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The puzzle pieces of chapel

Behind chapel doors

Prayer is an essential part of both the chapel planning process and chapel services. (Photograph provided by Jim Garringer)

Prayer is an essential part of both the chapel planning process and chapel services. (Photograph provided by Jim Garringer)

By Becca Eis | Echo

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning, the Taylor campus witnesses the droves of Taylor students congregating to the LaRita Boren Campus Center to the chiming of bells on their way to chapel.

Even though chapel attendance is expected not required almost every gathering fills Rediger Chapel Auditorium to the brim with students, faculty and staff seeking truth. But what students might not know is hours of planning go into each service.

Campus Pastor Jon Cavanagh, Campus Ministries Graduate Assistant Wynn Coggin and the student chapel coordinators adhere to the guiding principles of corporate worship, scripture engagement, intellectual challenge, whole-person focus, diversity, lifelong practice and collaboration when designing each chapel. Chapel coordinators do everything from interacting with speakers to working with media services, but their main responsibility is to be Cavanagh’s ears in student conversations about chapel, according to Chapel Coordinator and senior Caleb Grubb. This team works to make all the pieces of chapel, including elements such as topics, speakers and music, fit together to form a cohesive whole.

Keeping student perceptions in mind, the team desires chapel to be as relevant and meaningful as possible. One way they are pursuing this is through assigning Coggin to create ways for students to provide meaningful feedback, such as focus groups and five-minute weekly surveys sent out to 40-60 students around campus from varying dorms, majors and classes. The team also encourages students interested in making chapel better to complete the end-of-semester surveys. The questions in these surveys are rooted in chapel’s guiding principles to ensure chapel is meeting its desired objectives.

“When we come together and participate in corporate worship together from a variety of different backgrounds, I’m tremendously humbled by the trust and humility and healthy attitudes that students bring to that and just their willingness to participate. I think, for the most part, students are willing to engage, but I want them to thoughtfully engage,” Cavanagh said.

The team is also in process of creating a chapel blog in hopes of students being more interested in and prepared for chapel. This blog would include the most updated chapel calendar, speaker bios and reflection questions. The hope is that students would walk into chapel knowing what to expect. Another helpful feature of the blog is an online speaker recommendation form.

Holding true to the guiding principles of diversity, intellectual challenge and collaboration, the team works with different departments within the Taylor community to bring in a wide variety of speakers from in and outside the Taylor community. Students, professors, alumni, local pastors, missionaries and scholars join us to speak into our lives. The purpose of this is to cause students to broaden the views they had prior to college and make their faith their own, while staying true to the core beliefs of the Gospel.

“Chapel is going to be hard sometimes,” Grubb said. “Sometimes you might hear a perspective or something that doesn’t sound like what you’re used to, and that’s a great opportunity to learn more about the people around you and learn more about different perspectives on God rather than say ‘That doesn’t sound right,’ and disengage. The point of chapel isn’t to have one person agree with it 100 percent of the time. It’s to give a broad view.”

So, next time you’re headed to chapel, pause for a moment and recognize the intentionality that goes into what you are about to experience.

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