Two of Baylor’s age-old traditions will merge today as Chapel celebrates the nation’s oldest homecoming.
In an effort to take students back to the historical roots of the Baylor homecoming tradition, today’s special edition of Chapel will shift the way it acknowledges homecoming.
This year, homecoming court candidates who were previously featured on stage in Chapel will only be featured at the beginning in a slideshow.
“We want to shift the tone of the service,” said Ryan Richardson, associate chaplain and director of worship for chapel.
Dr. Burt Burleson, university chaplain, said there has been an active effort in the past few years to reconnect homecoming Chapel to its purpose, while recognizing the significance of the week.
To help achieve this, Chapel will feature a performance from one of the oldest student-led organizations on campus, the Baylor Religious Hour Choir. There will also be a lecture about the history of homecoming from Dr. Alan Lefever, director of the Texas Baptist Historical Collection.
Lefever, an adjunct professor of church history, will discuss the original meaning and purpose of homecoming, which he said was not centered around athletic events.
“The goal of homecoming in 1909 was to rekindle friendships and the Baylor Spirit,” Lefever said. “Athletics barely played a part. Homecoming is about what we do in the world.”
Lefever said a lot of work went into producing the invitations at the time, since alumni addresses had to be found. Newspaper advertisements were also taken to promote the event. The invitations were very explicit in emphasizing that homecoming was not about fundraising, because its purpose lay in reconnecting.
Lefever has attended homecoming every year since graduating in 1984.
He said he has created friendships with Baylor graduates he has met in chance occurrences while hiking in Maine and while visiting Beijing, China.
“There is an immediate common bond. I don’t think most schools have that.”