A New Approach to Chapel Band at Bethel

Jesse Maurer (’14) leads worship for Chapel Band.

At Bethel College, chapel is not only a place where Spirited Connections are made. Chapel is known as the heartbeat of campus. Along with the changed focus for the college as a whole, it seems that Bethel has also had a change of heart.

For 18 years, Shawn Holtgren, Ph.D. (’95), now vice president for student development, has led worship as lead singer and director of Bethel College Chapel Band. Though Holtgren has thrived and grown in this position, after a long season of thoughtful prayer, he saw an opportunity for improvement.

Five years ago, Holtgren began to envision a heaven-inspired worship experience. “The pieces have come together to pursue this vision,” Holtgren explains. “I want our worship to reflect our community and our kingdom value.”

The hope for this new vision is to emphasize diversity of music, leadership and style. “We want every student to relate to some band in some way,” Holtgren says.

The diverse styles of both music and leadership will be a new experience for some students. However, Holtgren’s hope is that students would be inspired to lay down their partiality. “Our desire to worship God should supersede our preferences.”

Holtgren emphatically emphasizes the value of diversity, beauty and unity. “Worship is a response — I hope we benefit by learning how to respond to God and His awesomeness.”

The new band leaders that are helping to put this vision into practice are Calvin Whetstone, a junior and leader of Worship Band; Jesse Maurer, a senior and leader of Chapel Band; and Zach Gillis (’13), an alumnus, assistant resident director, campus coordinator for the center for intercultural development  and leader of Gospel Band. Each leader is passionate about this new direction of worship.

The variety of styles and genres that each band offers serves as an opportunity to create a new form of praise. The styles of each band range from contemporary Christian, to Christian rock, to contemporary gospel and classic hymns.

“I want students to realize that though this might not be what you are accustomed to, be encouraged. Be a part of it. Regardless of the style in which we worship, it is one God we serve,” says Gillis.

All four leaders are enthusiastic about the diversity and unity that will hopefully be inspired through these changes. Chapel will represent the eclectic perspectives that come together to form one campus. “It gives us a glimpse of heaven,” Gillis says.

The vision is not that the students would be distracted by the changes in Chapel Band. Rather, that each band would guide the rest of the student body into praising with authenticity. It is the authenticity of a heart that brings people to Christ.

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