If SPU wants to attract people from diverse backgrounds, a required chapel is not going to do the trick. Mandatory chapel will only attract people who want a strictly Protestant experience. Belonging to the Greek Orthodox tradition, I already feel neglected on this campus of mostly Protestants. This being said, the proposal for required chapel does in fact acknowledge that SPU is currently lacking in its accommodation of the diverse religious traditions on campus. There’s only one church for many different people.
But the solution the 11-page document offers is vague: “Worship in chapel will reflect the breadth and depth of God’s kingdom by including a variety of worship styles. Chapel leadership should draw from the breadth of campus demographics and reflect campus diversity.” What exactly does “variety of worship styles” mean? Will there be readings from the Torah? Will the Quran be brought in? Will incense and chanting make regular appearances? Probably not.
As a Greek Orthodox, I wonder what my place in the required chapel services would be. Technically, I’m not even allowed to take Communion from a non–Greek Orthodox Church.
This required chapel would be forcing me to break the rules of the tradition of my church and my culture. Further, our Communion consists of wine and bread. Will there be wine at this new required chapel? Probably not.
The proposal seems to offer the simple solution that while I would still be required to attend, I could just sit as an observer. But what’s the point of going to church to merely be an observer?
We go to church to worship God and bond with Jesus Christ and each other through taking Communion. I would be forced to sit and do nothing while I could be studying, working or going to a church that I can take Communion from and want to worship in. This new required chapel would be ripping non-Protestants away from their traditions and forcing them to feel even more left out because it is being approached from the Wesleyan tradition. There just seems to be no place for anyone who isn’t a Protestant.
Will the back pew be a row of Jews, Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox feeling marginalized once again? Will they be forced to sit and be surrounded by the unfamiliar hymns of someone else’s traditions? Probably so.
Editor’s note: SPU’s current chapel does not include communion, nor do the proposed changes to chapel include communion.