DeWayne Frazier, associate vice president for academic affairs, spearheaded the idea with the objective of providing online students with access to the same spiritual growth opportunities as the main campus students.
"The virtual chapel will allow more of the sweet spirit that students experience at Campbellsville to convey over into the online realm," Frazier said. "It is also great to be at the cutting edge of technology to engage the next generation of learners as well as seekers.
"One of the primary goals of the project was to meet students where they are in their faith and hopefully help develop some building blocks for growth."
Campbellsville worked with specialists to conduct an extensive survey of numerous Christian colleges, universities and seminaries. The study revealed that a chapel for online students had not been created, said Shane Garrison, assistant professor of educational ministries and director of theology online, who helped conceptualize the project.
Testing of the online chapel, Garrison said, will begin this spring. The university will officially release the project to the entire online student body either during the summer or fall semesters.
"With no prior models to glean from, I asked myself 'What would an online student benefit from the most to aid their own spiritual growth?'" Garrison said. "I thought immediately of worship, prayer and various Bible study options. These three are essential spiritual disciplines that help any person of faith grow in their walk with Christ."
Garrison collected pictures and videos of Campbellsville's Ransdell Chapel and submitted them to graphic designers to employ virtual reality technology. The result is an online chapel that looks like a virtual match to the university's facility.
"With these three components as the foundation, we created a virtual chapel environment where students who choose various spiritual opportunities in much like a video game format," he said.
The first part of the online chapel includes an archive section and live web streaming of the university's regularly scheduled programs. By clicking on the pulpit in the online chapel, any student, in any location, at any time, can watch previously recorded campus chapel services or a live stream of a current service.
Part two of the site includes a section, called the Bible Study Center, which is accessed by clicking on the lectern in the online chapel. The Bible Study Center has three options: The Weekly Bible Teaching, The Life of Christ and the Hope Project. The Weekly Bible Teaching consists of Garrison leading a three- to five-minute Bible study that is refreshed every Monday morning. The Life of Christ question-and-answer section is a step-by-step series exploring who Jesus is and what He did for each of us. The third section of the Bible Study Center is the Hope Project, a 12-part video journey through the Old and New Testaments. This section is "very helpful if you are new to the Christian faith or still considering what it means to believe in God," Garrison said.
Part three of the online chapel consists of The Prayer Center, which can be accessed by clicking on the candle in the online chapel. Students can post prayer requests or praise reports to be prayed for by students and staff.
Cambellsville University has more than 3,600 students and is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Joan C. McKinney is news and publications coordinator for
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