America’s First Online College Chapel

Campbellsville University, a private, Christian college in Campbellsville, Kentucky, has long been affiliated with the Baptist Church. But Campbellsville is making some changes.

It started back when the school created a partnership with a company called the Learning House, Inc., to offer online programs. Campbellsville expanded the variety of its online programs over time. Today someone can obtain an all-virtual associate of science in business administration or criminal justice, and even a master of arts in special education, counseling, or organizational leadership (among other things).

While these might seem rather obviously to be the sort of vocational degrees one gets purely for career advancement, Campbellsville University decided that it needs to do more to bring the online students into the school’s Christian community.

And so, according to a piece at University Business News:
ChurchZeldaII

Campbellsville University has begun an online chapel experience for
students.

Developed in partnership with Learning House, CU’s online chapel is the first of its kind in the online educational world, Dr. Shane Garrison, assistant professor of educational ministries and director of theology online at CU.

Well I guess when your job is “director of theology online” that’s exactly the sort of thing you dream up.

Garrison said Dr. DeWayne Frazier, associate vice president for academic affairs, spearheaded the idea with the objective of providing online students with access to the same spiritual growth opportunities the main campus students have.

Apparently even Liberty University, the fundamentalist college founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell to “counter the dangers of secular education and promote a biblical worldview,” has nothing as innovative as an online chapel. This is despite the fact that 84 percent of its students are enrolled in online programs exclusively.

According to the article, Garrison,

Used pictures and videos of CU’s Ransdell Chapel and submitted the images to graphic designers to employ virtual reality technology. The result is an online chapel that looks like a virtual match to the Ransdell Chapel.

And that’s just as good, right?

Note that the whole purpose of an university chapel is to allow students to worship conveniently despite being far from home and their original spiritual communities.

Online students face many barriers to success, but they already have the ability to obtain meaningful spiritual sustenance by attending real church in the places where they live.

The online fraternity is coming next. Just wait.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer