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OPINION: Faculty chapel attendance builds community

By Jean Donaldson

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CHAPEL: Students and faculty alike have something to gain from chapel (Photo provided)

At a recent chapel, I noticed a university faculty member in attendance. This was one of the first times I took specific notice of someone at chapel other than students. It really struck a chord with me. Ever since, I found myself searching the crowd for other members of the campus community.

There are a few faculty members who regularly attend chapel. It is not required or expected of them to do so, but I wonder if the leaders of our school realize how great of a difference their involvement outside of the classroom or office makes — especially in regards to events that students attend like chapel. Because chapel primarily considered to be a student-oriented event, professors are noticed when they make an appearance.

I, however, don’t think chapel is exclusive to the student body. Campus Ministries does a wonderful job at reeling in a diversity of speakers who touch on a plethora of subjects relevant to multitudes of people. Learning and growth that can occur at all life stages, and faculty can gain from these opportunities as well.

According to Dr. Norris Friesen, director of institutional effectiveness, there was once a radical proposition several years ago that faculty be required to attend chapel services — not students. The idea was that students would be encouraged to go simply because their professors did. This exemplifies the positive influence faculty can have on students by attending chapel.

While the extra hour every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday is the perfect time for professors to catch up on emails, record grades or make a well-deserved cup of coffee, it is also a great time for them to strengthen the community that we tout at the university. Their attendance at chapel helps build more connections and makes students seem more real to them and, likewise, the professors more real to the students.

Faculty shouldn’t be expected to adhere to a 30-chapel-a-semester policy. This might tarnish their attendance at chapel and make it seem less genuine. However, a couple chapel services adds up to less than two hours a semester. For the student’s, community’s and even the individual faculty member’s spiritual and social gain, two hours is very little to ask.

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