Dr. Hammond inaugurates the new school year with the announcement of new chapel policies as developed this summer by the college’s Spiritual Life Task Force. These include the elimination of Friday convocations and the addition of a third weekly chapel, and students will now be expected to accrue 30 CL&W credits per semester.
While the news of a higher CL&W credit requirement was met with some grumblings, many others stand with the president in strong optimism for this reinvigoration of our chapel services. After all, only this year’s seniors are left who remember a time before pandemic policies restricted chapel attendance and prohibited the student body from joining together in vocal, corporate worship. The new chapel plan reinstates pre-pandemic expectations for a student body which has settled into a more diminished chapel role. Thus, it makes sense that complaints have arisen from seniors, who otherwise would have been exempted from chapel participation during their graduation semester. Others scoff at the notion that forced participation could meaningfully change the spiritual culture on campus.
How fitting then, that for the first chapel address of the year, Dr. Hammond settled upon the theme of ‘Guarding the Good Deposit,’ a phrase taken from 2 Timothy chapter 1. Timothy, who’d received abundant blessings from God (especially through his connection to the ministry of Paul), was not given the option to only passively acknowledge his blessings, but instead was urged to ‘fan into flame the gift of God’. As Paul encouraged Timothy to cherish and keep the blessings he’d received from Christ, Dr. Hammond’s message last Wednesday morning encourages us all (student, faculty, and staff alike) to put aside any hesitations and frustrations and to receive this vision of a vibrant spiritual community as a blessing. For how many gifts have we received that are greater than the invitation to come together as the Body of Christ? What can bring us more joy than the knowledge that as we join to praise our Lord, we know that we are united with the saints who came before us in one great cloud of witnesses, whose glorification of God will last unto an eternity of eternities?
Of course, that isn’t the root of the complaints. Rather there is again the doubt that a chapel requirement will bring about any sort of revival… as the president acknowledged, attendance for the sake of fulfilling credit cannot be the goal of our campus. Rather, we ought to receive the new policies as a fresh start, a chance for Gordon College to stand tall and display to the world our commitment to real community together, to be proud to say that even if no credits were required of us, still we would pack the pews every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Because, as Dr. Hammond said, “chapel is not what makes us a Christian college, chapel is evidence of our love for each other and our love for Jesus Christ.” And how sweet it was to see last Wednesday the chapel brimming at capacity, with students, faculty, and staff joined together, celebrating the hopes of a new year.
It may be that we will feel chapel has become another burden upon our busy schedules, but maybe we have been entrusted with a good deposit, an opportunity to shrug off the past two years of disjointed community in exchange for a campus full of love for each other and for Christ, where even classes pale in value next to a shared spiritual life, with worship as our center. Maybe Gordon College will become known across the country as a school built upon worship, where every student and worker yearns for the sound of the bell to call us once more to the chapel.
Categories: Student Life