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Today’s Chapel at PLU

September 3, 2014

Today’s Chapel at PLU: Collaboration, Community, Choice (and a Celebratory Song That Needs Your Lyrics!)

University Pastor Nancy Connor at the 2013 Blessing of the Animals

University Pastor Nancy Connor at the 2013 Blessing of the Animals

service in PLU’s Lagerquist Hall. (Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)

By Sandy Deneau Dunham
PLU Marketing & Communications

In 1952, Pacific Lutheran University made Chapel mandatory for the first time: Seats were assigned, attendance was taken and that, dear congregant, was that.  

To say Chapel has changed over the last 60+ years is an understatement of biblical proportions. Well, maybe not quite.

But still … just one look at the September Chapel calendar confirms the indisputably interdisciplinary, all-are-welcome approach of today’s Chapel at PLU: Now held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30 a.m., Chapel has become an inclusive, relevant—optional—oasis that reflects the diversity of religious expression on campus; presents stunning music and influential speakers in a perfectly acoustic setting; and, on Sept. 12, even launches a crowd-sourcing lyric-writing contest tied to PLU’s 125th academic year.

“The overall theme of Chapel this year is ‘The Fruit of the Spirit,’ focusing on peace, kindness, joy and patience,” said University Pastor Nancy Connor. “One of the reasons we start with peace (in September) is the whole idea that there’s so much unrest in the world, and with the violence at Seattle Pacific University last spring, we want to start the year off as place of peace and community.”

So, for example, Sept. 15’s guest speaker is Peace Scholar Andrew Larsen ’15, while ASPLU President Sarah Smith ’15, a Global Studies major with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Resolution, speaks Sept. 19—and then there’s that contest.

September Chapel Calendar: ‘Peace’
Sept. 10: Nancy Connor and Dennis Sepper, University Pastors

Musician: Clara Eickhoff ’15, vocalist

Sept. 12:  PLU President Thomas W. Krise

Musicians: Dr. Greg Youtz, Professor of Music

Dr. Richard Nance, Director of Choral Activities

Sept. 15: Andrew Larsen ’15, Campus Ministry Steward

Musician: Daniel Stell ’15, violist

Sept. 17: Hal DeLaRosby, Director of Academic Advising

Musician: Chapel Choir, directed by Dr. Paul Tegels

Sept. 19: Sarah Smith ’15, ASPLU President 2014-15

Musician: August Giles ’16, violinist

Sept. 22: Dr. Samuel Torvend, Professor of Religion, Chair of Lutheran Studies

Musician: Kristin McCarthy ’15, vocalist

Sept. 24: Dr. Antonios Finitsis, Associate Professor of Religion

Musician: Chapel Choir

Sept. 26: Dr. Aana Vigen, Associate Professor of Christian Social Ethics at Loyola University


Musician: James Brown, Associate Professor of Music

Sept. 29: Dr. Sergia Hay, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Musician: Anikka Abbott ’15, vocalist

For more information, click here.


Sept. 12 is an especially high-profile day at Chapel: PLU President Thomas W. Krise will speak on the history and importance of alma mater, LuteCast will Livestream the entire service and a new alma mater tune composed by PLU Music Professor Gregory Youtz will premiere.

The tune begins Youtz’s 12-minute-long Lutheran Processional, a proposed new march for PLU Convocation and Commencement ceremonies.

“The Lutheran Processional mixes famous Lutheran chorale tunes (O Day Full of Grace, Lobe den Herren, Beautiful Savior and A Mighty Fortress is Our God) with newly composed, original tunes in the style of folk music of the cultures in which Pacific Lutheran University maintains Gateway programs: Trinidad, China, Mexico and Norway,” Youtz said. “The piece also utilizes some (optional) non-Western instruments, including Javanese gongs; Trinidadian steel drums; Chinese plucked, bowed and hammered strings; and Hardanger fiddles.”

Fruit of the Spirit tree, Campus Ministry poster

University Congregation President Ruth Kovanen ’15, also volunteer coordinator at PLU’s Women’s Center, created the artwork and stickers for this year’s Chapel program. September’s Chapel theme is “peace”; coming up are “joy” for October, “kindness” for November and “patience” for December.
The entire PLU community is encouraged to submit lyrics for the alma mater tune, with the winning lyricist receiving a gift certificate for two to Teatro ZinZanni in Seattle, courtesy of KPLU.

The contest—like Chapel itself—represents quite a collaboration of campus and community constituencies.

“We partner with quite a few groups, such as the Women’s Center and Wang Center for Global Education,” she said. “When they’ve had special events, we feature a speaker from the conference (for example, the Chapel speaker Sept. 26, Dr. Aana Marie Vigen of Loyola University, Chicago, also is a speaker at PLU’s Lutheran Studies Conference). We also partner with the Music Department. They’ve been very generous with choirs and music students.”

That spirit of collaboration runs through Chapel, into Campus Ministries and into the community and beyond: Connor and her husband, fellow University Pastor Dennis Sepper, offer all sorts of involvement, engagement and outreach opportunities (in addition to Chapel’s annual, and very popular, Blessing of the Animals service each spring)—all welcoming people from any faith or no faith:

•    Students can apply to become Campus Ministry Stewards, to assist with planning and implementing programs and worship;

•    The University Congregation Council organizes fellowship and service-oriented events, helps with worship and makes decisions on behalf of the congregation;

•    The student-run University Congregation offers opportunities for students to work as worship assistants (ushers, Communion assistants, lectors, intercessors and cantors); and

•    Campus Ministries offers opportunities in Holden Evening Prayer sessions, the worship band Deliverance, Chapel Choir and hands-on service projects.

Oh—and there’s this: free snacks after every Chapel service.