On Friday, Feb. 4, Oklahoma Christian University Dean of Students, Neil Arter, emailed students about upcoming changes to the chapel system. Big Chapel in Baugh Auditorium will begin on Monday, Feb. 7, and will be held weekly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. An overflow room will be available in Judd Theater for students who are uncomfortable with large crowds.
In his email, Arter said the transition to a new chapel system would challenge the campus.
“From the pandemic, to changes in the Ethos program, to the multiple opinions that are expressed in multiple venues, this is a difficult time,” Arter said.
Over the past two years, the chapel system has undergone changes almost every semester, primarily due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. From fall 2020 to spring 2021, Big Chapel did not meet, replaced instead by breakout chapels and virtual Ethos opportunities. In fall 2021, Big Chapel resumed, meeting on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while breakout chapels met for credit on Thursdays and Fridays.
“This semester will be unlike any semester before it and unlike any semester that follows, and we will work through it,” Arter said.
Breakout chapels will no longer count toward students’ required chapel credit (as per President John deSteiguer’s announcement in December 2021) with the exception of View 63, a weekly worship chapel held on Mondays at 10 p.m. in Scott Chapel.
Senior Mikayla McKinzie has been involved with View 63, which is entirely student-led, since her freshman year. McKinzie said View 63 is a good opportunity for students who prefer to worship through singing.
“View impacts its students in such a positive way,” McKinzie said. “It’s an outlet for those who don’t get that kind of worship experience elsewhere.”
McKinzie estimates an average of 80-100 students come to View 63 each week, although on some weeks the chapel had up to 200 attendees.
“We know students love that 30 minutes to an hour on Monday nights, and we wanted that to still be an option,” McKinzie said. “It brings me such joy to hear all the wonderful praise happening behind us.”
Although other breakout chapels will no longer count toward students’ chapel requirement, some community groups plan to meet during the 11 a.m. slot on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning on Feb. 15. Arter said students could expect further announcements regarding these opportunities from their organizers.
Shortly after the cancellation of small chapels in December, a petition to bring back small chapels garnered over 1,800 signatures. In the months since then, the University created a small chapel task force to address the issue.
Although students will not be able to earn Ethos credit for breakout chapels, junior Jadyn Carter said the 11 a.m. time on Tuesdays and Thursdays gives students an opportunity to meet with community groups.
“They (the University) are really trying their best,” Carter said. “I think they finally listened to us, and they’re giving us what we want.”
In addition to changes to the weekly schedule, the number of chapel credits students are required to earn was reduced to 15 for the spring semester. In fall 2021, the chapel requirement was 45 credits. Arter said there would be no “exceptions or reductions to the chapel expectation.”
Carter said she was appreciative of the reduction because she often works during the 11 a.m. chapel time.
“I’m thankful we don’t have to get as many,” Carter said. “I don’t think that will take away any of my spiritual growth.”
The first chapel of the semester on Feb. 7 will feature an introduction to Cheryl Brown Henderson, this year’s History Speaks guest.
Arter encouraged students who have questions about chapel to email him at email@example.com.