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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo

Cavanagh shares yearly chapel theme

New chapel theme focuses on connection

Connected and devoted. 

This year’s chapels will be aimed toward helping students stay connected and devoted to Christ as they navigate their educational and spiritual journeys. 

Campus Pastor Jon Cavanagh drew inspiration for this chapel theme from passages in John 15 and Acts 2. 

John 15 portrays Christ as the vine and his children as the branches and Acts 2 discusses what fellowship and devotion to prayer look like. Together, these passages provide Cavanagh’s scriptural basis for encouraging the Taylor community to stay connected to Christ as one body of believers.

“The idea being, ‘what are the routines that we’re in, staying connected to Christ?’” Cavanagh said. “Is that connection to Christ at the heart of our routines?”

Cavanagh feels as though this theme is reflective of the setting in which the university and its students currently stand.

In a new administration’s second year, many questions have been answered and much has been determined that was not in the past. He feels this year’s chapels will be a great space for reflection and recognition of what Taylor is all about.

“I think that this space and chapel [provides] a chance to help reinforce some of the healthy routines that we can be in and also recognizing just the heart of who we are and what we’re about,” Cavanagh said. “It really does revolve around being connected to Christ in a healthy and regular way.”

Establishing a healthy routine is an idea that Cavanagh believes to be extremely beneficial. 

He hopes that chapel is integrated into students’ routines because of the power and value that corporate worship often brings.

“I hear students saying that they would rather do something else besides the corporate worship feel in chapel, and I get that, it’s just that you can’t really recreate 1,000 people in the room together on your own schedule,” Cavanagh said. “And so there is a required portion of that that actually adds to the value, which is everybody in the room decided they wanted to come together and worship together.”

The chapel setting often provides that boost that students need, whether that is encouragement, prayer or simply the social aspect.

Enthusiasm in chapel is important to Cavanagh. He appreciates students’ abilities to shift from being energetic and on the louder side to being more reflective and quiet. In doing that, students are often able to be respectful of one another in that space.

Planning chapel services themed around different seasons and events is something that he strives to accomplish. This is also why he must be very adaptable when it comes to scheduling.

“Chapel tends to kind of work with where we’re at in the semester,” Cavanagh said. “Big difference between the first chapel of the semester and, you know, a kind of rainy cold November Wednesday morning. So, trying to figure out how to meet students where they’re at and encourage them in their walk.”

He is grateful for the many student leaders participating in chapel bands this year, as they serve an important role in making chapel a time of worship and reflection.

Continuing to perform “Sing, Pray, Reflect” chapels is important to Cavanagh, and the space of worship that these chapels create is one appreciated by much of the Taylor community.

This year, he is hoping to work with the chapel bands and chapel speakers to possibly incorporate some student testimonies into chapels. 

“So, trying to incorporate a student who could get up there and share for three or four minutes that would complement the worship content that’s out there, whether it’s the speaker or the music,” Cavanagh said.

Students have shared testimonies in past years at Thanksgiving and senior share chapels, and Cavanagh has noticed and appreciated how open and honest these students have been. He views this idea as a great opportunity for connection.

Looking ahead, he is excited about the wide variety of upcoming chapel speakers. Each year, he strives to present a diverse group of speakers with unique backgrounds and experiences and hopes that each speaker might connect with the student body in a special way. 

He values when students meet with him individually and often stresses the importance and value of modeling engagement and participation.

The theme, “connected and devoted,” invites students to stop and think about the ways they go about their daily routines and interact with those around them. It encourages Christ-likeness and interaction with the Word.

Cavanagh hopes that chapel will continue to offer campuswide engagement. He wants it to be a space that everyone comes to and interacts with. He wants students to not just value chapel itself, but also, the walk to and from chapel. 

“I know that we have lots of different people with lots of different responsibilities and things happening, and I am grateful that people make the space in their schedule to come to chapel,” Cavanagh said. “Not just to show up, but to show up with enthusiasm, excitement for one another, excitement for the opportunity to be together and to worship. That’s not something that I create, it’s something that exists in this place.”