Student chapel programs enhanced
Beginning fall quarter this year, the chapel programs underwent a facelift to enhance the weekly service. One of the most noticeable changes has been moving chapel from 8:10 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. every Wednesday morning.
“There is a breath of spiritual ‘fresh air’ blowing through the campus,” says Terry Swenson, MDiv, campus chaplain for Loma Linda University.
“It’s coming from our University Chapel program. The moving of the time from 8:00 a.m. to 11:10 a.m. has proved to be very popular with the students, faculty, staff, and administration as evidenced by attendance and participation. We are almost at maximum capacity in the University Church.”
According to Gerald Winslow, PhD, vice president for spiritual life & wholeness, Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, making changes to the chapel program was a conscious effort.
“Chapels erode and become marginalized,” says Dr. Winslow. “LLU decided to accentuate our chapel program by giving it more attention. We made an effort that reflects a deeper commitment to make the spiritual focus central to this campus.”
Mr. Swenson seconds that thought with the idea that the whole approach to chapel this year has changed, from the ground up.
“From the moment you step into the sanctuary, you’ll notice a difference,” he says.
“The lighting, the music, the continuous slides with quotes to bless, comfort, and challenge, the format for the bulletin all blend together to prepare participants to receive a dynamic worship experience.”
The changes for chapel developed out of a chapel task force that was formed.
The task force met during the autumn quarter of 2004. As a result of this work, the task force made 12 recommendations to the chancellor for strengthening the weekly chapel service at LLU.
1. Chancellor as worship leader: While the chapel services would continue to be arranged by the office of the campus chaplain and would include regular participation of our two chaplains, the vice chancellor for spiritual life, and many others, the task force recommended that the chancellor of the University be the regular host of the weekly chapel.
“We believe that this will
signal the significance of chapel service and will provide the chancellor the opportunity to help set the spiritual tone on campus,” the report reads.
2. Presence of faculty and administration: The task force also recommended that the deans and officers of the University plan to attend the weekly chapel and encourage all faculty and staff to do the same. In order to facilitate the widest possible attendance, the report also asked that offices be closed during the hour of chapel.
3. Student attendance: The task force recommended that application of the policy for required chapel attendance be strengthened and made more uniform in all the schools of the University.
4. Information to prospective students and faculty members: The report also recommended that all prospective students and faculty members be informed about the fact that chapel is a regular part of the University’s program, that it is an important value added in the pursuit of Loma Linda University’s distinctive mission, and that it is required of the University’s students.
5. Enhanced promotion of chapel: The task force recommended that efforts to inform the campus about each week’s chapel be increased. Through the use of strategically placed, attractive posters, and other campus media, the task force believed that chapel could be given greater visibility in campus life and that chapel attendance could be increased.
6. Plan for chapel themes: The report requested that a distinctive theme be selected for each quarter’s chapels and that these themes and their associated, specific topics attend to the diversity of spiritual needs and interests on campus.
7. Optimum time for chapel: The task force recommended that the time for chapel be changed to 11:10 a.m. on Wednesday. This change facilitates a number of important improvements, including better timing for speakers’ schedules, opportunity for students and faculty to meet speakers after the service, and increased involvement for some of the University’s schools.
8. Guest speakers: The report applauded the current emphasis on hearing from chapel speakers selected from the University community. It also recommended that major guest speakers from off campus be invited to speak at chapel on an average of about once per month.
9. Music: Also applauded by the report were the recent efforts to improve the quality and diversity of the music at chapel. It was recommended that a diversity of musical styles be part of the chapel service with an emphasis on the quality and dignity of all styles.
10. Supplementary chapel experiences: The task force recognized that it is not possible for some students to be present during the day, and that these students would also benefit from a chapel experience. It was recommended that supplementary chapel experiences be made available in the late afternoon or early evening for students who are only on campus at that time.
11. Chapel committee: A separate standing committee was recommended to serve as the chapel committee, chaired by the vice chancellor for spiritual life, with the plan that this group meet quarterly to plan future chapel programs. This committee’s membership should include students, faculty members, administrators, and others who can assist in the selection of speakers and themes for the chapel services.
12. Chapel budget: To conduct a truly world-class series of chapel services each year will require adequate financial support. It was recommended that the budget for chapel be reviewed and revised as necessary to accomplish the other recommendations in the report.