Remove Chapel Online, encourage in-person experience

By Rachel Chiang | Reporter

Baylor offers five different Chapel experiences — one being Chapel Online, which it added due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Baylor should remove Chapel Online as a Chapel alternative for students since the worst of the pandemic is behind us, and Baylor has recently lifted mask policies and basically resumed normalcy in all aspects of academic and cultural activities.

“Baylor believes that the need for members of the academic community to come together to focus on both the God who made them and the universe in which they live has not changed,” Baylor’s spiritual life website reads.

Most students choose Chapel Online to complete their Chapel requirements because they can choose when to watch the videos and answer the questions before the deadline. Individually watching pre-made videos whenever it’s convenient makes it hard for students to find community and build relationships in Christ together, which is what Baylor strives to achieve.

Dallas Baptist University’s (DBU) Chapel is required for all undergraduates, not just first-years, and is held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“Chapel serves as that breath of fresh air in the midst of the busyness of normal college life and features student-led worship and a speaker every session,” DBU’s website reads.

Unlike Baylor, DBU only offers in-person Chapel, and it makes its stance on Christianity very clear in its worship and messages. Like many I’ve spoken to, we appreciate the effort Baylor puts into its Chapel while trying to be inclusive — adding options and speakers from different denominations — but it tends to make their messages fuzzy and unclear. Since Baylor is a Baptist university, it should be dedicating Chapel to reinforcing those beliefs and building up the spiritual well-being of its students in a group setting, rather than exploring different denominational ideologies and making skits based on parables.

Abilene Christian University (ACU) has a mix of Baylor and DBU’s Chapels by offering a mandatory gathering at its Moody Coliseum and supplementary Small Group Chapels (which meet within organizations for Bible study) and Departmental Chapel (which allows students to grow spiritually and find community within their respective majors).

“We know we are stronger when we walk together, and Chapel reinforces our faith,” ACU’s website reads.

Baylor should adopt a similar example and encourage in-person Chapel to foster community and encourage spiritual growth among students by providing more meaningful, focused Chapel sessions. And, if possible, Baylor should at least make Chapel Online a livestream of actual Chapel sessions with worship and messages that focus on the university’s values and beliefs.