Written by: Spenser White
New and returning students experienced a new part of chapel as they started their school year. Before the speaker walked up to share, they were treated to a short video explaining the chapel theme of the semester, Multiply, with the added surprise of a voice-over from the new president Jim Dunn. Also, the chapel speaker’s name is displayed on the screen now following a video of roots growing deep into the soil. I sat down with the Associate Vice President of Student Development, Ben Rotz, to discuss the new features and theme of chapel this year.
First, Rotz told me about the video to kick off chapel. The chapel team hired a local company, BitBrilliant, and used creator Jonathan Coleman, a former OKWU student (‘19), to produce it. “We wanted it to invoke the idea of a mustard seed growing,” Rotz explained while separating his hands to show me. “In the same way that when a seed grows roots it also grows up. The canopy increases. We want to teach the students how when they become rooted in Christ, they also grow upward and create more disciples.” He also explained how the plants help enforce another idea: community.
The chapels at Oklahoma Wesleyan University follow a four-year rotation, based upon the four pillars. Every student here should be able to state the pillars, but for a review, they are The Primacy of Jesus Christ, The Priority of Scripture, The Pursuit of Truth, and the Practice of Wisdom. Each corresponds to a chapel theme, or “incarnating the four Ps,” as Rotz puts it. Last year’s theme was Community; this year’s is Calling. They all connect.
“Making disciples,” Rotz said, “is usually a one-on-one endeavor. We want this theme of Multiply to be, paradoxically, opposed to the ideal of ‘bigger is better.’ Christ came to redeem not just individuals, but the world. We want students to form intimate community on this campus.” To quote the video at the beginning of this series: “Jesus didn’t spend much time talking about the size of our portfolios, our churches, or our GPAs. Apparently, in the kingdom of God those things don’t matter that much.” The hope is that students will wrestle with the theme and take it seriously. The main Scripture underlying the entire series is Ephesians chapter 3. In this chapter, Paul prays for the Ephesian church, wishing for them to be “rooted and established in love” (Verse 17). Following with the theme of plant life, Rotz specially grabbed onto that phrasing. That is his prayer for this chapel year, that each of us would be rooted and established in love. Come see what this year’s chapel holds!