The rumors are true. Chapel credits are changing, and enrichment credits are gone.
Blair Spindle, University Pastor, explains the decision process and why we are required to go to chapel: “I spent my first year [2012-2013 academic year] observing chapel the way it was. I wanted to get a feel for things and not make any big changes until I understood how things worked. Mandatory chapel is an important practice of Christian community. We get good speakers and have good worship, and it is meaningful. When schools across the nation let christian practices like chapel erode away, these schools become indistinguishable from secular institutions. So, this year I want to make chapel credits less subjective and the system simple to understand.”
Twenty-seven chapel credits each semester for eight semesters at SNU will still be required. However, there will be no enrichment credits meaning that all credits will be equal and count toward the twenty-seven required credits.
Spindle said, “We are eliminating the online enrichment credit system because it was subjective. College pastors complained about it, and RA’s told me they felt like they had to lie for their residents. Now we will offer a chapel credit for 30 tuesday and thursday services as always as well as every thursday night for Kingdom Come. Kingdom come is a student lead worship service with speakers organized by SGA Campus Ministries, which will be at 9pm this year. Additionally, we will offer a full credit for the three scheduled faith and film nights and will be having three prayer and sacrament services this year, including one baptism service. We will also give one credit for small group and fields of faith attendance. There will be no less than forty-seven chapel credit opportunities, and we may add more. There will be three or four opportunities each week.”
The decision to change the system was approved with student input considered. Any student is welcome to come into the spiritual development office to suggest speakers and make any recommendations for chapel.
Scanning into chapel should be easier because new equipment was purchased. This equipment is hardwired and will use an ethernet cable thus eliminating many of the malfunctions caused by the many devices connecting to SNU’s WIFI in Herrick during chapel hour. These new devices will also show a student’s photo so the person scanning can ensure that the credit is given to the deserving individual. Scanners will now be at Kingdom Come and all the other for-credit events.
Spindle said, “One thing I read about in the handbook was chapel probation and failure. It was not clearly defined, and during my observation time, I didn’t see this actually happening. The spiritual development office is in charge of planning and preparing for chapel, and the student development office is in charge of chapel fines and attendance enforcement.
Mike Redwine, Vice President of Student Development, commented, “Chapel is valuable to our institution and we want students who are respectful and willing to participate in chapel. Students who do not meet the required 27 chapels for the semester will be fined $20 for each chapel that they are deficient. The maximum fine would be $240, assuming a student had only received 15 chapel credits, which would result in them being 12 short of the 27 required. Any student who attends fewer than 15 chapel opportunities will not be invited to back to SNU the next semester. In student and spiritual development, we will monitor students’ chapel attendance, and if students are at risk of failing chapel, we will talk to them and ensure they understand their opportunities and consequences. By mid to late september we will know if a student is at risk. It only takes going to chapel two out of the three or four opportunities a week and getting three skips.”
Chapel will still only be required for eight semesters at SNU. But students who are twenty three or older who have not completed eight semesters are not automatically exempted from chapel. Students 23 and older need to fill out an exemption form in the student development office as well as student teachers and others with internships that conflict with the times chapel is offered.
Student Service Program (SSP) will not count for chapel credit this semester.
Spindle said, “We value service a lot, but we aren’t sure that we need to award chapel credit for it. Joel Mullen [new addition to the spiritual development staff] will arrive from Italy in early September; he will be in charge of service, so we will revisit it then. He has a real passion and heart for service, so he will have great plans. Our office will help students get involved in service projects around OKC–just come in and talk to us. We also hope that students will get involved in our summer mission trips; we are working on possible locations like Australia, Germany, Haiti and more. Commission unto Mexico in December and a summer trip to Swaziland will definitely be offered.”
Overall, Dr. Redwine and Dr. Spindle are trying to follow God’s leading and are working to create a chapel experience that appeals to all types of people from all types of backgrounds. They want the credit system to be simple and straightforward so that chapel can be truly appreciated.
Kyndal Jayroe, sophomore Early Childhood and Elementary Education major, responded to these changes by saying, “At first I was really nervous about the changes, but after hearing the true explanation I feel much better.”