With each new academic year comes a new schedule of chapel speakers. This year we have also debuted two new chapel “accessories” – a printable chapel calendar that you can find on our website, and a Facebook page where you can follow information and discussions related to chapel.

I recently asked Vice President for Student Development Shawn Holtgren, Ph.D. (’95, ’97) a few questions about chapel. He has been on both sides of the chapel experience as a student and now as the coordinator of chapel speakers. Here he shares a few thoughts about chapel:

EK: How has the chapel experience changed since you were a student here at Bethel?

SH: Well, there is no longer the sweet aroma of hamburgers being grilled and chicken tenders being fried (Chapel was in the DC!). We also don’t have to set up/tear down chairs between chapel and meal time. Singing was led by a very small band, often utilizing just a song leader with a guitar. And lyrics were projected onto the screen using an overhead projector, which most current students have never experienced! For more info, check it out here.

EK: How has the chapel experience remained the same since you were a student?

SH: Two syllables: Dennis. Four syllables: awkward moments. Seriously, the presence of God still permeates our chapel services. Biblical teaching and authentic, Christ-centered worship is still a priority. Students still have their lives touched and changed by the power of God.

EK: Out of all the chapel services you have attended, what is one that stands out in your memory and why?

SH: Let me give you two. First, I’ll never forget the “kiss the pig” contest, during which the pig relieved himself all over the chapel stage (which, as you’ll remember, was also our cafeteria!). Second, I’ll never forgot the day revival broke out in chapel in 1991. It was my freshman year and it changed the course of my life and future, as well as that of many other students, not to mention the college itself.

EK: What is your favorite thing about your involvement in chapel?

SH: I love our students’ passion for God. I’ll never grow tired of seeing their white-hot worship of God expressed in chapel. I also thoroughly enjoy working with the various chapel bands over the years. Having assisted in chapel worship for nearly 17 years, I’ve had the distinct privilege of leading music and worship with some of the most talented, sincere worshipers, all of whom have impacted my life.

EK: Why do you think chapel is often described as the heartbeat of Bethel’s campus?

SH: Because God is present! Bethel means “house of God,” and we are gloriously privileged to share in His presence in chapel. More often than not, chapel guests convey to me that “there is something different about your chapels” – they too sense the overwhelming presence of the Almighty in our midst. Chapel is also the one time when our entire campus comes together for a unified purpose.

EK: What do students have to look forward to this year at chapel?

SH: This year, students can look forward to a great deal of variety. From the music and worship, to the various chapel series, to the guest artists, actors and speakers that visit, students, staff and faculty will be able to hear God’s word proclaimed in powerful ways that move us toward Christ-likeness.

Don’t forget to visit the Bethel College Chapel Facebook page and “like” it to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in chapel!