The red double doors of the Chapel building are propped open and soft music plays as people flock into the sanctuary of Regent’s Chapel. Smiling student volunteers stand in the aisles and welcome incoming guests as they greet one another and make their way to their seats. The music stops, the congregation prays, worship begins, and in a matter of minutes the speaker steps behind the podium and the message begins. Up to this point, it seems to be a typical University Chapel. However, this is not the case.
During the school year Regent hosts its University Chapel every Wednesday afternoon from noon to 1pm in the Chapel building. It is a time for Regent University staff, faculty, and students to come together for a time of prayer, worship, and fellowship as they devote one hour of their workday to the Lord and celebrating the Body of Christ. Speakers include local pastors and leaders, such as Dr. Paul Hardy, as well as international speakers like Heidi Baker and Bishop T.D. Jakes. It is a wonderful time to come together and glean from men and women all over the world and how God is moving in and through them.
However, during the summer, things change ever so slightly. We still meet in the Chapel from noon to 1pm on Wednesdays, albeit only every other week. Students, Staff, and Faculty all still come together for worship, prayer and fellowship. The only thing that has really changed is the message. Instead of brining in outside leaders from Hampton Roads and Virginia Beach, each service is led by a Regent University Faculty or Staff member. Words of wisdom are brought from men and women such as the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Gerson Moreno-Riano; the head of Facility Services, Samuel Brownwell; to the Director of Editorial Services with Regent University Marketing, Brooke Chalfant. Instead of reaching outside of our walls for famous men and women of God, we have reached within and recognized the incredible stories and testimonies of our very own Regent family.
What this means is incredible. Within the span of an hour I sat and watched as my psychology professor became so much more than the man who graded by final exam, but was transformed into a man who had wrestled for much of his life with the tension between academic agnosticism and Catholic spiritualism. Likewise, the woman who, in my mind, had only ever reserved rooms and updated calendar announcements became the survivor of domestic violence, healer of abused women, and aspiring counselor to the stars. What does this do in the end? It is simple; it makes us brothers and sisters. In sharing one’s story and hearing the story being told, a wall is broken down that makes it impossible to see the other person as anything less than human.
It is too easy to assume all your professor will ever be is the man or woman who stands before your classroom two to three times a week. The truth is, they were once a student too, struggling to find the call of God on their life, to walk in it, and to reach the place they stand today. In many ways, their journey does not end here at Regent, and like us, they are merely on one short stop as they continue seeking the Lord’s will for them. Thus, Summer Chapel becomes a place where the blinds are pulled back and I am able to see into the past of those who have gone before me. Like a family album, I can trace the transformation of this campus through the stories and people who have made it what it is. And when faced with uncertainty for my own future, I can be reassured in knowing that I am not the only one who ever felt lost – for I am surrounded by the survivors of the “unknowing”. They are my deans, my professors, my marketing experts and grounds keepers. I do not even need a Summer Chapel to tell me that. All I need to do is stop one of the many incredible men or women on Campus and ask them to tell me their story, and to show me God’s ways.
Proverbs 86:11 “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.”Chapel, Faculty, Staff, Summer at Regent, Summer Chapel, Testimonies