At Oklahoma Christian University, chapel time is scheduled into each student’s day. In addition to Daily Chapel, alternative chapels meet in smaller groups throughout the semester. Safe at Home chapel is one of the many options. This academic year marks the sixth anniversary of SAH Chapel.
Students like senior Kellen Welch have regularly attended SAH Chapel during their time at Oklahoma Christian.
“Safe at Home quickly became my favorite chapel and one of the few I make it a point to attend regularly,” Welch said.
Welch said she found a community within the chapel where she felt she could be herself.
“Safe at Home gave me a space every week where I could feel safe and like I wasn’t alone,” Welch said. “It helped me connect with other LGBTQ+ people on campus as well as allies, and it made me realize there was light at the end of the tunnel.”
SAH Chapel began with a small group of students, including Abigael Williams, led by alumnus Logan Hester.
“It used to start with reading a kids book out loud and then it was just the tiniest discussion group,” Williams said. “Now it’s grown, and there are many leaders and so many more attendees.”
The future of SAH Chapel is something Welch says can be so much greater than a 20-minute time span.
“Having a permanent safe space would go so far toward counteracting that,” Welch said. “I would also love to be able to do Safe at Home-led service projects and on-campus events.”
Leadership from Chris Rosser, professor of library science, has helped keep the SAH Chapel going.
“He took Landon’s tiny chapel and grew it into something much bigger, better and more inclusive and truly created a safe space for all students, especially for the LGBTQ+ students,” Williams said.
Rosser has been able to provide guidance as well as a community and home to students like Welch.
“Rosser and the other Safe at Home coordinators have done so much to help myself and other LGBTQ+ students at OC,” Welch said. “Rosser radiates empathy and kindness, and he’s always made it a point to ‘love thy neighbor’.”
Williams said she has seen it grow dramatically from where the chapel began.
“I hope that it gets bigger and can jump start other LGBTQ+ organizations on campus, because Oklahoma Christian cannot be home until everyone is safe and welcomed,” Williams said.
Welch said she feels SAH Chapel reaching a sixth year is a huge milestone for the Oklahoma Christian campus community.
“In so many ways it’s still a young chapel, but it’s become such a cornerstone of spirituality here,” Welch said. “Having an established chapel to discuss gender and sexuality makes me feel like there’s a space for me at Oklahoma Christian.”
SAH Chapel continues to meet in the Mabee Learning Center room 308 every Thursday at 11 a.m. with a seventh anniversary in sight as it carries out its mission.