Worship at Berea College
In order to aid the College in fulfilling its mission , the Campus Christian Center plans and offers diverse experiences of Christian worship for the community of Berea College. In addition, the Campus Christian Center supports and encourages students from other religious traditions to participate in their own forms of worship. Because Berea College does not require students to hold membership in a Christian church or any other religious community, in keeping with its understanding of the place of religion in an academic environment and its understanding of its historic Christian identity and heritage, the College does not require students to attend worship. Religious practice of any kind remains voluntary at Berea College.
The Campus Christian Center exists to support the commitment of the College to its Christian heritage. Because Christians at Berea College come from many different Christian communities and traditions, the Campus Christian Center offers many different kinds or patterns of Christian worship.
Worship in Danforth Chapel
On a weekly basis, the Campus Christian Center plans a worship service on Tuesdays at noon, in Danforth Chapel in the Draper Building. The Campus Christian Center plans and offers diverse services of Christian worship within an ecumenical Christian atmosphere. This pattern of worship includes regularly-scheduled styles and forms of African-American worship through the Center’s Jubilee Program. The worshipers also share the mid-day meal together in the Fireside Room, immediately following worship at 12:30 p.m. The Center regards both the time in the worship of God and the time of table-fellowship with colleagues and friends as essential to engender and nurture community. The staff of the Center has designed this worship experience as stylistically semi-formal, with readings from Christian scriptures, a short sermon or homily, responsive readings or litanies, one or two hymns, and usually some form of special music by a soloist or one of the College music ensembles. Several student religious groups or organizations also plan various forms of worship at other times during the week.
Major Events of Worship on Campus
The Campus Christian Center plans or co-sponsors with other departments on campus several large worship experiences each year: (1) the Ceremony of Dedication in Phelps Stokes Chapel at the beginning of the year; (2) the All Peoples Worship Service, co-sponsored with the Office of Academic Services at the beginning of the academic year; (3) an opening convocation in the fall semester each year, also in Phelps Stokes Chapel, during which the Center provides some form of contemporary Christian music and introduces new students and churches in this area to one another; (4) a convocation in Phelps Stokes Chapel, as the last service of the Accent on Christian Faith Homily Series, also during the fall semester, in which a noted minister or theologian delivers a sermon or lecture on an issue of relevance for Christian spirituality in the contemporary world; (5) the Celebration of Christmas, in partnership with the Department of Music and Church of Christ, Union in Berea, which occurs as a service of Christmas music and attracts approximately 1,000 people each year in early December; (6) the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commemoration, in partnership with the Black Cultural Center and Church of Christ, Union, which occurs in the church during January each year; and (7) the Baccalaureate Worship Service, co-sponsored with the Office of the President, which occurs in May each year.
Special Services of Worship on Campus
The Campus Christian Center, often in partnership with other departments on campus, also holds other special services of Christian worship during the year. On All Saints Day and Ash Wednesday each year, the Center observes special forms of prayer and worship in Danforth Chapel. During the summer each year, the Campus Christian Center works with the Office of Alumni Relations to offer an alumni/ae memorial service during the summer reunion. The Campus Christian Center annually offers a Service of Interfaith Worship and Meditation in Danforth Chapel, which includes readings, prayers, and meditations from various religious traditions. The Center, in partnership with the Learning Center, other departments, and the Jewish Student Association, also holds an annual Holocaust Remembrance Service in Danforth Chapel.
Additional Support for Student Worship
The Campus Christian Center proides much support to help students find the appropriate styles and forms of worship for themselves during their collegiate experience. Much worship at Berea College occurs in the residence halls. The Campus Christian Center, in partnership with the Department of Residential Life Collegium, provides the Student Chaplain Program to support and encourage spiritual growth of students. Student Chaplains, who serve as spiritual leaders and Resident Assistants, live and minister in the residence halls. Some of their duties include planning worship experiences for the interested residents in their respective halls. In addition, the Campus Christian Center occasionally works with students to help them with transportation to various locations of worship (churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples) in the surrounding area, when no similar communities exist in or around the town of Berea itself. The Center also provides space and resources for the weekly worship and devotions of student religious organizations on campus.
The Campus Christian Center also provides and maintains the All Peoples Prayer Chapel, located in the Alumni Building of the Crossroads Complex. The College designed this small Chapel for use by students, staff, and faculty of any religious faith, tradition, or community, but especially for members of the College community from non-Christian religious traditions or communities, for the purpose of prayer and contemplation. The Center took the name for this chapel from the Christian biblical text that serves as the College motto and appears in the mission statement of the College, and thematizes the College Seal: “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” (Acts 17:26). The Campus Christian Center maintains and supervises this Chapel. Located at the crossroads of the campus, All Peoples Prayer Chapel reflects and enhances the commitment that informs the mission, values, commitments, and identity of Berea College.