The new chapel theme for the 2019-20 school year is “Hello, Hope.”
A committee made up of faculty, staff and students collaborate to come up with a new chapel theme each spring for the following school year.
Campus Pastor Tamara Shelton said that the committee has a unique way of choosing the theme each year.
“The committee prays through and thinks through what’s going on throughout campus,” Shelton said. “Even more so than that, we pray through what God’s heart is for our campus this year.”
Shelton said that the committee recognized that God’s heart for us is to always live in hope.
“When we think about hope, it’s something that we all need,” Shelton said. “It also can mean something different to everyone, which I think is really beautiful.”
The preaching series for each chapel will be based on conversations that Jesus had with groups of people throughout the gospels.
“The idea is that we, as a community, can insert ourselves into those stories,” she said. “When Jesus asks someone a question in a conversation, we’re able to put ourselves in that place as if Jesus was asking us that question.”
Shelton said that the theme relates directly to Jesus, because he is seen as the “hope of the world.”
“‘Hello, Hope,’ then is essentially a conversation with Jesus,” Shelton said. “‘Hello’ indicates relationship and conversation. Below the surface, we are having a conversation with Jesus who is our living hope.”
“Hope” is all about expectations, and Shelton said it gives us the opportunity to have an openness to new possibilities.
“Regardless of whatever difficulties we’re living in or what we’re facing, there’s still hope available,” Shelton said. “There’s still the possibility of something new in the midst of those struggles.”
Shelton said that she hopes that this theme can be something that brings everyone together and something that everyone can all rally around.
Department chair of kinesiology Dr. Diana Jones is a member of the spiritual life advisory council that selects the chapel theme each year.
“In the spring, we met several times to discuss the spiritual climate of campus,” Jones said. “We decided that the theme needs to reflect the culture and what’s happening on campus among the students and faculty.”
Jones said that one of the first ideas they came up with was the idea of doubt in your faith.
“It’s okay to wrestle with big questions,” she said. “We wanted our theme to represent that even in our questions, God gives us the answers, and those answers lead us to hope.”
The committee wanted to somehow tie that idea in with what Jesus did on Earth with his ministry.
“In the gospels, there are people who ask God questions and he asks them questions,” Jones said. “In the questioning, he gives them hope in the answer.”
Jones gave an example of how, after Peter betrayed Jesus, Jesus asked him if he still loved him. She said that Jesus asks really big questions like, “Do you still love me?” and, “What do you want from me?”
She said they really want students to know that it’s okay to wrestle and it’s okay for God to ask us hard questions, too.
“As we work through the questions, we realize that our only hope is in Jesus Christ,” Jones said. “Hope is a certainty that he is going to do what he says he will.”
Jones said that at the end of the day, the theme shows us to grab onto that hope despite our anxiety and stresses of the school year.
Some speakers for upcoming chapels this year include Garrett Howell, the Rev. Dr. Rolland Davis, the Rev. Jeannette Flynn and more. The schedule can be found at anderson.edu and also on the AndersonU app.