged me in my role knowing that at the end of the day, I really believe this will be a very important defining moment for us.”