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Same service, different styles

New campus pastor Jon Cavanagh seeks to make chapel services more inclusive

By Cassidy Grom | Echo

Campus Pastor Jon Cavanagh plans to make this year’s and future chapel services more diverse and inclusive for students of racial minorities, ethnic backgrounds and various denominations.

“If you like every chapel, if every chapel is comfortable, then I don’t think we are doing our job,” said Cavanagh.

The newly-appointed campus pastor hopes to invite more individual musicians to play alongside the soon-to-be-established worship bands to normalize the inclusion of different styles of worship.

Cavanagh recognizes that the Media Services employees setting up for the bands need some level of consistency, but he desires to work with several musicians to reach a broader audience. Cavanagh compared his goals of the new worship style to local eatery Payne’s, which is known for its ever-changing décor. The substance of the services will be the same, but it will be presented in a new and different manner.

Djamina Esperance, a senior who spent 17 years of her life in Haiti, says she misses the energetic worship services from back home.

“I love that people can get up, dance, clap and no one will think that they are crazy,” she said. “I definitely miss that part when I am here at Taylor.”

Esperance hopes international students will form chapel bands and audition to lead worship.

Cavanagh hopes to include everyone in chapel services. Photo: Jim Garringer.

Cavanagh hopes to include everyone in chapel services. Photo: Jim Garringer.

Felicia Case, director of Intercultural Programs, estimated that between 11 and 14 percent of students on Taylor’s campus come from diverse backgrounds. This percentage includes international students, missionary kids, Americans who grew up abroad and racial minorities. According to Case, this percentage has increased by anywhere between 5 and 8 percent since she began working at Taylor in 1995.

Not only does Cavanagh desire to diversify the praise and worship portion of the services, he also hopes to invite speakers from a variety of backgrounds.

“Without trying, if we are not careful, we get a lot of white males that are pastors (to speak),” Cavanagh said.

“It was good to hear from women (last year),” Case said. “I think a lot of the women on campus were glad to hear from women.”

Cavanagh is working with technology specialists to create an online form where anyone can submit recommendations for chapel speakers. The information listed on the form will be submitted directly to Cavanagh and the members of the Community Life Committee, which is comprised of students and faculty. Together, he and the committee will evaluate potential speakers.

Diversity is one of the seven guiding principles of the chapel program. Because Taylor is nondenominational, Cavanagh is faced with the challenge of including a spectrum of evangelical practices ranging from Southern Baptist to Roman Catholic.

Band and ministry of the arts auditions are Sunday, Sept. 13 and Sunday, Sept. 20 from 7 to 11 p.m. Interested groups must sign up by today in Reade just inside the west doors.

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