This story is featured in the Fall 2018 edition of the HPU Magazine. Below, learn how HPU’s Chapel and Religious Life serve as an outlet for students to grow their faith and build interfaith relationships with diverse student groups.
For the Inchalik brothers, weekly chapel services started out as a means for reflection and stability in their lives.
Jackson and Lane came to HPU from Guilford, Connecticut, and developed an admiration for the values and support that HPU’s Chapel community provided.
With a growing list of campus involvement and ever-expanding schedules, the two realized they hadn’t been keeping up with one another. They needed something that could consistently connect them. Wednesday Chapel was their answer.
“After attending our first chapel service, we quickly fell in love with the positive environment and genuine dedication to creating a community within religious life at HPU,” says Jackson Inchalik.
Following each weekly chapel service, the brothers would take part in a fellowship meal with fellow students and Rev. Preston Davis, minister to the university.
“Rev. Davis would start a conversation with us, just asking about our lives and checking in on how we were doing,” says Inchalik.
Davis’ interest in the students and willingness to hold full conversations about their lives affirmed the Inchaliks’ desire to make weekly chapel a tradition.
“It’s amazing to see someone truly interested in getting to know everyone around him and making sure everyone feels welcome,” says Jackson Inchalik. “These weekly meet-ups started about a year ago, with very little intention of actually making them weekly. But, soon after our first appearance at chapel, we were more than happy to make this rewarding experience a routine.”
And the Inchalik brothers are just two of many who find a home in HPU’s religious life programs.
A Foundation that Fosters Diversity
While HPU is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, it’s the Christian heritage that animates hospitality and desire for multi-faith and interfaith relationships, too.
The Chapel and Religious Life Office is a place of inclusion. With students representing all 50 states, 56 countries and an array of faiths and backgrounds, HPU is dedicated to fostering the religious life of students from all backgrounds.
The Chapel and Religious Life Office provides year-round programming. Catholic students have Mass where they can worship. Jewish students have a vibrant Hillel. And each year, students of all backgrounds come together for an interfaith Iftar, a meal celebrated by Muslims during Ramadan.
And while diverse programming aids in the goal of touching as many lives as possible, a dedication to community serves as another means of fostering religious life at HPU.
Chapel Life Changes Lives
At HPU, religious life doesn’t stay quietly seated in the pews. It’s taken into the community and throughout the country.
Each semester, students take part in a pilgrimage, a seven-day journey that helps students reignite their faith and the importance of service in the community.
In the fall, students learned from and worked with many local faith communities and faith-based organizations, as well as food pantries, urban farm organizations and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.
“The pilgrimage was a way of praying with our feet as we discovered the ways God is moving the world, and the ways people are putting faith into action,” says HPU junior Jacob Lancaster. “I was excited to explore how faith is put into action in our own backyard.”
The spring pilgrimage led students to Houston, Texas, to help with hurricane relief efforts. They cleaned and repaired the home of a pastor’s widow and visited with some of the most unique ministries in the country.
And, while the pilgrimages serves as a week-long service opportunity, giving back goes beyond the semi-annual trips. It’s a year-round effort that comes in a variety of forms.
Like the reverse offering.
In the spring, HPU’s Board of Stewards, a group of student leaders responsible for preparing the HPU Chapel’s worship services, leading service projects and stewarding weekly offerings into the High Point community, decided to hold a reverse offering.
During the final week of school, students gathered at the chapel. Instead of giving an offering, they received an envelope with their name on it. Inside was a gift ranging from $5 to $100, intended to be donated by the students to any organization of their choosing.
Junior Shirley Garrett took part in the event and received the highest amount at $100.
She knew exactly what to do with the money.
“I volunteer at a local nonprofit organization that helps people with and without disabilities bridge the gap and create friendships,” she says. “I knew in my heart that’s where I wanted to donate the money.”
It’s all done in an effort to foster justice, love, mercy and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8) — the goals of HPU’s religious life.