Campbell University Office of Spiritual Life has a new home in Butler Chapel, and with it, a renewed dream for the chapel space to be a dwelling place for the university community.
Completed in 2009, the chapel has been home to time-honored traditions like Freshman Worship, Connections courses and freshman seminars, student led worship and worship for the university community as well as guest speakers, musicians and pastors from around the world. The chapel continues to be an integral space for the Divinity School, serving as the site of weekly chapel, lectures, classes and concerts — and providing a space in which students, staff and faculty experience the power of community.
Now, Spiritual Life hopes that housing its offices in the building’s annex and a revitalization of the gathering space will help open it up to students looking to connect one on one and have a quiet place for reflection and community, and will further cement the building as the spiritual center at the heart of campus.
Staff members who have relocated to Butler Chapel include Vice President for Spiritual Life Faithe Beam, Campus Minister Louisa Ward, Associate Campus Minister and Director of Campbell Youth Theological Institute Colin Kroll, and Associate Campus Minister Morgan Pajak. The Center for Church and Community as well as Community Engagement will remain in Wallace Center.
“We want our community to come and worship in Butler Chapel, but the space holds opportunity for so much more,” said Beam, who has worked with designers to come up with welcoming furniture and layout for the space. “Often, students, faculty, and staff seeking spiritual guidance naturally come to the chapel for conversation, encouragement, and prayer but there hasn’t always been a consistent presence in the space. As we relocate to these offices, we hope to be present for those who will come, and along with our community, inhabit this place in faithful ways.”
On October 20, Spiritual Life will host an Open House for students, faculty, and staff to come by to Butler Chapel for fellowship and to hear more about the new designs for the sacred space and the ways it will be used to worship and encounter God in community. On Saturday, October 23, another open house will walk alumni through the building to see the new offices and reminisce about their holy ground experiences in Butler Chapel and other places on campus.
The current gathering hall welcomes those who enter through the main doors and funnels them through to the chapel. It is already a place of hospitality as groups gather to enter worship, greet one another and spend time in conversation, and occasionally, it has been used for smaller corporate worship gatherings or personal worship opportunities. By introducing new seating and places to fellowship, study and rest, Spiritual Life hopes to embody its maxim “dwell here.”
When the chapel was designed, founding Dean of the Divinity School Michael Cogdill and collaborators thoughtfully opened up the sanctuary with wide, clear windows overlooking the busiest walkways of campus. This intentional choice was made not only to encourage the community to observe services and feel welcome rather than shut out, but to remind the worshippers within of their mission and purpose—to be the light of Christ on campus and love their campus as themselves.
“In the book of 1 Kings, Solomon dedicates a temple to the Lord, asking that the Holy Spirit would fill the temple, and that the prayers prayed within it would be heard and answered,” Cogdill said at the chapel’s opening. “Solomon asked God to always let this Temple be a place where people could find God and experience his forgiveness and love. And likewise, this is our prayer. We thank God for Butler Chapel. May it forever be a place where students, staff, faculty, friends, and all who enter can turn to God for direction, mercy, forgiveness, and love.”