Safe at Home chapel at Oklahoma Christian University provides a safe space for conversations about gender, sexuality and the church by providing a feeling of being “safe at home” for students.
Theological Librarian Chris Rosser is one of 11 SAH coordinators at Oklahoma Christian. Rosser said the coordinators strive to “foster a generously hospitable campus culture.”
Created as an outlet to talk about gender, sexuality and faith, SAH strives to generate a spirit of love. According to Romans 13:10, “love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is keeping of the law.” Rosser said godly love obligates us to “deeply care for all regardless of doctrinal assumptions.” According to Rosser, SAH exists as space aimed to empower students who may feel unsafe.
“The goal of the coordinators is to provide a theologically informed ethic by which students learn to navigate complexity, guided primarily by an orientation toward love for one’s neighbor,” Rosser said. “Questions of sexuality, gender and church have not become as politicized on our campus as on other campuses, and we believe the existence of SAH and the gentle, behind-the-scenes work of the coordinators and others as well, increases students’ experience of OC as home and provides an avenue for loving and respectful discourse.”
Through SAH, Rosser said he has witnessed growth from students, faculty and staff on the Oklahoma Christian campus.
Senior Eric Oliver said SAH is a safe place to talk about tough topics such as sexual abuse, gender/sexual identity and the general mistreatment of individuals. Oliver said the most uplifting experience was after he talked about his life experiences with the SAH audience.
“After I spoke, I got several emails from faculty or words of thanks from students in the halls,” Oliver said. “It was stressful but encouraging experience because it made it feel as though I was doing good by sharing my story.”
Oliver said he has attended SAH since his junior year and would highly recommend this chapel.
“SAH is a place that offers a safe place for students and faculty to be authentically themselves while simultaneously providing intense but important conversations,” Oliver said.
Sophomore Dani Maniguet shared similar experiences from SAH and said now she “wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Maniguet did not know about breakout chapels prior to SAH, but she said the smaller group opens up an opportunity for people to dig deeper into the theology of a text.
Maniguet said her most uplifting experience was after her friend, sophomore Brendan McKinley, talked about authenticity and the need to have open conversations about our gender identity and sexuality at one SAH chapel.
“He explained that in order for us to be loved by others in a more complete way, we need to be vulnerable and honest about who we are,” Maniguet said. “This is why God’s love for us is complete and perfect. [McKinley talked a lot about] what it looks like to spread and receive God’s love through his talk.”
Although the chapel might appear to focus on the LGBTQ audience, Maniguet said she would recommend SAH to all people.
“[People] can engage in an opportunity to listen to firsthand testimonies of [minorities] who have been burned by the majority,” Maniguet said. “The majority may gain insight into how they can better educate themselves for the next time they encounter someone who is queer and how to love them in the most godly way possible.”