Virtual Community Chapel gatherings unite community

Emmy Zhang and Lily Lee

Despite the absence of the collective voices of student performers and the colored stained glass windows that illuminate St. Saviour’s Chapel , the Community Chapel Time continues to unite students and faculty virtually.

Since the beginning of the school year, the Community Chapel Time has been taking place on Zoom every Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. Reverend Anne Gardner, who is new to the school this year, begins each service by introducing the overarching theme of the gathering. Readers then recite scriptures from secular and nonsecular texts.

After the speakers, Gardner reflects upon the chosen excerpts and connects them to the meeting’s theme, which applies to people of all beliefs and persuasions.

“My reflection is not tailor-made for a Christian audience,” Gardner said. “I have had participants from various traditions. [Everyone] is welcome; it’s not exclusively for people who share my own Christian faith.”

Chapel gatherings include music and prayers

Her reflection is followed by a cappella musical performances that range from gospel to pop music, giving all those who attend the opportunity to contemplate the messages of the meeting while enjoying the melodies of student soloists. Gardner concludes the Community Chapel Time with a personal prayer.

Chamber Singers member Shanti Hinkin ’22, an atheist, performed Leon Bridges’s “River” during a meeting Oct. 6 and also gained a new understanding of religion and its impact on social justice.

“[The session] I went to talked about the passage of the Bible that’s often used to speak against gay marriage,” Hinkin said. “[ Garner ] navigated beautifully as she talked about the misconceptions of that selection. It was really educational and made me see how much religion influences politics and people’s attitudes.”

Because of the large turnout of 75 people, Gardner wants to continue conducting these virtual meetings even after the campus reopens so that students and their families who will not be physically present at the Chapel can participate.

“Chapel time in person will be restricted by physical locale and time, which will cut down participants who would be available to join,” Gardner said. “I’m thinking about how I can engage in this kind of format in the future and utilize the gifts I’ve been given during the pandemic to make these meetings more widely available.”