Navigating required spiritual formation as a college student can be difficult, but I’m here to tell you why APU should keep its three chapel requirement.

As the school year has begun, there have been many changes here at APU. With COVID-19 continuing to decline, we have seen the return to “normal” here at school. For us seniors, this transition to normality brings joy, as the distant feel of APU from freshman year is coming back.

APU has quickly returned to a place where events are consistent, people are everywhere and community is vibrant. Many seniors are feeling nostalgic as APU returns to our adored freshman year vibe.

In person events, chapels and group oriented activities are in full swing, and it feels like the APU of old. But for many, these events — specifically chapel — have brought up some questions and concerns.

The slow schedule that COVID-19 brought with it has made this return much more difficult. Things feel like they are moving a million miles an hour, and there’s no way to balance these activities with demanding academics.

Is three chapels a week too many? This seems to be a trending question here on campus. Freshman and seniors alike share various opinions on what they think is best.

Chapels have gone back to what they have been consistently for years: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. With this new, yet old, schedule, many have formulated strong opinions on their feelings regarding chapels, such as frustration, confusion, and joy.

Many students are excited for the return of big community events and want to meet everyone they can. Meanwhile, some don’t want another commitment and would rather view chapel online.

My opinion on this topic is solidified: I believe three chapels a week is an essential component of being a student at APU, and we should not change it.

To begin, regardless of the desire to go to a specific chapel, the reality is that entering a space where you get to worship and be transformed by a sermon can have a profound impact on your day, week, and year.

Junior Olivia Anderson, a public relations major, was able to share her thoughts on the importance of worship in her weekly schedule.

“I love going to chapel worship because it’s a space where I can bring in all my stresses, thoughts and gratitude and surrender it to God as I’m led in worship. Bringing these things to God is made more evident in chapel worship settings because they are in the middle of my school schedule,” she said.

Regardless of the strength of your faith, I believe that spending 2 hours a week in chapel can only benefit your spiritual journey. Whether you choose to engage or sit there in a distant mental headspace, I believe that your spiritual life will be strengthened. 

Secondly, in committing to APU, we all made a conscious decision to attend a Christian institution that values corporate worship. Our university has had multiple chapels a week for its entire history; to change that now would feel rash and inconsistent with the values this school sets forward. Chapel has been an integral part of this school’s community since its founding in 1899; to take that away would take out a core value of APU.

Lastly, and most importantly, is community. Without chapel, I wouldn’t know about half of my APU community today. During my freshman year, I met many people solely through chapel — whether that was at Kaleo or morning chapels. Through corporate worship with my fellow classmates, my community grew and my foundation at this school was formed.

The gathering of our APU student body only promotes the importance of community and allows a space for you to meet new people. 

For freshmen, commuters, transfers, or anyone who feels a lack of community, attending chapel can only increase your chances of building genuine friendships. The time spent with other peers and christians will only benefit your experience.

Although I feel strongly about maintaining three chapels a week, I understand the concern and frustration from many within the APU community. One of the most common complaints I have heard is that only four chapels are offered each week and making three of those is difficult at times.

Junior public relations major Ana Dykes shared some of her thoughts with me:

“I think requiring students to attend two chapels a week is reasonable because it allows students to attend half of the chapels that are offered. Often, attending chapel every other day can feel like a chore to some, so they won’t want to find a church nearby to attend on Sundays.”

This complaint holds a ton of validity, as it can be tough with work, class and life in general to make it to chapel three times a week.

For many, as Dykes mentioned, the two-chapel-a-week format seems more reasonable because  the consistency of chapel can become a chore. This thought is not obscure or new, as many have already begun to feel that consistent chapels feel like a drag.

Because of the stress three chapels a week can bring, I recommend taking advantage of your 10 chapel absences or request for less chapels a week if there is a scheduling conflict. APU has offered resources to aid us as students, and instead of wasting them, we should take full advantage of them. Utilizing these resources is the best way to make three chapels each week more manageable. 

Also, if you go to three chapels for 2 weeks straight, you can space your chapel absences out to where you only go to two a week for the rest of the semester! Two chapels per week is more manageable, and if that’s necessary for you to thrive, then make it happen and use your chapel absences for the purpose of their creation.

So the question remains — are three chapels too many? While I understand the pushback, my answer remains no.