Chapel introduces online platform

Photo Illustration by Alex Iannone | Banner | A student sits alone in the lecture hall to watch the third online Chapel video of the semester.

The start of the Fall 2020 Chapel looked a little different than past years. Instead of students filing into the Events Center to attend their required Chapel service, pre-recorded services were uploaded to Blackboard.

With California Baptist University’s classes moving online because of statewide COVID-19 restrictions, CBU’s weekly Chapel has also had to restructure the program to be accessible online.

While Chapel will continue to occur almost every Tuesday and Thursday, students now have the option to complete online Chapel anytime within a seven-day period, allowing for more flexibility and accommodations with the format of online classes. However, just like the previous in-person Chapel experience, 18 services will be available, with students required to complete 15 to receive credit.

Brett Vowell, director of Chapel, said this transition to an online format has taken adjustment and preparation.

“It has been a challenging but exciting transition,” Vowell said. “While there is less energy spent in building a stage and setting up chairs each week, the interactive videos require a large amount of time, energy and planning in order to produce the final product that is made available to students through Blackboard.”

Vowell described how the software that the online Chapel is posted through is able to track student’s interaction with the chapel services in order to give them credit. He also emphasized the many ways that students can get the most out of these videos.

“We have gathered some of our favorite Chapel Speakers from over the years to address our CBU Family in this unique season,” Vowell said. “The speakers have purposely divided their teaching times into 3 eight-minute segments in order to make what they are sharing even more retainable, then the interactive prompts that cause you to stop, reflect, and process what you are hearing has the ability to make your Chapel experience even more meaningful.”

Another major change that has been made to the Fall 2020 chapel has to do with the layout of CBU’s chapel worship team. At the start of the semester, they announced the start of a new CBU leadership team for worship called Purpose Worship. The worship segments of the online chapel will be pre-recorded by the team made up of 21 individuals.

Aaron Carrillo, sophomore electrical and computer engineering major, plays the drums for the CBU worship team and described how this transition to online has specifically impacted worship structure and went into detail about how Purpose Worship was designed.

“Purpose Worship is the new formal identity of the chapel worship team at CBU,” Carrillo said. “The name exemplifies our values and goals as a team, one of which is to engage the CBU community in biblical Christ-centered worship throughout the school year. Worshipping God is always essential, but even more so during the challenges of this season.”

Carrillo also said that one of the other major changes has involved the set up for recording chapel services.

“Worship sessions are pre-recorded,” Carillo said. “So far, we have had to record multiple chapels per session, and the plan is to keep up that pace since a lot of time is needed to ensure the best quality sound and visuals are prevalent during the post-production phase.”

Elizabeth Pryor, senior psychology student, said that the new format for chapel has worked well, especially with other classes being online this year.

“I like how I have a week to complete the chapel requirement because this has allowed a lot of flexibility with my schedule this year,” Pryor said. “With classes being online this year it’s nice that CBU has also made chapel available on Blackboard with my other courses.”

Carrillo agreed that this is one of the most important elements of online chapel services.

“The benefits of an online chapel for everybody is the flexibility to conveniently submerse oneself in scripture and participate in worship without distractions at the most fitting time in a given day,” Carrillo said.

Brett Vowell said that this new form of the online chapel has also allowed for a new type of student engagement with services.

“Adjoining each interactive video our staff is working to provide additional resources and opportunities to ‘go deeper’ into what is being presented and shared in the video by the Chapel Speaker or Spiritual Life staff,” Vowell said. “This will range from recommended books, articles, websites and podcasts to other online resources that will help you apply what you are learning in each Online Chapel.”

CBU chapel services are available to students on Blackboard for credit but these videos will also be posted on the California Baptist University website for staff, faculty and others interested to watch.

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