Campus returns to full schedule of worship services
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Like so many other events on the Grand Canyon University campus, Chapel and The Gathering are ready to hit the reset button in the 2021-22 academic year.
The pandemic forced the cancellation or curtailment of most gatherings. Students attending Chapel sat amid the cardboard cutouts used for sports events, and the Gathering had to be moved outside to the Quad.
But they’re back to normal this fall, and University leaders are eager to see the usual big crowds for both – especially in light of the falloff in church attendance around the country.
“I think there’s a great opportunity for students this fall to do what the church community really needs from future leaders, which is to create a positive reset going forward and to say that worshipping in community is important,” said Dr. Tim Griffin, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students and Campus Pastor.
“I think it could be a reset for God’s people to look at young leaders and say, ‘This is important that we get together and we worship together and we listen to God’s Word together and we pray together and we do fellowship together.’ Too many people have checked out on doing that. It could be a really great reset button for spiritual life in general.”
Griffin would love to be able to show the community that GCU Arena is full week after week for Chapel, which starts at 11 a.m. Mondays beginning Sept. 13. The message would be clear, in his mind: “Listen, we didn’t miss a beat. We missed last year because we were abiding by the protocols. But, going forward, young leaders, young Christians in college, they have voted with their feet.”
The date of the first Chapel, normally on the first day of classes, was pushed back two weeks this year because Welcome Week was the week before Labor Day for the first time. To fill in the gap, the annual Ignite Worship Night was moved from Welcome Week to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, in the Arena.
The Gathering, a more intimate weekly worship service in Antelope Gymnasium, then will begin the following Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Chapel and The Gathering both begin with music by all-student Worship teams. An inspirational talk follows, by a visiting pastor, ministry coordinator or University leader.
They are the two most important and moving events on campus just about every week. Griffin has looked out in wonder at the big crowds that stream in.
“It’s just been amazing that we come to campus every year and here’s this batch of students who say, ‘This is important to me,’” he said.
“It’s word of mouth. When they’re telling each other, ‘You’ve got to be part of this,’ it organically takes off.”
The list includes links to some of speakers’ past talks if they’re returnees or information about them if they’re a first-time visitor:
Sept. 13 – Brian Mueller, GCU President
- Mueller applies the wisdom of Good Samaritan story
- God’s love is where the action is, Mueller tells Chapel
- We have free rein to help others, Mueller tells Chapel
Sept. 20 – Terry Mackey, Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church
- Mackey links humility, prayer with story of Uzziah
- Chapel receives passionate lesson in ‘Mackey-ology’
- Chapel message: Nothing to fear, even this year
Sept. 27 – Dr. Tim Griffin, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students and Campus Pastor
- Griffin centers Chapel talk on shifting margins
- Griffin to Chapel: Elect to put your faith in Jesus
- In 1st Chapel, Griffin urges unified commitment
Oct. 4 – Jeff Dyer, Heartfire Missions
- A trained ear, nose and throat surgeon, Dyer regularly goes to the Middle East and Central America and helps students to leap out of their comfort zones on life-changing medical mission trips. His passion is researching and teaching God’s Word. “He’s the coolest dude,” Griffin said. “I think the students will fall in love with him.”
Oct. 11 – Musical Worship Chapel
Oct. 18 – Ashley Wooldridge, Christ’s Church of the Valley
- Don’t fall into failure’s trap, Wooldridge tells Chapel
- A Chapel talk that’s truly in the name of God
Oct. 25 – Jodi Hickerson, Mission Church, Ventura, California
Nov. 1 – Brian Hommel, Unlimited Potential
- The Arizona Diamondbacks trainer rescues girls from sex trafficking and gets players and coaches involved.
Nov. 8 – John Talley, Roosevelt Community Church
- He’s on staff at the same church where Vermon Pierre is the Lead Pastor. Pastor delivered this Chapel talk in February 2020.
Nov. 15 – Jason Fritz, Illuminate Community Church
- He comes highly recommended from a church attended by many GCU students.
Nov. 22 – Thanksgiving Chapel
Nov. 29 – Chris Brown, North Coast Church, Vista, California
- Brown’s return to Chapel is charged with emotion
- Chris Brown rivets Chapel with prodigal son story
- From start to finish, Brown’s Chapel talk is direct
Dec. 6 – Christmas Chapel
Sept. 7 – Ignite Worship Night
Sept. 14 – Dr. Tim Griffin, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dean of Students and Campus Pastor
Sept. 21 – Scott Savage, Cornerstone Church, Prescott, Arizona
Sept. 28 – Worship Night
Oct. 5 – Donald Glenn, Director, Diversity and Inclusion Office
Oct. 12 – Kelsie Doan, GCU Spiritual Life
Oct. 19 – Cory Tubbs, GCU Spiritual Life
Oct. 26 – Worship Night
Nov. 2 – David Lemus, Movement Church, Laguna Hills, California
Nov. 9 – Prayer Night
Nov. 16 – Jon Jennings, Pure Heart Church, Phoenix
Nov. 30 – Worship Night
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
GCU Magazine: Students have lifted campus worship to new heights