New service provides “solace” for students

Photo by Clay Milford.
Photo by Clay Milford.

Clay Milford, Staff Writer

   On Monday, September 30, the Office of Spiritual Development at Southern Nazarene University hosted its first Solace service at 7:30 pm in Herrick Auditorium. The gathering included student and staff-led worship, various sacraments such as communion and a more laid back approach to what an ordinary chapel service would look like. Blair Spindle, University Chaplain and Vice President of the Office of Spiritual Development, said that while Solace is considered a chapel service, it hums a different tune than what goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. “It is a chapel service at SNU – it’s just on Monday nights and is longer so it allows more time for response. We take communion and are planning on having a baptism service toward the end of the year.”

   Banning Dawson, Director of Chapel Music in the Office of Spiritual Development, said that Solace is a service “created around prayer.” Said Dawson, “It is our hope that this would be a time for students to come and rest in the Presence of God through prayer, song and sacrament. We believe it’s a great time to come and re-center or reorient ourselves. The idea was birthed after Tony Campolo came and spoke at chapel last year. He made mention of the importance of centering ourselves upon Jesus Christ daily.”

   Solace, or the comfort one finds in a time of distress or sadness, is the exact ideal upon which the new time of worship is based. Said Spindle, “Chapel on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s plays multiple roles but doesn’t give us enough time to really respond and focus. It began to dawn on me that our students often feel overwhelmed by life, which at times feels turbulent and even hurtful. Solace is comfort and peace in times of turbulence. It offers students an opportunity to engage in sacraments that are meaningful in our community and another time to just come together for prayer and worship.”

   Both Spindle and Dawson agree that Solace is a service of its own. While the music and speaker lead chapel, Solace is more led by the congregation. It can be longer or shorter from time to time and is nearly stripped of any sound at all save for the music. As Dawson says, “Typically there won’t be the 25 minute message or sermon for these services.”

   After one meeting, Solace has proven to be an effective time for students to come to simply listen, pray and think. There are two more planned Solace services for this semester, as there will be three per semester. Dawson said, “All are welcome.” So whether you are a student at Southern Nazarene University, a parent, a professor or not involved with the university whatsoever, you can find Solace at the next service: Monday, October 28, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.