During the summer of 2011, the Office of Spiritual Formation began research on the student body’s opinions of the previous chapel system and what interests the current generation of students.
“We did a lot of that research to come to the conclusion that having a one size fits all worship context is not reaching you or serving your needs,” said Linda Leon, director of spiritual formation.
“We didn’t get rid of [chapel],” said Tim Longbrake, assistant director of spiritual formation. “It’s really an expansion of what we used to do. Because not everything can be classified as chapel, we called it something different that’s more encompassing of what our programming is.”
In addition to traditional community worship services that returning students may be used to, they can now also attend Celebration, Life Groups, iX (interactive experience), and many other opportunities to receive credit.
Another change is the requirement for nearly all students to attend a minimum of 20 opportunities each semester. Where previously many commuters and other students were exempt due to scheduling or other difficulties, the addition of so many eligible events has led to a more restricted system.
“[Exemptions] still exist; they just aren’t as widespread,” Longbrake said. “Since the Malone experience is so unique in providing spiritual formation as part of education, we didn’t want commuters to miss out on that vital part of their education. We’re engaging the entirety of the community now instead of select students.”
Not all students are happy about the move from chapel to Spiritual Formation Opportunities.
“I don’t really like [the opportunities],” said Naomi Fetzer, a senior nursing major. “I like the way it used to be. It’s very hard to schedule. I like having more consistent times to choose from.”
“I like that more people go to FCA and Celebration, but I feel like some people are going for the wrong reasons,” said Jeff Bell, a sophomore integrated social studies major.
The Office of Spiritual Formation expects the Spiritual Formation Opportunities to change continually as students express their feedback and as they work towards their vision for the program.
“Ultimately the vision is that we want to facilitate a culture of spiritual formation,” Longbrake said. “It’s not one thing you go to; it’s a campus-wide culture of spiritual formation. This is just step one in many, many steps of where we want to go.”