Chaplain takes chapel in a new direction
While chapel has the same overall structure as previous years, students can expect exciting new changes to come out of this year’s theme verse and the diversity of chapel speakers.
Luke 12:32, this year’s verse, states: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Chaplain Timothy Blackmon explained that deciding on this year’s verse was an “interesting process,” and it was the first time it was done this way.
Normally, Blackmon said, he communicates with President Ryken to “gauge” the campus’s spiritual needs so that the verse may “comfort or instruct or warn or challenge or minister.”Blackmon told the Record that Luke 12:32 was a verse that he and President Ryken considered using a few years ago but decided to postpone.
This year, Blackmon suggested that it be this year’s verse and the President agreed. “I thought my first year [as Chaplain], it was confusing for me to have an orientation verse and a year verse,” Blackmon said.
To lessen the confusion, Blackmon met with the Orientation Committee (OC) this year and suggested that the year verse also be the orientation verse. OC discussed the idea and agreed.
Senior Timothy Banna, who studies music with elective studies in Bible and theology, serves as Student Chaplain of Scripture Engagement. His role, he explained, is to promote the love of the Scriptures on campus. This includes helping Chaplain Blackmon with the “Tolle Lege” Thursday morning Bible study and reading Scriptures in chapel.
Banna told the Record that based on his conversations with Blackmon he believes chapel will not focus on renowned speakers. Instead, he said Blackmon is looking “for people who can share a story, who have a powerful testimony to tell about God’s faithfulness.”
“I want students to have exposure to global Christianity that’s gospel-centered and that often shows up in places where you might not ex- pect it,” Blackmon said.
For example, in February, chapel will have a “Missions and Focus” series. While it would have been easy to “get a big name” missionary or leader, Blackmon heard about a Wheaton graduate school alumnus who planted churches and built schools in Uganda and asked him to speak.
“[Blackmon] is drawing from a wide variety of ethnic speakers who have different perspectives, different stories to tell, hopefully, to help us see the beauty and the diversity of the Kingdom of God and of the Body of Christ,” said Banna.
Blackmon pointed out several speakers who are intentionally scheduled during National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. They include Reverend Noel Castellanos, Pastor Hanibal Rodriguez, Samuel Rodriguez and Daniel Carroll.
Junior Brennan Burrows, a biblical and theological studies and economics double-major, talked about another new element of chapel. This semester, three chapels are dedicated solely to praise and worship. Burrows said that students in the past have given positive feedback when they can have “space to get with God.”
“When we worship the Father we become like him,” said Burrows. “We’re being molded and shaped into the image of his son, and that’s what’s so exciting to me about chapel: to routinely remember that worship goes beyond just every Sunday.”
Structurally, Monday chapels will focus on the Gospel of Luke, Wednesdays a narrative passage of the Old Testament and Fridays on a Psalm. While the year verse is from the book of Luke, Blackmon told the Record that the gospel reading does not purposely concur with Luke 12:32. According to Burrows, President Ryken’s series throughout the year will focus on the meaning of living in covenant community. “Sometimes students will scan the chapel calendar to see where they’re going to skip. But by this approach, you won’t necessarily know when a chapel is going to be especially powerful because the name of the person may not mean anything to you. My hope is that students come with a sense of expectancy to listen to a story that they may not see coming,” said Blackmon.