A Worshiping Community of Grace
One of the ways we describe Covenant Seminary is “a worshiping community of grace.” Worship is foundational in the lives of God’s people. In my inaugural address as president, I presented Covenant Seminary as a place that seeks to do theological education that is “doxological, transformational, and kingdom-missional.” While living our lives before the face of God takes place in all that we do, it is also important to gather as a community for specific corporate expressions of worship.
Chapel is the time and place we gather during the regular school schedule to experience a convergence of the means of grace in the life of the seminary community. We gather to glorify God together, be transformed into greater Christ-likeness, and to encourage one another in our mission of preparing and becoming pastors and leaders in God’s church and Kingdom. We are reminded of who we are and why we are here. We regain perspective on doing theology and ministry preparation in a doxological mode.
The Challenge of Regular Chapel Attendance
For some time now, chapel has not reflected this desired sense of the whole community coming together to worship God and be renewed in our vocational task at Covenant Seminary. As one who has attended every chapel for the past 19 years, when I have been in town, I can say on behalf of regular attenders that chapel has been well planned and meaningfully carried out to the glory of God and the edification of those who attend. Those who have led us have done a faithful and commendable job. Yet, I have longed for more of the seminary community to be present.
There are many good and valid reasons why people don’t attend chapel regularly, and I affirm the reality of that dynamic. It is not easy to establish a pattern of attending chapel in our weekly schedules, and even once we have the habit it is easy to get out of the habit with other pressing matters that are truly important. We have had many discussions, focus groups, and surveys to try to discern how to overcome the challenge of people not attending chapel. In June of this year, we held a cross-departmental meeting to assess chapel and determine the best way forward
A New Paradigm for a New School Year
We are pleased to announce a new way forward and issue a renewed call for the whole seminary community to join together each week for a 30-minute Community Chapel Service from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. each Friday. We will close all offices and departments from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. each Friday, as well as the library front desk and café food service in the Community Center. We will no longer have regular chapel services on Tuesdays, though there will be occasional special services and events in that timeframe, such as Convocation at the beginning of the school year. Let’s all rally together and make it a high priority to regularly gather each Friday morning!
We also have decided that we need more opportunities to gather for morning prayer several times each week as we seek the Lord together and ask for his favor, wisdom, strength, and guidance in our missional task of preparing impactful gospel leaders for God’s church and kingdom
Starting the first week of classes this fall, we will have a 15-minute daily prayer service on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings from 8 to 8:20 a.m. in Founders 341. These will be brief services of prayer, Scripture reading, and song led by students, faculty, and staff. Whether 2-3 people are there or 50+ people are there, we believe this will be an important time of interceding on behalf of the seminary community by crying out to the Lord and offering ourselves to him as living sacrifices.
In this season of many important changes at Covenant Seminary, we believe it is critical to look to the Lord together with greater intentionality and humble reliance upon our great God. Please join us in doing so!