Everyone knows that this fall Malone is implementing a different chapel schedule. But how much is really known about these changes? Why were they made? Who established the new schedule? And how will it affect the students at Malone?
Linda Leon, Malone’s Director of Spiritual Formation, had a lot to say about the changes being made to chapel and what the Office of Spiritual
Formation hopes to achieve by making them.
In addition to the Tuesday and Wednesday chapels, this fall chapels will be offered on Fridays and a few evenings during the semester as well. Each chapel during the week will have a different style and focus: “community worship” featuring sermon and song, “convocation” which includes various artistic performances and guest speakers, and “spiritual formation” focusing on the practice of spiritual disciplines.
The process that brought about these changes to chapel began last year. Leon, who is working on her doctorate thesis, chose to focus on the ways in which chapel could be changed to better benefit the spiritual lives of students. She conducted surveys, set up a dozen focus groups among Malone faculty members, and studied Malone’s sister institutes and the way their chapels were done. She found a recurring theme: option. “We found that students like diversity and choices. You might jell with a different formation,” Leon said.
In an effort to provide students with more options, chapel was changed from twice to three times a week. This gives students 42 chapels in a semester instead of the previous 27 to choose from.
The next change was in establishing different themes for each day. This gives students the chance to explore the different types and choose which day or days work best for them at their current level of spiritual maturity. The hope is that students will explore all their options before making a decision about which chapels to attend; the Office of Spiritual Formation wants all students to grow in the Lord during their time at Malone and wish for them to take full advantage of the changes in chapel in order to do that.
Randy Heckert, the University Chaplain, said in chapel that “Spiritual disciplines help us in the pursuit of slow, quiet, and deep,” something he wants us to strive for in our spiritual lives. Heckert also stressed the importance of “being with Jesus to learn from him how to be like him.”
Even though more chapels are being offered, the reasons for chapel excuses will remain the same. However, with the extra chapels on Fridays and some evenings, it is hoped that students will attend as many as possible even if they are not required to attend twenty. The purpose of going to chapel should not be just to check off the required number and be done, but to choose chapels to attend which will promote one’s own spiritual growth.
The Office of Spiritual Development admits that not all parts of the new chapel schedule will agree with all students. Leon asks for feedback, good or bad, from anyone on campus. “I’m expecting and I welcome feedback. It helps us know what to change.”
In summary Leon said, “We are trying to be more intentional in focusing on students’ spiritual formation. We care deeply about students and want them to know that God is the object and subject of our worship. This is the ministry where we are pouring in everything we have to show that.”
Kaitlyn Stump is a staff writer for The Aviso AVW.