Fall Chapel speakers will address important topics
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
When Dr. Tim Griffin, Pastor and Dean of Students at Grand Canyon University, sat down with his Spiritual Life team last spring to talk about the Chapel schedule for the 2017-18 academic year, they came up with a list of important Christian issues that are especially important to students.
The speakers then could choose from the list, and the result is a lineup packed with topics that are meaningful to a wide range of people.
Chapel starts at 11:15 a.m. every Monday (except holidays and breaks) during the academic year with 15 minutes of music by one of the three student-led Chapel bands, followed by a speaker’s in-depth talk. GCU students, faculty and staff are encouraged to make Chapel part of their schedule; for employees, it is considered part of the workday.
There will be five new speakers in the fall semester, but three are familiar to people at the University. Here’s a rundown of the speakers and, where applicable, their topic:
Aug. 28 – Brian Mueller, President, Grand Canyon University: Traditional opening speaker every semester. It’s always packed, it’s always passionate.
Sept. 4 – No Chapel (Labor Day)
Sept. 11 – Ron Merrell, The Heights Church: He’s one of the regulars and always brings a strong message wrapped in a quirky sense of humor. He will talk about pain, suffering and loss.
Sept. 18 – Warren Stewart Jr., Church of the Remnant: Fasten your seat belt – he’s another returnee and is one of the most powerful speakers you’ll ever hear. His topic: sharing the Gospel. Griffin noted that Merrell and Stewart were among the first speakers to choose from the list. “That is a great sign,” Griffin said. “They’re engaged. They want to be relevant and address students where they live and what they’re experiencing and what some of their needs are.”
Sept. 25 – Don and Renee Worcester, Young Life: They are new to Chapel but have been doing counseling in Phoenix for years and have led GCU student leader retreats. They will talk about an extremely important issue for anyone in attendance – relationships. “We wanted somebody to focus on relationships early in the semester, to give students an opportunity to think through what it means to connect to fellow students, to date, to be in leadership and all those kinds of responsibilities,” Griffin said.
Oct. 2 – Griffin: Like Mueller, he addresses Chapel once a semester and is an experienced and thought-provoking speaker.
Oct. 9 – Alan Shlemon, Stand to Reason: This will be the launch of an annual bioethics (euthanasia, abortion, etc.) conference that Griffin believes will become a “staple experience.” Shlemon’s first trip to GCU will be followed by breakout sessions in the afternoon. Already penciled in for the fall of 2018 is widely renowned speaker Joni Eareckson Tada, who founded Joni and Friends after a diving accident left her paralyzed.
Oct. 16 – Fr. Greg Boyle, Homeboy Ministries: Another newcomer, and another ground-breaking talk. Fr. Boyle is a Catholic priest in east Los Angeles who takes kids off the street and out of prison and turns them into contributing members of society. “I think students will be captivated by his talk,” Griffin said. “I went online and saw his TED talk, which was absolutely incredible, and I thought, ‘If there’s any way we could get this guy to come speak, that would be amazing.’”
Oct. 23 – Terry Crist, Hillsong Church Phoenix: This starts a string of returnees. Crist has spoken all around the world, and in his last visit to Chapel he spoke passionately about the importance of the strong women in the Bible.
Oct. 30 – Beth Guckenberger, Back to Back Ministries: The story of how she started an orphanage in Mexico has made her a Chapel regular. The topic she chose off Griffin’s list is social issues.
Nov. 6 – Noe Garcia, North Phoenix Baptist Church: He came to Chapel last spring and bared his soul about his troubled childhood in Houston, and this time he’ll be talking about identity.
Nov. 13 – Brian Kruckenberg, New City Church: Now here’s a topic that should provoke some thought. Kruckenberg’s talk will be about authority.
Nov. 20 – No Chapel (fall break)
Nov. 27 – Danielle Rinnier, Grand Canyon University: The Director of Spiritual Life has spoken at Chapel in the summer and at The Gathering on Tuesday nights, but never to the big Monday morning gathering. So she counts as a new speaker. Her topic will be fear and anxiety.
Dec. 4 – Tom Shrader, Redemption Church: His off-the-wall sense of humor will wrap up the semester’s talks. A sampling: “I made a list of what I love: pizza, movies, music, Iowa football. I love Grand Canyon. I also love Peoria — I don’t know if anybody’s ever said that.” His talk on unconditional love last November included this thought: “God loves you in spite of you, not because of you. You and I love in this conditional way — I love you if, I love you when, I love you because. God loves you. He cannot love you anymore than He does right now, and He’s never going to love you any less.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].