June 13, 2024

California Baptist University held in-person Chapel for the first time in more than two years on Sept. 6.

Hoards of students flooded into the Events Center. While this event was met primarily with excitement and hope for a return to normal, returning to in-person Chapel has opened up the possibility for conversations concerning the future. While many students viewed this return to normality as a step in the right direction, for others, it appears to be a step backward.

During COVID-19, the world came to a screeching halt, and everything — work, school and church — morphed into an online format, keeping everyone safe. But as COVID numbers are finally dwindling, more and more businesses and venues are resuming their pre-COVID activities. While this may seem like a dream come true for the majority of CBU students eager to return to normal in all facets of life, for others, this is a downgrade from the benefits and ease of online chapel.

Chapel should still be offered online, not only in the form of an alternative Chapel, but for everyone, regardless of their schedule conflicts or reasons for not wanting to attend. Other than those with conflicting schedules, online Chapel should be offered for commuters who might not have classes on Tuesdays, those with social anxiety who cannot handle large crowds, those with disabilities and those with illnesses, both chronic and with cases of COVID.

If opportunities for alternative Chapel were expanded, students could have the freedom to choose how they wish to walk with God rather than be obligated to be in a situation where they might not feel comfortable. Expanded access to Chapel would help those who want to be in person by cutting down on the traffic on Chapel mornings, and it would help those who do not wish to worship in person.

The common argument against having Chapel offered online is that people will not pay as much attention compared to in person. However, I believe those who would not be paying attention during online Chapel would pay no more attention in person.

Chapel is personal, and while it does provide a group setting for devotion to God, an online and at-home Chapel could do the same thing but be more accessible and productive for many of CBU’s students.

Although Chapel is an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and to grow deeper in faith, it can be challenging for others. Some are unsure of their faith, and being thrust into a group devotion setting can be overwhelming and prompt some students to pull away due to the potential stress of this activity.

While we are at a Christian school and Chapel attendance is expected, the format in which Chapel is offered does not require being in person. And those of you reading this and nodding along, speak up. Stand with me, and tell the school to let us have the option to attend Chapel online and make a change.

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