Outdoor Chapels and Open Minds

Written by: Daeana Barkubein, staff writer

DAYTON, Tenn.— After resuming classes on campus for the FA20 semester, Bryan College held its first outdoor chapel on the lawn in front of Summers Gym at 9 p.m. on August 11 to provide students an opportunity to worship corporately and to hear an address from Dr. Doug Mann, the college’s president.

Following the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the setup of the event consisted of hundreds of spaced-out chairs.

Coupled with physical distancing and mask-wearing, holding mass gatherings outside reduces the risk of transmitting COVID-19 because the virus has to withstand wind, heat and humidity. 

To this end, the administration has been working hard to ensure both safety and comfort for students.

Nick Pacurari, Director of Residence Life and Student Engagement said, “We want this to not be a bad experience for students. We want, despite it not being ideal circumstances, to give students the best possible experience that we can. So, moving it to the evening was solely about the weather being more comfortable at the time.”

One improvement is the distance between students and the stage, according to Jack Saunders, Bryan’s Director of Leadership and Culture who helps coordinate chapel.

“[T]he distance between the stage and everyone else was pretty significant. We’re doing our best to try to improve that as well as the lighting and the sound,” said Saunders.

To resolve spacing issues a barrier rope will be installed behind the seats, and instead of spreading the chairs backward, the chairs will be spread out more to the sides, according to Pacurari.

More important than any adjustment that can be made is the remedy of keeping an open mind.

What comes with the many modifications to Bryan’s campus life is the privilege of having campus life as many colleges across the nation risk having to shut down and hold classes virtually due to COVID-19 transmission on campus.

Saunders said, “I would just say to the students that are finding the limitations and restrictions difficult, I totally sympathize, but when it comes to the alternative, it is a gift to be able to interact in this way and to share the campus together.”

Rather than focusing on inconvenience, students should be finding ways to model Christ-like behavior amidst the current circumstances by making the most of every situation, putting others’ safety first and extending grace to faculty and staff members tasked with organizing events such as the outdoor chapels.

Daeana Barkubein is a freshman staff writer for the Bryan Triangle majoring in literature and minoring in communication. When not studying, she enjoys knitting, painting and many other hobbies.