Thursday, October 28

Chapel Redesign Moves Services Across Campus, Online for Spring 2021 Semester

Trevecca chapel is back to meeting in-person this semester and requirements and fines will be enforced again.

After a semester of no required attendance and all virtual chapels, a return to previous chapel plans and requirements is underway.  Students will be required to wear masks and socially distance and the number of required chapels is 14 this semester, instead of the usual 24.

Online viewing was down last semester when attendance wasn’t a requirement, so a shift back to mandatory chapel credits is necessary to get students to engage with the content on a regular basis, University Chaplain Erik Gernand said. 

With more than 24 options for attendance this semester, Worship & Witness chapels will be held Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. in Boone Convocation, Benson Auditorium, Wakefield Auditorium and Zelma Auditorium, all with a live student worship leader and a testimonial video message from a faculty or staff member. 

Study Day Chapels will take place at 9:30 a.m. on the various study days throughout the semester in Boone, including live worship as well as a live message from Gernand.

For students who are remote, commuting, or just don’t feel comfortable with in-person options yet, chapel credit can also be obtained by watching through the new app, iattended, up to a week afterwards and answering a few brief questions about the message.

“We’ve got faculty members who get to talk about their personal testimony and how their relationship with Jesus impacts how they engage in their field of study. Students will hear stories from their professors that they’ve never heard before and I thought that would be an interesting journey for us to go on as a community,” Gernand said. 

Early feedback is already pouring in from students who find the variety of options for attendance helpful.

 “In comparison to years past, I think the stress about chapel has decreased in students just because there are a variety of options and it feels much more relaxed in general. A lot of students say they like this better than being all together in Boone because it feels more intimate and they can choose the location that’s closest to where they need to be,” said Kaitlyn Keppinger, ASB chaplain. “I think it’s highly possible that we’ll continue doing this, even if it’s once a week where we do a small-group setting, in the future,” 

Ashley Forman, a sophomore Intercultural studies major and chapel usher, echoes that a major highlight to this change is the intimate feel to small-group gatherings.

 “Even though it’s different, I think it’s a good solution. It was really intimate and it felt like the Spirit was really moving,” Forman said.

With the limited impact of virtual options, Spiritual Deepening Week will also look different this semester. Scheduled for the first week of February, without the option to bring in an outside speaker as normal,  Gernand will use the week to do a series on the context surrounding this semester’s chapel theme verse, Acts 1:8, and what it means to be a witness. 

“It’s ended up being something of a gift for me in giving us some freedom for creativity in chapel. I know I wouldn’t have tried 90 percent of the things we’ve tried this year if everything had been normal, but now I think we’ve learned some neat things that we can probably build into next year,” Gernand said. 

Still, he is more than ready to return to large-group gatherings and looking forward to the fall bringing back opportunities to worship together with the entire student body. 

“I’m anxious to get back into a big group. As a community, we miss the anchor point of a majority of our population going on a journey together with shared experience.”

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