Spiritual Life announced new changes in chapel requirements for the fall semester: students can no longer petition for fewer chapel requirements.
Timothy Whetstone, university chaplain and director of chaplaincy ministries, sent an email to the student body April 29 regarding the new attendance policy for the 2015-2016 school year.
“We have shifted to a no petition policy and therefore will not be accepting petitions for Chapel attendance reductions,” said Whetstone in the email to the student body.
With this policy, alternative chapels will be offered at Liberty Station regularly. Juniors and seniors are required to attend 23 chapels, while sophomores and freshman will be required to attend 30 chapels.
Alternative chapels are already held at Liberty Station twice a week, so students who take classes at Liberty Station can make it on time. The new chapels will be held Mondays and Wednesdays, will have a live band and the speakers will alternate between live speakers and streamed speakers from Brown Chapel.
“The class [held at Liberty Station] prior to chapel now ends five minutes before chapel [at PLNU] begins therefore making attendance at Brown Chapel impossible,” said Mary Paul, vice president of spiritual development.
Paul said she hopes the new chapels at Liberty Station will make it easier for commuter students to attend chapel because of the extra parking spaces and it’s proximity to home for many students.
Timothy Whetstone, university chaplain and director of chaplaincy ministries, said after listening and learning from other universities in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, Spiritual Life decided this change should be made in collaboration with the Cabinet.
“With much consideration and after consulting additional PLNU staff and students for their input and suggestions, the new Chapel Attendance Policy was presented and passed by the Cabinet,” Whetstone said.
The Chapel Attendance Policy Team spent a year and a half doing research about chapels at PLNU and other faith-based universities. However, Whetstone said that PLNU still falls lower than the average requirements based on the number of chapel opportunities offered throughout the semester – approximately 40 chapels and 13 Timeouts – making this a difficult decision to make.
“Depending upon a student’s year in school, we’re intentionally asking them to gather for less than two hours a week and even less for some commuter students at a Christian faith-based university,” Whetstone said.
Summer Chevalier, a freshman nursing major, believes that putting chapels at Liberty Station will make it easier for nursing students, but might open up doors for manipulating chapel requirements.
“The chapel requirements being lowered was a really good idea, because it lessens the stress and pressure of cramming chapels into the first two months,” said Chevalier. “But, it might be more of a temptation for students to scan in and then ditch chapel because of all the different stores and restaurants also available at Liberty Station.”
Overall, Chevalier believes that the implementation of these chapels will be beneficial to nursing students and students who have busy schedules.
Whetstone, the Chapel Attendance Policy Team and Paul will continue to implement more chapel ideas. Although there are no more plans about chapel as of right now, Whetstone said the talk is never “put to rest.”