Since September 24, 1957, daily chapel has been a staple of spiritual life at Lubbock Christian University. Throughout the many years since that first meeting, leaders and teachers have come and gone, and meeting times and places have shifted, but the eternal purpose of chapel has remained the same.

“Chapel is a time for the LCU community to come together to celebrate Jesus, be reminded of what is happening on campus, and connect with each other,” explained Josh Stephens (‘00), Dean of Students at LCU. “Chapel is one of the staples of the LCU experience. In many ways, the chapel experience we see today reflects many of the favorite elements of the days of old, but it has evolved to make sure we are deliberate about creating relevant programming, all while pointing to Jesus. Is it loved by all? No. Does every chapel program connect with our listeners? Nope. But it is a time when we can all be present together and be reminded of God’s faithfulness in our lives and the life of Lubbock Christian University.”

Randal Dement (‘89), Vice President of Student Life, shared, “Chapel provides rhythm to campus at LCU. What most don’t realize is that it is more than just what happens in the McDonald Moody for 30 minutes. It is the community coming together—walking alongside each other, greeting each other on the way, and sharing and interacting while departing. It’s human interaction in the context of prioritizing who we are as people of faith in God while also celebrating the community that we get to be part of.”

For many alumni, some of their favorite memories of their time at LCU came from chapel. Paula (Parks) Fulford (‘78), for example, fondly recalled her memories of the singing during those times. Several others found love because of assigned seating in the early days before electronic means of taking attendance. “I met my wife (Laura Gaumer, ‘72) of 51 years in chapel,” recalled Tim O’Hearn (‘73). “She was dating my roommate at the time.” Similarly, Mike Claxton (‘67) recalled that his first moments with his wife Lou (Hodges, ‘67) were spent in chapel. “She was always late because she was coming from a class in the Field House, and I always had to stand up to let her in because her seat was on the other side of me.”

Others shared more comical memories. Fulford recalled Dr. Harvey Pruitt disguising himself (with the help of Dr. Don “Doc” Williams (‘62) and June Bearden) as a German professor asked to speak at chapel, and slowly removing pieces of his disguise until people began to realize who he was. Rick Stephens (‘86) shared a memory of a Chap Brigade announcement where they put a trampoline in the orchestra pit beforehand, and then Kevin Rhodes (‘84) pretended to fall in, only to fly back up moments later with the script. “Many, many fun times and memories,” he reminisced.

“My friend left her puppy with me and Emily Johnston (‘00) while she went to work, but we had to go to chapel because we already had too many absences,” recalled Erin (Stalcup) Lee (‘00). “We couldn’t leave the puppy in the dorms, so we put him in a small duffle bag and took him to chapel. He was good up until the prayer, when he began whining. Everyone was looking around and wondering where it was coming from.”

Dement shared that there have been several people who have coordinated chapel programming throughout his tenure. Professors Kirk Hayes (‘83) and Ethan Brown were both instructors in the Department of Biblical Studies, and during their tenures they coordinated daily chapel programs. When Brown left LCU in 2014, LCU’s Office of Student Life took over the programming for daily chapel, and staff members like Paul Norman (‘07), Link Blevins (‘02), Brad Eason (‘08), and Kecia (Nichols) Jackson (‘08) took on leading chapel initiatives as an additional element of their job descriptions. In recent years, however, the Office of Student Life has implemented a Chapel Committee and created the Student Chapel Coordinator position to ensure students have a voice in chapel programming. Josh Stephens now chairs the Chapel Committee, which is made up of faculty, staff, and students from across campus.

This past year, the committee consisted of Jana Anderson, Assistant Professor of English; Nathan Anderson (‘08), Multimedia Coordinator; Dr. Haley Burton (‘15), Assistant Professor of Finance; Kaili Hutchinson, Assistant Dean of Students and Title IX Coordinator; Warren McNeill (‘82), Vice President for University Relations; Keegan Stewart (‘19), Chief of Staff and Director of Social Media; and Bryce Vincent, the Student Chapel Coordinator.

“Getting to work with chapel is a real blessing, but it takes intentionality and teamwork,” Stephens emphasized. “Most people don’t know the time and energy it takes to schedule and coordinate chapel. The chapel committee meets weekly to discuss and process previous chapels, recommend future chapel speakers, hear from people who have asked to speak in chapel, and schedule all chapel programming. Rest assured,” he added, “this group leans into the Holy Spirit to guide programming and yearly themes.”

Hutchinson, who joined the LCU community in 2023, shared, “The chapel committee brings together a diverse group of faculty, staff, and students to prayerfully consider what the Spirit has in store for each and every chapel program. The amount of brainstorming, planning, and prayer that comes from this group is impressive. We all strongly believe that our chapel time together is part of the core of who we are at LCU, and we want all who participate to walk away from our time together feeling encouraged and loved.

“Being a part of chapel as a participant and as a member of the chapel committee has been such a blessing since I arrived at LCU,” she added. “Having gone to a small private Christian college much like LCU, I always looked forward to chapel as a student. I enjoyed the worship and speakers, but most of all I think I enjoyed the community aspect of it the most—which is incredibly prevalent in chapel at LCU today. I love getting over to chapel early and watching the students trickle in and share time of fellowship with their classmates.”

Like many other things at LCU, chapel has evolved over the years. Where attendance used to be tracked by assigned seating, students can now scan their student ID to record their attendance. In the university’s early years, it was held in the F. W. Mattox Administration Building where the library is now located, and since then has been held in the McDonald Moody Auditorium, and even briefly in the Rip Griffin Center in the fall of 2005 while the auditorium was under renovation. Similarly, the starting time of chapel has shifted from 9:40 a.m., to 10:00 a.m., to now 11:00 a.m. And in recent memory, obstacles like the COVID-19 pandemic and technological challenges have prompted other changes, as Dement shared.

“Like other campuses and other parts of life, technology is an ongoing distraction to the in-person presence and experience of Chapel,” he shared. “This is a primary reason that being together and sharing the same space in the presence of others has never been more important.”

“During Covid, we still wanted to connect with our students in meaningful and intentional ways, so we started optional Friday Small Groups,” Stephens continued. “We could control the size of the groups, and this allowed us to do spiritual programming during the semester,” he added. “Small groups provided an opportunity for the facilitator and students to engage in conversation as opposed to the lecture style we often see in our corporate chapel gatherings—these groups were so popular that we have continued to offer them each semester, led by faculty and staff.”

Erin (Stewart) Drumright (‘98), Media Relations Coordinator, leads one of these small groups. “There are so many blessings that come from getting to lead a small group, but one of the greatest is getting to know students on a deeper, more personal level,” she shared. “Whether we’re spending time studying scripture, in prayer, or just taking time to share what’s going on in our week, the gift of building and growing relationships in the small group setting is special. I met students through small group that I might never have crossed paths with otherwise. There are so many good things that come from the larger weekly chapel times as well, but small groups are such a great opportunity for more intentional connection with students.”

The Chapel Committee is always evaluating and brainstorming new ways to spiritually engage and invite LCU’s student body into deeper faith. “Over time through our evaluations, we have found that students appreciate the balance of hearing testimonies and messages from the campus community with a smaller balance of outside speakers,” Dement explained. “Students now have the opportunity to acquire spiritual life credits through a blend of corporate chapel attendance, online opportunities, special events/evening opportunities, service, and Friday small groups. Corporate chapel at LCU and on other campuses is an ongoing evolution, and the goal of those involved in planning is to honor God, celebrate community, and provide space for togetherness that provides students the opportunity to refresh, reflect, and consider.”

“One of my favorite things about chapel is that it provides me with an opportunity to worship with like-minded people, allows me to connect with students, faculty, and staff, and reminds me that Jesus is walking with us in so many ways,” Stephens emphasized, adding that chapel’s spiritual impact on so many LCU students cannot be overstated.

“Chapel is mentioned every year at our annual Student Appreciation Banquet, and during the video of our Mr. and Ms. LCU nominees, someone always talks about their chapel experience, time with friends, and how they saw God at work,” he shared.

“I think chapel will always be relevant to the student experience at LCU,” he added. “Will it change in some ways? I have to think it probably will—but its mission and the opportunity to remind students of God’s faithfulness will continue to be a goal we will always reach for.”