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Morning Prayer comes to ACU

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

by Jon Camp

Several months ago, when Heavenly Rest started having Morning Prayer on weekdays, I tried to arrange my schedule to come, but it wasn’t possible. Then it dawned on me, why not bring Morning Prayer to ACU?

ACU undergraduate students must attend chapel, which occurs daily at 11 am. Wednesdays and Thursdays are designated as “small group” or “specialty” chapels, and they range from student-interest groups, to sports teams, to religious traditions. There is already an Orthodox chapel, a Catholic chapel, and your garden variety of evangelical chapels. I floated the idea of a Morning Prayer chapel to some of my fellow Heavenly Rest parishioners at ACU, who greeted the idea with enthusiasm.

The Chapel Office approved our weekly Morning Prayer Chapel application, so that students can attend and receive chapel credit. Our first assembly was Thursday, February 13 in the beautiful “Chapel on the Hill,” with Lori Houghtalen officiating, and Caddie Coupe and myself assisting with the readings. We moved the podium to the side (where it belongs!), and placed a linen-draped table, topped with a cross and candles, front and center. A handful of faculty and students came, along with some Heavenly Rest parishioners, including Bishop Payne and Barbara, Judy Godfrey, Lisa Goolsby, Judy Daniels, and Kathy Balch. Bishop Payne has been thoroughly supportive from the beginning. Barbara insisted on attending our first gathering; being an alum of ACC from the 1950s, she just had to see a Morning Prayer Chapel at ACU with her own eyes!

But this wasn’t the first time Heavenly Rest has been a presence in ACU’s chapel. Darryl Tippens tipped me off to a fun historical fact regarding ACU’s history with Heavenly Rest, which I verified in archives of The Optimist student newspaper: It turns out that on February 6, 1930, Parson Gerhart was the guest preacher in chapel at ACC, almost 90 years to the day before our first Morning Prayer!

We only got to meet four times before the Coronavirus crisis required that we shut down the residential campus. At the last meeting in February we had 16 students in attendance, thanks to Bailey, Cecily, Henry, and Kaylee, a core group of students from HR who have been inviting their friends. Students are always involved in leading the service in some way. We look forward to resuming weekly Morning Prayer chapel when the residential campus resumes activities in the Fall, and we will welcome Heavenly Rest parishioners to attend.

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