It was announced last year that there would be changes to chapel in the 2016-2017 school year, including revamping the way that chapel worship was organized.
Chapel auditions this fall were set up differently than in past years, with audition times set aside for bands and individuals. The bands were then selected for a year-long rotation, rather than pieced together month-by-month as they had been previously.
There are seven groups in the rotation for chapel worship this year, each with their own individual styles and sounds, which will vary from acoustic to contemporary, from gospel-inspired to indie. In addition to the set bands, there will be chapels led by the New Image Gospel Choir.
The goal is for students to be able to get to know those who will lead them in worship this year, so that worship can develop a consistency that might have been lacking in the past.
“My prayer is that students would not only sing the words on the screens, but that they would think about what they are proclaiming,” said Logan Hauer, a junior accounting major who will lead a folk-style worship band with Josh Paff, a senior marketing major.
“Anyone can sing a song and a few people can sing songs well, but I love it when I sing a song and the words really set in,” Hauer said. “Ultimately, our goal is for students to have personal interactions with the Lord during worship. The set chapel bands will help create this opportunity for students. These bands will develop chemistry over the year and will hopefully be well-rehearsed and actively participating in worship from the stage.”
Payton Lantz, a junior family science major, will lead a band focused on acoustic sets.
“Since my band’s sets will be more acoustic, the songs that we’ll do will be more stripped down and intimate,” said Lantz. “It’s something that not a lot of people are used to, but when embraced, it can create a really beautiful worship atmosphere.”
Another acoustic band, led by junior psychology and dance business major Alicen Baumgarten, will feature a piano, violin and cello. With their “airy” sound, said Baumgarten, students will be able to “feel the stillness of God.”
Brie Gonda is a junior psychology major who will lead an indie/rock band with Kris Epperson, a sophomore computer science major. They, much like those leading other worship bands this year, hope that their turns leading worship will be filled with more than just music.
“The band that I help lead really emphasizes the importance of creating a space where people from all different backgrounds can come together and experience God in a new way,” said Gonda.
“We hope that chapel worship can be a time and place where students and staff can come and take a moment to relax and be still in the presence of God and for a moment, detach from everyday stresses and be vulnerable and appreciate all that God has done, is doing, and will do. Most importantly, we hope that those who experience worship will leave changed. That no one would leave the sacred space we’ve helped create feeling unmoved by the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
Will McBeath, a sophomore music business and business administration major, thinks that chapel-goers will appreciate the comradery of the band that he leads. His band plays at more than just chapel—they lead worship at Celebration Church at Arrow Heights every week.
“You can definitely expect some gospel tunes to pop up, and for some soul to be flowing from the stage,” said McBeath.
More than anything, though, the worship leaders want students, faculty and all who attend chapel to know that the worship isn’t about the music, but about the connection created to God in the process.
“We want to help engage the community at Anderson with heartfelt and honest worship, and make it feel like we are all one body singing together to praise God as opposed to feeling like a concert,” said McBeath.
Maddie Harper is a junior psychology and youth leadership development major who will lead a mostly contemporary band with Logan Baker, a senior psychology major. Harper, too, hopes that worship will connect in new ways for people this year.
“I hope that students will feel free to worship in whatever way they please this year,” Harper said. “I hope that those who haven’t experienced the love of Christ will feel his presence during the worship and message. Also that those who have journeyed for years with Jesus will feel refreshed with His truth. We look forward to worshiping with you!”