Tonight I was reminded of a particularly spectacular chapel service from my time at Ouachita Baptist University. OBU is a small liberal arts school (for real) in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I loved my time there. Students at OBU were required to attended a weekly chapel. I’m sure they still are. I generally liked chapel, but there are a few that have really stuck with me over the last decade. Tonight I was reminded of those outstanding chapel services and felt the need to share my memories.
1. The Kanukuk chapel
Once a year, a guy who was somehow related to Kanukuk Kamps would come and speak. I think his name was Joe. One year, he decided to do a dramatic piece. The set up was that he was a cross maker in Biblical times. He sent a couple of college guys out into the woods surrounding our university with the instructions of bringing him a log that he could use as a prop. I don’t think he was very clear on his desired dimensions. They brought him this huge tree. When it was time for him to speak, he entered lugging that giant tree. I’m pretty sure I was not the only person scared for his safety and the safety of those around him as we watched him struggle to get the tree onto stage and then to catch his breathe enough to say the lines he prepared. After he got the tree on stage, he got out an ax and started chopping to make notches for the cross beam. Later there were rumors about damage to the stage and carpet. I remember nothing that he said. Probably something about Jesus.
2. The Sex Ed Chapel
This is the chapel that is most clearly seared in my brain. It was my freshman year and I was newly dating my now husband (Matt). I was a few minutes late, which meant instead of going to my assigned seat, I went up to general seating in the balcony. This day, I was happy that Matt had been late too and had a seat open next to him. I quickly sat down and looked up at the stage to see who was speaking and heard something like, “This is what a uterus looks like when it is infected with chlamydia.” There behind the speaker was a very graphic picture of a diseased uterus. For 20 minutes she continued to speak in gross detail about how horrific sex was and how it was almost impossible to engage in sexual activity without your genitalia falling off. She had the slides to prove it. At one point she put on a pair of gloves that had velcro on the palms. She kept clasping her hands together and pulling them apart again, the velcro ripping, saying something like, “when you have sex with someone, you are attached.” For years, the sound of velcro triggered all sorts of flashbacks.
3. The Chicken King Chapel
The last chapel that sticks in my mind was one where the speaker was a chicken tycoon from Texas. Again, I remember almost nothing that he said, but at the end of the chapel he had student workers hand out little New Testaments to everyone. Inside each New Testament was a crisp new twenty dollar bill. I remember doing the math and realizing that he had put somewhere between $25,000 and 30,000 into those Bibles. To this day, when I pass by the meat section in the grocery store and see chopped up chickens, I think of this generous man.
As I was remembering my time in chapel at OBU, I realized that if you want to get a college student’s attention, there are three good ways: threat of bodily harm, diseased sex organs, and/or money.