If you haven’t noticed, chapel on the Greenville University campus has taken a big turn this year. President Suzanne Davis and Dean of Students Ross Baker have headed the new chapel organization with a new title; The Wednesday Experience, also known as TWE for short. In this new setup, pastor David Hawkins has taken on preaching every Wednesday morning in the HJ long gym. Along with the Pursuit team, he leads worship before and after the message as well with the new format. Students, faculty, and staff are required to attend 13 out of 15 of these services now to meet their chapel requirements for the semester. This means that Monday chapels have been eliminated, but Thursday night Vespers and Friday morning small groups have remained largely the same.
This change has led to a lot of differing opinions amongst both students and faculty. Some students and faculty have volunteered to offer their opinions on the new setup and how it holds up against the old chapel setup.
Nina Torvisco is a sophomore who works with Pursuit and Encounter. Nina stated that she really likes the change and all of the differences that the new setup holds. She points out how quiet and underpopulated the old version of chapel was, claiming that it was just not the modern experience she was expecting coming to GU. She describes TWE as “…like going to a concert at nine o’clock in the morning.” She talks about the fun, colorful lights, heavy crowds, and diversity in the crowd between all the different guests. She also includes that she really enjoys the upbeat atmosphere “If you didn’t drink coffee that morning, you know The Wednesday Experience is gonna wake you up.”
Professor Robert Munshaw also definitely enjoys TWE. Munshaw points out how much he has enjoyed Pastor Hawkins teachings, “I think having somebody who’s consistently coming in and bringing a message that is building on itself is helpful for everybody.” He also, like Nina, pointed out how great it is to see the whole community coming together to be in the presence of God every Wednesday. The only worry he has is the worry of Covid spread within such a large group of people, but with testing numbers, things have seemed to go well thus far.
Sophomore Kaidyn Johnson had some differing opinions. He points out that he disliked the fact that the whole student body was all packed into a tight space. It seems like the gym may not be the best location with the issue of uncomfortable heat in the summer when all of these people are pressed shoulder to shoulder, but there are limited options of where the team can hold the event. Kaidyn also says that many can probably agree that “…it’s too early in the morning, for my preference.”
Trenton Lee, another sophomore, disagrees with Kaidyn a little when it comes to the spacing. He likes that there is extra room on the gym floor where he can watch and listen without too many distractions. Lee also mentioned he likes the physical setup for TWE a lot better than the old setup. “The audio design is way better. You can hear all the performers and speakers way more clearly than we used to in Whitlock.”
It seems like the consensus from this small sample group is that TWE is favored over regular chapel that used to take place in Whitlock. There are definitely a few kinks that could be worked out, but from the four interviewed and the general talk around campus, it seems like the GU chapel experience has taken a step in the right direction. There have been few complaints about the acoustics, the music, or Pastor Hawkins’ teachings. Maybe, in the future, those in charge could help the students out with a little AC sometimes!
The article was written by: Hanah Cooper, Henry Johnson III, Jack Brummel, Koream Jett, & Christian Fuentes