If one were to walk into Cullen Auditorium on a Tuesday at 11:20 a.m., they would be surprised to see college students singing along with Larry the Cucumber and laughing at a joke made by Bob the Tomato.
So, why are students so interested in watching a show from the late-90’s and early-2000’s about talking produce telling bible stories?
To help create community and relive their childhoods throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, some ACU students decided to create Veggietales Chapel. The purpose was to allow students to watch the iconic show about singing fruits and vegetables together and discuss the biblical themes drawn from the short stories.
The spark that ignited the idea of Veggietales chapel was McKenna Towell, a junior engineering major from Brownwood.
At the beginning of the fall semester, we struggled to find out what chapels and small groups were meeting,” Witemeyer said. “Having grown up loving VeggieTales, I was all for the idea, and we immediately started looking at how to start our own chapel. Then, with a lot of help, we were able to start a chapel themed around VeggieTales that we enjoyed and wanted to lead.”
The two students start Veggietales chapel with 13 of their friends that went to their church. Then, as people heard about how they could relive their childhood memories of hearing Junior the Aparagus’ off-pitched singing, the chapel’s size grew larger and larger.
“The very first day we did VeggieTales chapel, we had 13 people, then on the second week, we had over 30 people,” said Towell. “For the third week, we moved to a room with a capacity of 60 and had 58 people that week. Then, we moved to another room with a higher capacity the next week, but we ran out of room and had to turn away about 30 people. The growth we had was absolutely insane.”
As the chapel has grown, it has reached a plethora of people from all across campus looking for an escape and to find nostalgia in the childhood favorite show. One of those students is Brianna Mullins, a junior mathematics major from Lubbock, who started attending the chapel celebrating the iconic Christian show this spring semester.
“In a way, it is a stress-free chapel,” Mullins said. “It’s been a really good time being able to relive my childhood and be able to understand some of the show’s deeper meanings and how they adapted Bible stories that I now know. It’s by far one of my favorite chapels to go to, and sometimes, the only reason I get up on Tuesday mornings is to go to Veggietales Chapel.”
Another student who has enjoyed reliving his childhood and has felt the chapel’s impact is Jared Mayfield, a junior physics and engineering science technology major from Corinth.
“It’s something I look forward to every week because it has brought me joy and reconnected with what I did as a kid,” Mayfield said. “The combination of the nostalgia and joy it brings me makes me want to keep going. It’s been a welcomed change of pace from my day that has allowed me to recenter and refocus on my faith and journey with Christ.”
With such a rapid growth of people attending, the two students decided they need a much larger space. After a brief amount of time, Veggietales Chapel shifted to its current location in Cullen Auditorium, where they would have room for everyone to sing along with “Silly Songs with Larry.”
Overall, Witemeyer has been grateful for everything that has happened with Veggietales Chapel and has felt honored to lead a new ACU Chapel staple.
“VeggieTales Chapel has truly been a great blessing to lead for the past several months,” Witemeyer said. “I am so thankful to McKenna for co-leading it with me and all the encouragement we’ve received from my friends and family, as well as all the students that have enjoyed coming. Without these people, VeggieTales Chapel would not have been possible.”
To follow Larry the Cucumber’s and Bob the Tomato’s next appearances on ACU’s campus, one can follow the Veggietales Chapel Instagram page.