We live in a day and age where representation and equality are some of the biggest aspects of society. Each day, we learn more about our differences, striving to embrace them, as well as share and understand different perspectives.
Since I transferred to this university, I have found our slogan “Your story matters” to affect me personally, because I connect it with diversity within our chapels.
If our story matters, we must discuss why are there only a few women speakers in chapel compared to the amount of male speakers. I cannot help but wonder how we are supposed to come together as a Christian community, sharing different experiences and perspectives, if most of the speakers come from the same demographic. How are we supposed to learn from one another if there isn’t enough diversity represented in chapel?
Campus Pastor Michael Whitford explained that there is no required number of female speakers to speak in chapel and that, to place the speakers within a box and checking off any “requirements” needed in order to speak, would take away from the authenticity of the experience and of the Word. The sermons in chapels are done in a series, and according to Whitford, Spiritual Formation looks for whoever can expand on whatever book of the Bible is being discussed that week.
While it still feels as those there are a small number of female speakers, according to Whitford, the number has increased from five to 10 since last semester.
However, we should continue to increase in this number.
Chapel is one of, if not the main place, where the entire student body comes together on a regular basis. It is one of the important steps needed to create a unified campus that ensures and promotes equality in every sense of the word. Decreasing the lack of diversity when it comes to how often gender represents the different women on this campus is important.
I cannot help but wonder what this says to the women at this school who are Religion majors, hoping to one day be a pastor themselves. How does this show that they are able to be inspired and apply their passion outside of the university if it is not regularly shown like it is with male pastors?
Despite these challenges, with the new changes Whitford has implemented in the past year, it is encouraging to see that things will not stay the same. After all, we live in an ever-evolving society, so it is important that we continue to break barriers right here on campus. Like any religion, Christians come from different walks of life, backgrounds, and cultures, so it is important that we shine a spotlight on these differences every so often.
We go to a school where there are more women compared to men. In today’s world, I think most of us know by now that women, in fact, do have a place in the church. Within the pool of women, it is important to highlight the differences between each one in terms of race and age. What one middle-aged Christian white woman experiences may be different than what a Black millennial woman may experience. What one woman experiences as a Christian will be different than what a man experiences as a Christian. However, that’s OK because this allows both genders to learn from one another.
While I may be graduating this year, I would love to continue seeing bigger and better changes in how gender is represented on campus in the near future. Knowing that this change could possibly be created brings me joy because it would add an even bigger sense of prestige and pride to the words, “I graduated from Vanguard University.”