The role of Chapel at Asbury University is unlike any other on campus. It is the only time that the community, including the entire resident student body, comes together in planned public meeting. The Cornerstone Project is intended to enhance Spiritual Vitality among the campus community by emphasizing principles from Scripture as faith and trust commitments; emphasizing Holiness as a transformed lifestyle; along with informing and motivating a wide range of intentional activities, such as care for the environment, social welfare concerns, multicultural exposure, media outreach, athletic activities and other examples. A Philosophy of Worship in this context must be understood to embrace all aspects of worship, not just matters of music, service order, or any single component of worship.
The Guidance Statement promotes the following goals for the corporate worship experience: (1) the worship of God through the work of Jesus Christ and the enabling of the Holy Spirit, and (2) the spiritual education, inspiration, and formation of the entire University community in the Wesleyan tradition, as expressed by the four Cornerstones of Scripture, Holiness, Stewardship, and Mission.
It is intended that every worship experience in Chapel will serve as a unique expression of shared faith in our ascended Lord. However, this does not mean that every Chapel service must be theological in a narrow sense. The Cornerstones are welcoming and inclusive. In any case, the meetings are not intended and are not regarded as a substitute for personal involvement in local church congregations.
In the University worship experiences, the general atmosphere, the music, and the substance of the message – whether congregational music in any form, preaching, testimony, drama, media presentation, liturgy, or sharing in a musical performance – all serve as main contributors to achieving these goals and should be planned accordingly. Music, for example, may be offered as a means of collective worship in many styles. There is beauty and joy in both the old and the new. These matters are Holy only in purpose, not in form. But music should be selected to enhance the worship experience and coordinate with the other elements in the program making it easier for the hearers to more easily take ownership of the experience.
Asbury University relies upon the work of God through His Holy Spirit to truly transform lives. Chapel remains at the center of that work. Chapel must be planned to encourage that work. As part of communal education in the holiness tradition, Asbury University gratefully acknowledges its rich heritage of hymns and gospel songs and welcomes new styles of musical worship as well. The Cornerstone Project embraces the truth that the Sovereign Lord is not trapped within any merely human context. Fashion, unlike truth, changes. Indeed, the Cornerstone Project includes in its auspices a new Worship Arts Major, which will be under development as an academic program during the time Phase One was introduced in 2008-2009. The Cornerstone Project is intended to enhance Spiritual Vitality by proposing in the guidelines a balance in corporate worship between congregational participation and other forms of musical ministry.
Whenever possible, adequate time should be provided in worship services for reflection, response, and/or an open invitation to use the altar.
The Chapel experience at Asbury University should align with the fulfillment of the Cornerstone Project goals in Scripture, Holiness, Stewardship, and Mission and intentionally connect these areas to the unique experiences of Asbury University’s heritage and mission as a Christian Liberal Arts university. It is understood that the Cornerstones do not refer to Chapel only. All forms of worship and occasions for worship are included in the foundational guiding principles for worship.
Flexibility and creativity are to be encouraged in the Chapel Curriculum, but educational objectives are to be established so that certain thematic content related to spiritual truths and Christian doctrine are covered within a four-year cycle.
It is essential to the strategic institutional goals that the Chapel Curriculum includes experiences that demonstrate the value of the general core curriculum in displaying the four Cornerstones. The light of the Cornerstones should be directed onto any academic course, into any organized activity on campus, and into the community members’ personal choices, so that Spiritual Vitality is strengthened and made more lively and relevant.
While the means of delivering these teachings may vary (including, for example, preaching, testimony, explanatory discourse, drama, liturgy, music of all kinds, etc.) all Chapel content is to be based upon Biblical truth. The Cornerstone Project recognizes that some Christians are guided by the calendar of the church year, and suggests that some reference to the great days of the universal body of Christ be included as appropriate as part of the worship and learning experience of the community.
The Curriculum should provide that each Cornerstone is represented in some way in the course of the Chapel experience within a single year and within the expected four-year term of university life. The emphasis and balance needed in this guideline is part of the work of the Cornerstone Council.
The actual position in the calendar of such major events as Fall Revival, Holiness Conference, etc., may be adjusted to better support the Cornerstone goals outlined in the Chapel curriculum.
One of the historic distinctives of Asbury University is required chapel three times per week, during which time the great themes of the Bible, human intellect, and the world intersect and are addressed by a wide range of speakers. Chapel remains the most central time when we proclaim Christ Jesus as our cornerstone, and the pillars of this truth are Scripture, holiness, stewardship, and mission. One of the goals of the Chapel curriculum as developed by the Cornerstone Council will be to identify those great themes of the Bible that are central to Christian living, including the topic of calling/vocation/purpose in mission or the view that we are all missionaries.
The general guidelines for Chapel should call for incorporating the Cornerstones when any new emphasis is launched, as will be the case for Phase Two.
Traditional special emphasis series need creative attention and high priority, preceded by much prayer. The University community is to be encouraged to enter into the experience of revival, commitment to missions, the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit, etc. It should also be mentioned that at other times of the day (besides Chapel) coordinated events could include forums, testimonies, or similarly related presentations.
The Cornerstone Project will endeavor to promote unity in a powerful new way. To quote President Sandra Gray in a campus news article, “It is not enough for us to know that God will always love us. His love must make a difference in the way we live our lives.” (Asbury College Ambassador, Spring 2008, p.3) The Project will enhance unity through collaborative planning and implementation of all aspects of Chapel to ensure the holistic participation of the entire worshipping community. The Cornerstone Council is based upon this intention. The Chapel curriculum will include provision for cohesive student learning experiences and increased development of student leadership that is fully supported by mentoring and/or partnering with administration, faculty, and staff. Current Chapel committees and organizing systems will be unified into a single administrative body, led by the [Officer] and the Cornerstone Council, which will have full and equitable representation of students, faculty, and staff.
The Cornerstone Project is meant to establish the Four Cornerstones as the guiding principles for the Cornerstone Council. The Cornerstone Council will develop the Chapel curriculum and function as the standing committee giving oversight to all Chapels throughout the year. The Council does not view every Chapel as a Cornerstone Chapel. There will be several that are intentionally so, and many that are not. All Chapels will relate to the Four Cornerstones in the sense that they are inclusive of the whole of orthodox Christianity.