Students Lead, Design Contemporary Chapel Services
With filled pews, chapel services at Alma College have seen a significant increase in popularity in recent years. This year, worship attendance has averaged more than 120 people.
Chaplain Carol Gregg says there are multiple reasons for the increase, including a shift in the type of service offered.
“Ten years ago, we had a traditional Presbyterian service on Sunday mornings, and there were, at most, 10 people present,” she says. “One of the former chaplains introduced a contemporary service and moved it to 9 p.m. It has grown since.”
Alma's student ministry coordinators in the chapel.
In addition, Gregg says those involved work hard to make the chapel a warm, welcoming community, where people can find both friendship and fellowship.
Much of this work is done by student ministry coordinators, who, with Gregg’s guidance, lead and design the services. These students develop a schedule for speakers, play in the band, and coordinate refreshments, among other responsibilities.
With three times as many applicants as student ministry coordinator positions this year, chapel services clearly have an appeal.
“The music, style and format all resonate with young adults,” says Gregg. “Students are spiritual beings who are looking for ways to express that spirituality. This is one way to do that.”
For Student Ministry Coordinator Caitlin Closs, being involved with the chapel has been a great experience.
“The chapel community is special,” she says. “I love the fact that we come from all over campus. If you’re involved in any other organizations, you know someone from chapel will be there, too. Everyone is really close.”
Chaplain Carol Gregg (front row, far left) and students helped build a Habitat for Humanity home as an Alternative Break project.
Highly involved in her youth group back home, Closs, a Colorado sophomore, knew she wanted to pursue similar leadership roles at Alma College. Her dedication has paid off.
“I’ve learned a lot in the past year, especially when it comes to working with a team,” she says. “Everyone has a different perspective, and we all have separate things we’re working on. But seeing how it all comes together as a cohesive service is really cool.”
Gregg says a lot of her agenda revolves around leadership development, in addition to spiritual development.
“Leadership is part of who we are as a College, so students get exactly that by being involved in the chapel community,” she says. “They work as volunteers and learn how to do particular tasks related to services. More importantly, they take responsibility and ownership for the pieces of the puzzle.”
Because of the chapel’s growing popularity, ministry teams, led by student ministry coordinators, were recently created. The teams, which include music, worship and liturgy, events and publicity, hospitality, and technology, aim to engage more people through direct involvement.
“We recognize the need for new structures,” says Gregg. “Students are strongly encouraged to join a ministry team, if they’re interested in chapel. We want their input. More people mean more ideas and more energy.”
Posted: Fri, March 18th, 2011 at 9:21AM