Chapel of Reconciliation takes a step towards innovation

Over the last two months, the Augustana Chapel of Reconciliation has invested in new audiovisual elements to modernize the worship space, including adding screens, projectors, a camera and new computers with proclaimed software that provide live streaming capabilities during services.

The enhancements were funded through the CARES Act brought forward by the COVID-19 pandemic. Campus Ministry and staff saw a need to update the space.

Throughout the pandemic, individuals have been able to watch chapel services virtually through an online livestream — an option that wasn’t consistently available to chapel goers before. The new screens at the front of the worship space provide the ability to project upcoming chapel events, lyrics to hymns and important announcements.

“All the things that are done here have theology behind them. […] It’s not just aesthetic,” The Rev. Ann Rosendale, Augie’s campus pastor, said. “It’s theological and rooted in our values and our missions.”

Rosendale has been a huge proponent of renovations to the chapel in recent years. The last two years have brought forward other notable improvements to the space — the ceilings to the chapel have been repainted, the floors and pews were refinished and the organ has been completely refurbished.

These recent renovations, along with the audiovisual elements, have been met with praise by many. 

“[Live streaming capabilities] help alumni and people at risk with COVID still get the worship experience,” Tyson Cowger, sophomore and social media marketing advisor of chapel staff, said.

For many students and regular chapel attendees, these technological enhancements were a long time coming. 

“It makes me happy that we are investing into the chapel, especially with the 2030 plan […] this is the time,” Claire Eiswirth, senior and president of chapel staff, said.

In addition to being used for worship, the chapel space is often used for classes and on-campus events. 

“There’s a lot that can enhance the worship experience with the addition of these new technologies. […] It makes it a more multi-use space as well,” junior and chapel staff member, Sheldon Jensen, said.

Looking toward the future, there has been preliminary conversations on more improvements for future generations. Preliminary ideas have been passed around regarding how to amplify the chapel space and make it more functional, however nothing has been set in stone.

“Our goals are to preserve the space as a center of community and a center of worship and also to emphasize welcome and hospitality,” Rosendale said. Future hopes for the space include potentially expanding the front entrance gathering space, adding windows into the sanctuary, creating larger meeting and storage spaces and creating a southside entrance to create more accessibility to first-year students.

As for now, Augustana’s Chapel of Reconciliation has taken a giant step towards innovation and hopes to foster a space congruent to Augustana core values as time progresses. 

“There is a real culture of hope and possibility on campus, a culture of enthusiasm about the future,” Rosendale said.

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