A look inside Waynesburg University Chapel

With the 2024 spring semester kicking into gear at Waynesburg University, the campus ministry staff and student leaders have been planning and preparing for the campus chapel services.

University Chaplin Josh Sumpter said that one of his biggest goals in planning for the semester is “…to make sure that students are exposed to as many people as possible that point them to Christ.” In addition, he said his hope and prayer is that students will be open to coming to chapel and engage with the opportunities available on campus.

Regarding the role of chapel on campus, Sumpter said, “I think chapel should always be first a call for us to know God and see God together and to do it with one another.”

Sumpter said when planning the services for the semester, he and his team block three to four weeks for individual teaching series “so that there’s a similar theme students are being exposed to,” Sumpter said. For the spring semester, he stated that the overarching theme of chapel is God’s faithfulness. He said that, due to 2024 being the 175th anniversary of Waynesburg University, he focused on bringing in speakers who can attest to God’s faithfulness.

In addition, Sumpter stated that through the month of February, it is his intent to focus on diverse voices to honor Black History Month.

For students who might want to be more involved, Sumpter listed chapel prayer, chapel band, scripture reading and art sharing as ways they can interact with Roberts Chapel. He said he would love to meet students who are interested and help them share their passions, as it presents an opportunity to grow in faith and shape what the program looks like.

He said, “We are blessed to have students that are strong in their faith, who know the Bible, that want to grow and that have gifts that they want to share such as musical abilities and talents. So, it’s really just trusting, and inviting and sharing that space so that they can use their gifts.”

Two of these students, Ross Owens and Rachel Redinger, shared their experiences serving at chapel.

Owens, who is a Biblical Ministry Studies major, spoke about his time preaching at chapel. He said, “It’s an honor to get to share in front of my peers.” He added that “Sumpter has always given students an opportunity to get up on the stage.”

For Owens’ most recent sermon, he said Sumpter gave him the scriptures to teach, but he had free reign to assemble his teaching how he chose.

Regarding this process, Owens said, “I had really felt strongly that God had given me something to share, and that night Sumpter reached out to me about sharing it.”

For students looking to potentially share at chapel, Owens emphasized the importance of internalizing the message being preached before preaching it to others. He said his goal was “…not preaching from a place of arrival,” but rather preaching as someone on the journey with his audience.

Owens said for students looking specifically to share, “It really does come back to Mathew 6:33, Seek first the Kingdom and all this will be added.” Owens finished by saying, “The Bible instructs us not to boast on what we’ve done, but what the Lord has done through us.”

Rachel Redinger, a Public History major and worship team leader, also shared her experience of serving at chapel.

Redinger, who has been singing at chapel for the past three years, said she began singing in her freshman year of college. She said her singing instructor, Director of the Chapel Band Melanie Catana, encouraged her to join the worship team.

Redinger, who currently leads worship team 2, said that to plan each week’s service, the team leaders and assistants meet with Catana once a week to pray and discuss songs. The team also discusses special events, such as choir performances or worship band exclusive songs.

In addition, she said she works with her team to choose which songs to add and drop from the roster. Redinger said she feels that God puts songs in her head for her to pick them. Redinger said, “I always pray that God will be in the meeting and that it will just be a symphony.”

The teams then host a rehearsal on Monday to run through the chosen songs for the chapel service.

Every Thursday, the teams meet for a group devotion and prayer before practicing each song. Redinger explained that preparing for chapel “…is a lot more than people think.”

To new singers interested in performing at Roberts Chapel, Redinger said, “We’re always so happy to welcome new people to the team.” She also suggested starting out with a voice lesson to get comfortable. Redinger said that it’s important, even on bad days, to remember the purpose of singing worship.

Regarding the intention of chapel, Chaplin Sumpter said, “…yes we want to grow in Christ, but in everything we do, whether its speaking,

 or singing or who’s leading the prayer; in all of those realms of what chapel is, I hope it brings glory and honor to God.”