Starting this semester, Azusa Pacific University made a change to chapel requirements. Instead of attending chapel weekly to receive credit, you have to just participate in 38 chapels for the whole semester.

In prior semesters, students had to attend at least three chapel services a week. Students were also allowed ten absences. Attendance numbers ranged from 38 to 40, the minimum number of chapels required to receive full credit. However, during the first chapel this spring semester, I needed clarification on “one of the 38 chapels” I had attended. I wasn’t the only one confused. Everyone around me seemed surprised and uncertain about the situation.

This raised questions about how APU students will adapt to the new chapel requirements. Is this change positively impacting students, or is it having a negative effect?

Heejae Jung, a sophomore majoring in international relations and honors humanities, said that the changes to the chapel requirements positively affected him. “The change gives me the feeling that I’m voluntarily attending chapel rather than being forced to be at chapel,” he said.

He also mentions how this new requirement provides flexibility to students by allowing them to attend according to their schedule. 

“Now, students can arrange their attendance more flexibly by class schedule,” he explained. “For example, if the student is busy this week, they can attend once. Or, if their schedule is open that week, they can attend four chapels to be credited for all of them.” Jung seems supportive of the new change that happened this semester. However, some students fear that the lack of structure might lead to future procrastination.

Clara Kim, a junior nursing major, claimed, “The new requirement for chapel attendance has indeed lessened the pressure on me to attend, but as someone who tends to postpone attending, I fear this may lead me to continue postponing in the future.” 

Kim sees the change for the chapel as a positive change where she doesn’t feel pressured to attend chapel, but she’s concerned that she would miss chapel because too much freedom is given to her. 

Kyle Dobson, a freshman allied health major, said he liked the changes in the new chapel requirements. “This new chapel requirement gives me less pressure to attend chapel, and I love it!”

Meanwhile, Juha Kim, a freshman nursing major, said, “I like the new 38 chapel attendance! It’s a lot easier for me to manage my time around going to chapel and class in the mornings, plus I can arrange my studying time.” 

Hope Rios, a sophomore allied health major, said, “I see people feeling less pressure about the chapel in this change, which is good. I believe APU is very insistent on the requirements, which results in a good student body that loves the Lord. With this new change, I think more students can attend chapel with a heart that seeks God, rather than simply attending because they have to.” 

Kim and Rios believe that the changes made to the chapel have resulted in positive outcomes as they concluded this benefits them academically and spiritually. During my interviews, many individuals expressed that the new changes had a positive impact. However, Kailee Kobayashi’s situation was an exception to this.

Kailee Kobayashi, a freshman social work major, said, “Initially, when I attended chapel and observed the requirement of 38 chapel attendances, it appeared excessive. I experienced moments where I felt overwhelmed and began to participate in the chapel just to meet the quota without genuinely putting God at the center of my heart.”

Although with the changes implemented, she still felt overwhelmed attending chapel and focused more on meeting the requirement rather than putting God in the picture.

However, Kailee shared a story that changed her mindset, “Someone suggested to me that I attend one chapel at the beginning and one at the end to start a good week and a good end to the week!” 

Most students supported the latest change in the chapel requirements, and many agreed they felt less pressure to attend chapel with this new change. With the new required chapel schedule, many students think they have more flexibility in arranging their schedules. Some students may feel overwhelmed to fill in the 38 chapel-attendance, but maybe we too can take Kobayashi’s advice and take it one by one to put God in focus rather than other things that may be going on.