Chapel services not the same online

Maybe one of the most recognizable buildings at Baker University, the Osborne Memorial Chapel, has a special place in the lives of many who have experienced the Thursday morning chapel services.

The Methodist values that our university was founded on, and are still based on, probably never fathomed a time when people could experience a chapel service on campus without physically being in the nearly 150-year old Methodist chapel.

For the current era, the idea of simply posting clips, or even full chapel services, on YouTube for people to see around the world is actually something that many other religious communities have also done.

Many students might be so involved that the time put aside for chapel is needed for studying or having a quick lunch and making chapel easier to access through the web is a great solution.

Online chapel is also a good solution for students that are studying abroad or away for a sporting event but still want to be able to experience chapel.

But this may come at a cost.

For those who actually attend chapel services each week, it is a wonderful time to truly experience the service.

A disconnect may grow if people rely on the chapel video for their weekly services.

It will be important for those who enjoy the chapel community to continue to strive for people to come and actually experience chapel on Thursdays, rather than watch it on YouTube.

Hopefully, the posting of the services online may work as a sort of advertising, to show students, and those outside the community, what chapel is really like.

Even alumni might be able to reconnect to Baker as a result of this new venue to re-experience what their life was like at Baker.

But anyone that has been a part of a chapel service at Baker knows how special it can be, from start to finish.

University Minister Ira DeSpain meets everyone at the door and gives every person a handshake, a smile and in some cases a hug.

They know how it sounds when a room full of voices is singing together and they know how it feels to see DeSpain smile at you as he is giving the message to the crowd.

Those are things you can’t experience on YouTube.

Sure, if students chose to watch chapel on YouTube instead warming up a pew they might get a few more minutes of homework time or a quick nap in before their afternoon class, but there is something about the vibe in the room that no person can get from a computer screen, no matter how hard they try.

So, while the services will be posted online, students, faculty and staff should still do what they can to experience chapel services in person.