Accompanying the change of chapel schedules and requirements has come a fresh expression of student complaints in regards to chapel. In a recent anonymous poll (see table below for results), most students expressed a satisfaction with the general structure of chapel. However, there are still significant levels of dissatisfaction in some regards.
More specifically, 18 percent of students polled responded with a “strongly disagree” that their schedule allowed them to complete their required chapel credits and an additional 24 percent responded with a “disagree”. Likewise, while the largest percentage polled about the variety of chapel bands reported satisfaction (41 percent), 31 percent expressed dissatisfaction from “disagree to strongly disagree”.
On the other hand, one third of students polled are happier with the new schedule than last year’s and they agreed almost unanimously that chapel electives are just as fulfilling as the regular chapel services.
There are fifteen chapel credits required per semester, ten of which must be from the main Tuesday morning or Wednesday evening services. Five of these credits may be earned through elective chapel services.
Sophomore Keaton Dieter spends his Wednesday evenings during chapel volunteering at the Newberg Foursquare Church’s youth group and has been given a waiver allowing him to fulfill ten of his chapel requirements through online podcasts of services.
“As far as [being able to hear] speakers, I would still be able to listen to podcasts for those speakers,” Dieter explained, “…one thing I have run into is that oftentimes they are very far behind in posting speakers. I go online wanting to hear the sermon from last night, but I can’t so then I’m just like, I won’t do anything and get behind.”
More importantly, Dieter said that podcasts, “change the atmosphere of the chapel experience because you don’t have the worship, and you’re not sitting in the room as the message is being said and God is speaking through them in that moment… But content-wise you still get everything you would get.”
University Pastor Jamie Noling-Auth sees chapel as “a class” in which students learn the value and meaning of worship in the broader sense. As she put it, “We are coming together as a community to worship together… The university absolutely believes in the importance of the understanding of worship.”
While acknowledging that there are still a few classes that exist during the chapel hour, particularly in the morning, Noling-Auth also said that the shift of time from last year’s schedule contributes to the situation and that the “academic side” of the university’s schedule creation has really put an effort into “protecting that chapel hour.”
Noling-Auth believes wholeheartedly in the importance of chapel being a part of students’ routines. “Sometimes that routine gets exhausting,” she said, but also, “We don’t want students to get out of chapel. We tell them about [chapel requirements] before they get here… One of the things we see over and over again is that graduates talk about the benefits of the rhythm and routine of chapel.”
In regards to students who would prefer more variety in speakers and worship at evening chapel services, Noling-Auth said that she understood that desire but that, “I really like it as a campus pastor. We are able to utilize them throughout the day in classes when they come in the mornings.”
In the evenings “students like to stay around and worship together and think about the scriptures they have just heard [evening chapels emphasize scripture based teaching]… without the rush to get to a next class.”
The reason chapel is required?
“GFU is a Christian university and there a number of things that are privileges that we get. And one of those is chapel. A time for the community to come to gather and worship. One of the main things we want to contribute to the world is people who understand worship. But it’s also a classroom, chapel is praxis. We are able to share in experiential learning. That’s why every student has to fulfill the chapel requirement.”
Neither Agree Nor Disagree
1. I normally have no problem with my schedule in allowing me to receive the chapel credit that I need to
2. I get to hear the chapel speakers that I would like to.
3. If I need to, I will receive a sufficient waiver for chapel credit.
4. I prefer the Tuesday and Wednesday chapel schedule to two chapels on Wednesdays.
5. Elective chapels are just as fulfilling as regular chapel.
6. I think the level of variety in chapel bands is appropriate.