Spiritual Life Recap



Spirit chapel live streams.

Remember when we filed into the arena and caught up with friends as we found our seats until the lights dimmed for worship? Then a speaker would share a message, or, as was our favorite, their own story? A break during which we could breathe, reflect, relax, and get out of the classroom?

This year was inescapably different. Separated by clear folding dividers and surgical masks, we couldn’t gather together. Yet, despite the inability to congregate in the arena for chapel, both the chapel band, AV, and spiritual life team have all worked faithfully to provide a time of worship and reflection for students–digitally. Confined in the classroom with our eyes fixed on the screen, we shared this time by watching the streamed message and music.

Mr. Yousef, AV and chapel band director, outlines the thought process of the leaders as they worked out how to approach this year: “Our mission for chapel has always been to worship God as a community through sound teaching of his word and through music. So the biggest questions we had to ask were 1) how can we stay connected as a community? and 2) how do we reach students where they’re at?”

The team experimented with editing, audio-visuals, speakers, and music not only to fulfill these goals, but also to explore their possibilities with a free rein. The band pulled from multiple genres and played with editing styles to create an engaging worship experience; the location of speakers around the school changed weekly with different camera angles to keep students engaged, and for the Christmas chapel, the team decorated the theater stage with warm and festive lighting.

Inevitably, though, the virtual format posed some challenges: tech issues and poor wifi, of course, but also concerns at the fundamental level. Spiritual Life director Mr. Ottolini says, “A continual challenge is keeping the attention of the student body for the entire chapel time, as well as making the content applicable to 7th graders up to seniors who are all in different phases of life and spiritual development.” Can the students relate to those who share their stories? Does the message reach them? 

He continues, “This is the beauty and challenge of working with the next generation. You have to constantly contextualize the way you communicate the truth to how they understand and receive it.” He intentionally tried to include more student speakers and keep the messages short, as students tend to prefer.

Mr. Ottolini concludes, “We want chapel to be an honor to the Lord and a means by which students fall more in love with Jesus. I would like to see genuine faith abound at Westminster and that be expressed in Christ-like joy, devotion to his Word, and applied to how each student lives. This is an amazingly big task, but we serve an amazingly big God.”