Next academic year, Friday chapels and Monday convocations will be extended to 40 minutes.
In an on campus survey last year, the spiritual life advising committee – a group of students, faculty and administrators – examined the current chapel expectations and realities at Goshen College. "We found that students really value the time for singing," said Bob Yoder, campus pastor.
According to those interviewed in the survey, a majority felt that singing builds community.
After reviewing the results from the survey, the committee submitted a request to President's Council, in which they proposed a lengthening of the chapel time by 10 minutes. "We often feel constricted by the 30 minute time slot," said Tamara Shantz, assistant campus pastor. "We want to give speakers at least 20 minutes, but that's not enough time for more than one song."
In 2008, President's Council vetoed the request. "They thought it would not be practical to have a 30 minute convocation and a 40 minute chapel," Yoder said. "Students would get confused and start leaving after 30 minutes on chapel days."
However, this year, a team including Yoder, Shantz, chapel organizers and Becky Horst, the convocation organizer, worked together on a communication piece in which they requested that both chapel and convocation be lengthened by 10 minutes. They presented the proposal to Student Senate, which passed it unanimously.
Weekly chapel and convocations have not always been 30 minutes and twice a week. According to Yoder, 40 years ago there were no convocations at all. There were only chapels.
Almost three years ago, the spiritual life advising committee removed the Wednesday chapel. Now, chapel and convocation are once a week. "[Now] we need to decide what the main goal of the two is," he said.
Plans are still being made for the extra time during the convocations. One idea is for a weekly "world news segment" at the beginning of the Monday convocations. "We are happy to hear ideas and suggestions about the convocations and chapels," Horst said.
Also, having time for three or four songs during chapel will allow for more song leaders and student involvement.
The new convocation and chapel length will begin next year. "Students will know, because chapel will begin with more than one song of gathering," Shantz said. "And we might put up reminders for awhile."