Even though COVID-19 has necessitated several changes, weekly chapel will once again be back this semester. For the first few weeks of the semester, students will be able to watch the chapel via live stream at 11 a.m. on Tuesdays on www.waynesburg.edu/LIVE. Although chapel will begin the semester entirely in a virtual format, in-person attendance will be phased in starting in February. Like last semester, students will be allowed to pre-register to attend in-person chapel in advance.
“With a limited capacity, we will encourage students to pre-register to attend Chapel. We started doing this at the end of the Fall semester and it worked well,” Chaplain Joshua Sumpter said. “We will start by phasing in 50 students for Chapel and Upper Room in February. To encourage social distancing, blue tape marks seats in the Chapel where students can sit.”
Chapel services will also be broadcast via livestream throughout the semester. According to Joshua Poindexter, a sophomore media ministry major, the chapel team learned how to improve the virtual format, particularly on the technical side of things.
Allison Ramirez, a junior early childhood education and special education major and chapel band leader, said that she also learned about some of the things necessary to make chapel work in a virtual setting, adding that the experience taught her more about worship itself.
“I also think we learned a lot about what it means to truly worship. As a team, we had to evaluate ourselves and the purpose behind our participation on the chapel team,” Ramirez said. “With no in-person attendance, there was no congregation singing along and no applause after we finished a song. It was a humbling experience for sure. We each had to look within our hearts and be reminded of the reason why we worship—simply to glorify God.”
Ramirez said that the virtual format for chapel worked out well. Although there were some issues that needed to be solved, the chapel team was able to sort out the problems.
“Despite those struggles, the Lord continued to remain true and continued to show up,” Ramirez said. “While I was stressing about dividing and rotating my teams in order to adhere to social distancing standards, the Lord was present and reminded me of His constancy in all seasons of life. I believe that chapel went very well last semester, despite the challenges we faced.”
There will be a variety of speakers at chapel this semester, ranging from Dr. Larry Stratton to Coach Sam Jones. According to Poindexter, chapel presents an opportunity to learn from a variety of people.
“I look forward to all chapels, but especially when different faculty members speak,” he said. “As great as it is to learn about a given subject with a professor or learn new skills from coaches, it is great to see why they do what they do.”
In particular, Ramirez is excited to hear Meghan Lauren-Reidy speak on the topic of Lent and what it means to lament.
“I’m looking forward to hearing about her perspective on lamenting because I don’t feel like that is frequently talked about within the church,” Ramirez said. “We are always reminded of the joy we have in the Lord, which is so true, but it’s important to remember that the Lord meets us in our lamenting. I look forward to this conversation.”
Poindexter says that chapel can bring inspiration to students’ lives and can help refocus them spiritually.
“Sometimes we get caught up with only focusing on God one day a week even if we try to do more throughout the week,” Poindexter said. “Chapel is a great supplement for that need during our weeks here at college.”
Ramirez also said that chapel can help students who may be having a difficult week, adding that it can help them refocus after a long Monday, particularly in the context of a global pandemic.
“Tuesdays at 11 are such a great time of the day. After a rough Monday, Tuesday chapel can change your whole perspective on your week. Chapel is a great time to meet the Lord in the beginning of your week and ask Him to continue walking with you throughout your week,” she said. “I hope that chapel live-streams and other online worship services can really touch the hearts of Waynesburg University students and others around the world. We are in scary and difficult times, but we strive for unity in the Lord and we hope chapel services can bring us together, whether online or in-person.”