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A guide for theological reflection in campus chapel services

Tamie and I worked for two years as assistant chaplains at St John’s University of Tanzania, a university founded in 2007 by the Anglican Church of Tanzania. St John’s offers programs in education, business administration, nursing, and pharmacy, as well as some research degrees, and a school of theology.

Towards the end of 2014, I was invited to give input to the programming of the university chapel service at the main campus, which at the time ran for half an hour each weekday morning, with 30-40 staff and faculty members attending. There was a desire to do more to incorporate students. It was a dual language environment (Swahili and English).

A chapel on campus is not an ordinary church service because it is part of a shared space for learning, the university (or college). It is a space where pastors and other Christian leaders can enter into partnership with the university’s teachers, students, and staff.

What I created is a guide for using interviews as a means of theological reflection in the chapel services. My aim was to move the chapel service from being mainly a church space towards being more of a campus space. This sees the chaplaincy not as the spiritual hub of the campus, but as a steward/curator of spiritual realities present all over the campus (as indicated by the accompanying ‘spiritual map’). The interviews are an attempt to gear the campus chapel to the world of the campus and the wider society in which the campus exists.

I’m thankful for the wonderful input of three people I met through an IFES email group. Rev Dr Valerie Michaelson (Anglican chaplain at Queen’s University) and Kathy Cooper (an InterVarsity director at Brown University) each provided me with current examples of campus-minded theological reflection. The ‘spiritual map’ is a prayer approach from Dr Stephen Ney (Assistant Professor at the University of the Gambia). I’m also grateful for Rev Canon Dr Alfred Sebahene (Director of Extension Education at St John’s) who helped us with the Swahili text.

Here it is, for your interest and adaptation, as yet unused:

Image credit: jpkso

Categories: University ministry Written by Arthur

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Arthur Davis

Arthur Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

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