News • September 03, 2020

Past offerings helped ease CBU’s pivot to virtual chapel

Past offerings helped ease CBU’s pivot to virtual chapel

Riverside, Calif. (Sept. 3, 2020) – For Dr. John Montgomery, dean of Spiritual Life, chapel is one of the unique aspects of California Baptist University.

“Because we’re a Christian institution of higher education, we integrate the Christian faith in the classroom,” Montgomery said. “But another way that we’re distinctive is by chapel.”

Although gatherings are prohibited this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Montgomery and Spiritual Life staff were easily able to pivot to virtual chapel. This is due to their experience of offering an alternative chapel the last 13 years for students unable to physically attend chapel. Students must attend 15 chapels a semester.

Alternative chapel started as an audio podcast then moved to video in January 2019. It included a welcome from Montgomery, an interview with the speaker, the message and music. The videos also incorporated TechSmith Knowmia, a learning technology that prompts students to answer questions throughout the pre-recorded videos. 

“We learned what works and what doesn’t,” Montgomery said. “Our goal is to draw the student into the experience.”

Previously, video would be pulled from live chapel. This fall, however, everything will be taped without a live audience. The band and the speaker will instead focus on the camera as if addressing the students individually, Montgomery said. The band will be taped in the Events Center while speakers will be taped on campus or at their church.

To keep the students engaged, the message will be given in three 8-minute segments and the entire chapel will last approximately 45 minutes.

“The idea is let’s have different segments so we keep things moving and keep people’s attention,” Montgomery said.

Worship will still include diverse musical styles, said Hector Gabriel Jimenez, assistant professor of music and chapel worship leader.

“The purpose of worship music is to glorify God and that will remain the same even in a virtual context,” Jimenez said. “We’re really excited and optimistic that our student body is going to engage with the songs, be inspired by them and be challenged by them.”

The chapels will be posted on Blackboard most Tuesdays and some Thursdays. Students will have a week to watch the video and answer the questions.

Speakers will include pastors Greg Laurie (Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside), Matt Brown (Sandals Church, Riverside), Ricky Jenkins (Southwest Church, Indian Wells) and Noe Garcia (North Phoenix Baptist Church, Phoenix).

“It’s not everything that it could be if it was in person, but it’s better than not doing anything at all,” Montgomery said. “It’s so important that we’re reminded every week of who we are, who made us who we are and who we owe that debt to.”

Chapels will be posted for the public at https://calbaptist.edu/spiritual-life/chapel/