While returning to in-person Chapel after two years of the pandemic was exciting for students, they soon remembered what they had been missing. Many students, including commuters and residents alike, have found themselves running into logistics problems like work or class schedules and parking, leaving them wondering if alternative chapel is a better option for them.
Alternative Chapel, or online chapel, is a modern solution to connect Lancers who can not attend regular chapel on Tuesdays. If students have a class or work schedule conflict, commuting requirement or a personal or family obligation they may be eligible for the online program, according to the CBU website.
The online program accommodates a wide range of students by allowing them to watch from their homes, but it comes at the cost of the traditional method.
Lancers now must contemplate the effects of in-person Chapel and weigh them against the accommodative, but virtual program. Do the benefits of attending Chapel in person outweigh the disadvantages?
Mikayla Williams, senior communications studies major and singer on the Chapel worship team, said that, for her, the benefits of attending Chapel in person come from the interactions you can have with your peers, as well as the added peer pressure to pay attention when you are in a group.
“In regular Chapel, you are able to engage more in person,” Williams said. “Whether you’re regularly attending or just listening to the speaker or the singers on stage, you’re able just to have a little bit more engagement with everybody and probably pay attention a bit more because you’ve got people around you that are watching and keeping you more accountable. Also, when you’re in person, watching the speakers, you get to read their body language and just see who they are a bit better when compared to watching them online.”
Brett Vowell, director of Chapel, said that while there are still some difficulties with in-person chapel, he wants everyone to know that the Chapel team and those in charge are working on solutions.
Regarding the problems with the attendance policy and parking troubles, Vowell said that going back to an in-person [Chapel] transition would be challenging considering how much CBU ‘s student population has changed. Those that last experienced in-person Chapel before it transitioned to online were only freshman.
Due to chapel’s online status for the past few years, Vowell said that CBU is still learning and growing to fit what students need and want, but it will only continue to improve.
“[We’re] just learning the differences and the changes, and Chapel will continue to change and have some variations coming around, so we’ll just continue to do our best to communicate those,” Vowell said.
Ian Bell, senior applied theology major, said that the open communication around alternative and in-person Chapel is essential, as it encourages students to continue speaking up about concerns around Chapel.
With time, the debate could lead to fundamental changes within the way that Chapel operates, including the availability and offering of different services, as many other Christian campuses, such as Biola University, offer.
Williams suggests that to help students with the chapel routine, CBU should switch up the chapel format slightly to give variation to their students and keep the message of Chapel the same, but with a different design to keepstudents engaged.
“In the past, they’ve done more of a forum-type setting, where they have a panel of different speakers, and they’ll go around and have more of a conversation of a subject, whatever the topic is,” Williams said. “I think that’s a nice way to break things up, so you’re not just being talked all out.”
While in-person Chapel still has some kinks to work out through the transition, the team behind Chapel is working diligently to resolve these issues, and things will continue to change as the semester progresses.