The Maryville College chapel services include sermons involving a variety of religious themes. Each spring, the series emphasizes senior thesis projects about religious topics from graduating seniors.
Campus minister Rev. Dr. Anne McKee said she enjoys hearing from students that have researched religion during their time at MC.
“We like to ask the seniors who have been a part of the chapel community or who are religion majors or have a thesis that has some sort of religious topic to come and talk about that,” McKee said. “We try to get them to turn it into a sermon. We want them to tell us–how did this affect your life or how should it affect our lives? “
McKee said that students from many majors have opportunities to share their work with an audience and feels that students who study religion should have the same sort of opportunities.
“It seems to me that there aren’t that many public presentations of what they’ve been pouring their lives into for all these months.” McKee said. “Students do really good work, and it’s fun to hear about it.”
Throughout the semester, students have given sermons about a variety of topics from celebrity worship to the history and impact of boy scouts, explained McKee.
Senior Miranda Clower presented information about theologian Paul Tillich and his understanding of sin, which was part of her senior thesis project. Clower said that being able to speak in chapel was beneficial to her as a student.
“I got to share my work with others in a way that was good practice and exposure for what I will continue to do throughout my life as an academic,” Clower said. “It was fun to come together as a community and share something that I’m passionate about with people that are interested in learning about the same things.
Earlier this semester, professor of religion and philosophy Dr. Bill Meyer gave a sermon that centered on the parable of the prodigal son. Meyer has been involved with the chapel series in the past and enjoys participating.
“The College’s church-related identity is important to me,” Meyer said. “Speaking in chapel gives me an opportunity to be an example to students—to show them that one can be a person of faith and, at the same time, be fully committed to thinking critically and to careful analysis, which are central to the liberal arts.”
Meyer feels that becoming involved in chapel by giving sermons is an important opportunity for MC students.
“It is a valuable experience for students to speak in chapel because it reminds them that their thoughts, experience and voice are important in the world and in the church; it reminds them that they have something valuable to share with others,” Meyer said. “Also, the opportunity gives them experience in public speaking, which is always valuable in countless ways.”
Meyer sees chapel and sermons from both students and other speakers as important to the MC community.
“In short, I hope that MC shows students that faith, reason and life experience go together, not apart,” Meyer said.
The spring chapel series will continue weekly on Tuesday from 1:15 to 1:50 in the CCM with additional sermons presented by students. The series will conclude on April 30.