JBU Chapel Bands Serve In Worship

Worship Teams Serve the JBU Community

By William Newton
11/15/2021 7:00:00 PM

Article Photo

Since JBU’s founding, chapel has been core to the JBU experience. Held in the historic Cathedral of the Ozarks, the twice-weekly chapel services bring students, faculty and staff together to worship God and study his word. The services have become a sacred rhythm that reminds attendees of the truth and purpose undergirding the demands and responsibilities of their days. Until the incorporation of contemporary worship music in chapel services in the ’90s, the JBU community was typically led by the university’s Cathedral Choir in traditional hymns. 

But in 2009, when Jen Edwards ’03, Ph.D., became a faculty member, she introduced a new chapel worship model.

“When I came, I decided to try and build a system that closely modeled the local church,” said Edwards, associate professor of worship arts and department head for music and theatre. “Each leader leads a band, and that band stays together the whole year. Essentially, these are the ‘volunteers’ you’re leading.”

Each year, Edwards puts together four chapel bands with one or two leaders and several musicians who also serve as extra vocalists.

Edwards encourages band leaders and members to incorporate a range of musical styles into their sets from traditional hymns to contemporary songs to leading familiar songs in different languages represented within the community. This encouragement is designed to engage and edify JBU’s interdenominational community.

Keith Jagger, Ph.D., university chaplain, emphasizes the importance of JBU chapel bands in the unifying worship experience that reminds us that God is with us.

“Chapel band leaders serve as the main designers of this space,” said Jagger,” While a few of us have the privilege of guiding student leaders along in the work, there is something symbolic about peer leadership in this space. As a community of young people are establishing their own faith, being guided by fellow students who they look up to is important,” .

Chloe Bishop, senior worship arts and graphic design major, joined a chapel band so she could minister to the campus community as the chapel bands minister to her. 

“It’s a cool way to serve the JBU community and not just serve in the church,” Bishop said. “I really love being led by my fellow students when I’m not on stage.”

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic required social distancing in the 20-21 academic year, chapel had to be reimagined. Students could no longer meet as a community in the cathedral and instead met in smaller chapel groups, where prerecorded messages were played. Chapel bands also prerecorded worship songs that were played before each message. (Scan the QR code to view “Satisfied in You”.)

Finding a way to have collective worship was still critical, so JBU held Worship on the Quad on Sunday evenings, as a chance for students, faculty and staff to come together — socially distanced — and worship outdoors and hear a short message. 

“Worship on the Quad was definitely a bright spot and a moment of refreshment for the student body,” Bishop said. 

Aug. 24, 2021, marked the first time students met together for chapel in 18 months. The student body was visibly excited and marked the service with cheers, clapping and a very moved chapel speaker, JBU President Chip Pollard. 

“When all of the students were back, we all kind of felt emotional and appreciated it,” said Bishop.

Share via

Share Icon:Share on FacebookShare Icon:Email this PageShare Icon:Share on Twitter