New sermon series "Already Not Yet" continues in the Dixon Center
22 years ago, Lee University started to offer students another chapel option—Alternative Chapel. Commonly known as Alt Chapel, it was created to engage students in diversity and encounter God in a different way.
Dr. Mike Hayes, vice president for student development, has been the director of alternative chapel since 1997.
“The University had purchased a large, old house on the south end of campus and allowed the students to renovate it,” said Hayes. “Alternative Chapel was an idea that emerged from discussions among administrations and student leaders who were instrumental in renovating ‘The House.’”
Since its inception, the leaders of Alt Chapel have striven to keep the services student-led. This decision has helped the Lee student body respond more positively to chapel and the sermons.
“The students have always engaged Alternative Chapel in enthusiastic ways regardless of where it’s been housed. One of the key aspects is the involvement of students in leading the chapel in a variety of ways,” said Hayes.
Nolan Howell, a senior pastoral ministries major, is a student leader himself. Howell played for the Alt Chapel band a few times during his junior year. Over the summer, he was asked by the leadership team to become the worship leader for the 2019-2020 school year.
“I was praying ‘God I’m about to enter my senior year and I would like to leave an impact at Lee and not just go through [Lee] without doing anything [impactful] for the Kingdom,’” Howell said. “A week later, [the former worship leader] talked to me about becoming the new worship leader.”
Howell was also tasked with the responsibility to gather this year’s worship team.
“I prayed about it first, and I knew God was wanting me to choose people not solely based on their talent but more on their heart for worship,” Howell said. “That, for me, is what matters most. My focus with the sound is not a physical sound but the spiritual sound.”
With much prayer and preparation, Howell and the Alt Chapel team gathered over the next few months to decide this school year’s theme, “Already Not Yet,” and focused on how they could bring unity at Lee.
“[With] having diversity, instead of bringing division among the [different] chapels, it should show God in a bigger way and it should show how He works,” Howell said. “Sometimes we think for things to be good or for things to be unified, they have to be the same; but in diversity, we can be unified.”
Addison Pierce, a sophomore psychology major, saw that unity and decided to join the team over the summer.
“I wanted to get involved because I really felt a connection to it for some reason. Alt Chapel speaks to real, specific things that are going on in your heart,” said Pierce. “They call out the deeper [issues] that not everybody talks about.”
Having this second chapel option serves Lee by attending to the diverse student body and offering different ways to worship and seek God. Alternative Chapel meets during chapel time every Thursday in the Dixon Center.