Overcrowded chapels may be result of new makeup deadline

Prayer projects are now being offered as a temporary solution to the overcrowding in chapels.

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John Buchanan

John Buchanan/THE CHIMES

Anna Frost, Writer

Director of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care, Chad Miller, hands out "prayer projects" on Tuesday morning's Talbot chapel once it reached maximum capacity. | John Buchanan/THE CHIMES


With the deadline for chapel requirements rapidly approaching, chapel staff have recently implemented a temporary solution for chapels filled to capacity: Prayer projects.

After Monday’s chapel was moved to Sutherland Auditorium because Chase Gym was reserved for the Biola staff Christmas party, about 20 people were turned away and given prayer reports. Chad Miller, director of spiritual formation, said that between Sutherland and the two satellite locations, Calvary Chapel and Mayers Auditorium, there were 1250 seats available for students.

Todd Pickett, dean of Spiritual Development explained that Spiritual Development is addressing chapel overflow by creating temporary prayer projects for students who arrive to chapels at Calvary Chapel and Sutherland that have filled up, provided they arrive within 10 minutes after the start time.

“If we have to turn people away, we turn them away with a prayer project they can do for chapel credit,” Pickett said.

Prayer projects rely on personal accountability

The prayer projects are based on the honors system, students just have to meditate on verses provided on the sheet and turn it in signed to Spiritual Development. Even so, junior political science major Beatriz Delgadillo said that she actually did the last prayer project she received and will complete the one from this Wednesday as well.

“I enjoyed the prayer project, but I was hoping to be able to go and be with community…but everything happens for a reason, so I think it will be a good time,” Delgadillo said.

Last week, every chapel, except for those held in Chase Gym, filled to capacity with significant overflow of students as the week continued, wrote Jonathan Wyatt, chapel accountability coordinator, in an email. More than 150 students were given prayer projects last week, according to Wyatt.

Pickett noted that it was an unexpected occurrence, especially at this point in the semester.

“We’re trying to adjust. It took us a little by surprise this year because it came a little earlier. In fact, we haven’t had overflow except for Sabbathing in the past. It’s been full at Fives in the past … but for us to have a 100 more people, that’s new in these venues,” he said.

In addition to prayer projects, the Friday Dwelling chapels will be moved from Sutherland to Chase Gymnasium to accommodate more students, Lisa Igram, associate dean of Spiritual Development, announced to students in morning chapel on Wednesday, Nov. 28.

On Monday of last week, Spiritual Development reminded students about the move of the chapel makeup deadline to Dec. 14 — the Friday before finals. Last year’s due date was Jan. 2. Problems caused by mailed-in makeups and deadlines from the accounting office for the incomplete chapel fine contributed to the deadline change, Pickett said.

"Since this is new, we expected that people might have to rush do their makeups earlier this first semester. But, it seems, they are actually going to chapels instead, which is great. The day we realized what was happening, we quickly devised ways to give credit to everyone who came,” said Pickett.

Negative reactions to overcrowded chapels

More than 150 students arrived to another full Talbot chapel this Tuesday with mixed feelings about the prayer projects and the repeated overflow. While some appreciated the chance to still get their chapel credit, others were disappointed.

“It’s cool that they give us another opportunity to get the chapel credit, but it’s kind of a bummer that I woke up early to come and there’s no room left,” said sophomore art major Hannah Efron.

Hannah Hughes, also a sophomore art major, agreed, saying that she would have just slept in if she had known it would be full.

In response to student protests that chapel policies are unfair, Pickett said that students are aware of the chapel policies when they agree to come to Biola, so this should not be a surprise.

Pickett said that he doesn’t think the deadline is harsh. While part of the decision was logistically driven, he said that he feels that it still helps Spiritual Development’s goal to engage students in their curriculum on a regular basis instead of after the semester.

“I realize people are busy, but it’s part of the education,” Pickett said.

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