Seven of the 12 national and regional colleges affiliated with the Churches of Christ no longer exclude women from actively serving in chapel worship-services when the assembly includes men and women.

Four of them—Abilene Christian University, Lipscomb University, Pepperdine University, and Rochester College—do not exclude women from any role in their chapel worship-services.  Women preach, read scripture, lead prayer, and otherwise actively serve in chapel services that include men and women.

Three other schools—Lubbock Christian University, Oklahoma Christian University, and York College—no longer generally exclude women from actively serving in mixed chapels, but some exclusivity remains, at least in practice.  Women serve as the featured speaker and also actively serve in other roles in these three schools’ main chapels, and women actively serve in all roles in some mixed chapels besides the main one at OCU, but some roles in the main chapel-services for all three are generally filled by men.

These 7 colleges are joined by a growing number of Church of Christ congregations that have lifted all or most restrictions on women serving in the worship service.

Still Excluding Women

The vast majority of the Churches of Christ still wholly exclude women from actively serving in worship services in which men are present—women are not allowed to read scripture, lead singing or prayer, serve at the communion table, or preach.

The Churches of Christ denomination is nearly alone among significant U.S. Christian denominations in wholly excluding women from doing so in most of its congregations.  At least around 90% of U.S. Christianity is less restrictive.

Five of the 12 Church of Christ colleges—Faulkner University, Florida College, Freed-Hardeman University, Harding University, and Ohio Valley University—continue to wholly exclude women from actively serving in their mixed chapel worship-services.

At Harding, women occasionally give personal testimony or speak on a special topic (e.g., stress and anxiety) to the assembly as part of the main chapel program, normally after a devotional period.

These 5 colleges have an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 12,000, with half of those at Harding, while the other 7 colleges have an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 18,000.

List of Church of Christ Colleges and Their Approach to Chapel

Below is a list of the 12 national and regional Churches-of-Christ-affiliated colleges along with the status of women’s service in their chapel worship-services.

The list concludes with a few questions to consider.

1.  Abilene Christian University

Full participation.  Women preach, read scripture, etc.

“Chapel at ACU        Gathering daily for a time of fellowship and worship ….”

Videos:  Video 1  Video 2

2.  Faulkner University

Women not allowed to actively serve in chapel worship-services.

“Chapel Leadership … Males who serve in a leadership role in the Chapel worship assembly are asked …”

Audio/Video:  Video 1 (Wake Forest’s Dr. James Otteson)     Video 2

3.  Florida College

Women not allowed to actively serve in chapel worship-services.

“Daily Chapel Assembly”

Video:  Livestream of chapel services

4.  Freed-Hardeman University

Women not allowed to actively serve in chapel worship-services; sometimes make announcements after services.

“Each chapel service begins with a devotional. Following the devotional, activities may include guest speakers, entertainment, singing, ….”

Audio / Video:    Available online

5.  Harding University

Women not allowed to actively serve in chapel worship-services; sometimes make announcements after services.

Also, women occasionally speak their personal or family testimony or on a special topic, such as stress and anxiety, as part of the chapel program, normally after a devotional period.  See examples 1, 2, and 3.

Chapel for worship, “… dealing sanely with the problems of life, to develop proper ideals of true manhood and womanhood …,” and other purposes

Video:  Archives

6.  Lipscomb University (and Hazelip School of Theology)

Full participation.  Women preach, read scripture, etc.

“The Gathering is a time when our entire campus comes together for worship …”

Videos:  Video 1     Video 2

7.  Lubbock Christian University

Women preach and read scripture; do not lead prayer or singing.

LCU Chapel Schedule …

Audio/Video:  Chapel Audio and Video  (see, e.g., videos from February 19, February 23, March 2, March 5, 2018; and August 29, 2017)

8.  Ohio Valley University

Women not allowed to actively serve in chapel worship-services; sometimes make announcements after services.

“Chapel and Assembly is designed to gather the OVU community on a daily basis …”

9.  Oklahoma Christian University

Women fully participate in some mixed chapel worship-services (main speaker, lead prayer, etc.) besides the main chapel and sometimes serve as the featured speaker and read scripture in the main chapel.

See video and first article, second article, and announcement.

10.  Pepperdine University

Full participation. Women preach, read scripture, etc.

“From its beginning, Pepperdine has included regular assemblies where students gather to grow in faith, …”

11.  Rochester College

Full participation. Women preach, read scripture, etc.

“Rochester College Chapel/Convocation series (RCC) …”

12.  York College 

Women preach and make announcements; do not lead singing or prayer.

“Every weekday, York College faculty, staff and students gather for worship, scripture, a program, and announcements …”

Videos:  Video 1   Video 2   Video 3

Conclusion

Where would a young woman in high school deciding on a college rather go, a college that excludes her from actively serving in chapel or a place that gives her opportunities to do so?

Where would be best for her spiritual health?

What does a college’s exclusion or inclusion of women relative to chapel suggest about how that college might treat her in other respects?  What other opportunities available to men will or will not be made available to her by that college, directly or subtly?

What message does the college that excludes women from serving in chapel give to its male students about her?  What message does the college that fully includes her give to the male students?

Where should a high-school girl’s parents want her to go?  Where might her youth minster think is best for her?

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Part 2 of this series, “… Scriptural? and a College Visit,” explains that (a) the scripture to which people normally point to exclude women—1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy  2:12—do not mean what the plain meaning of their English translations indicate and (b) lots of scripture directs women to speak and actively serve in mixed worship assemblies.

Part 3 explains why 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 does not exclude women from preaching, reading scripture, etc., in a mixed worship assembly.

Part 4 explains why 1 Timothy 2:12 and surrounding scripture does not exclude women from preaching, reading scripture, etc., in a mixed worship assembly.

***

My prior article considered what some teen girls in the Churches of Christ are taught about women’s roles in the church and home.  It includes additional sources and notes relevant to this article, including scripture cited by those who view it as wrong to exclude women from roles in worship services.

 


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Sources & Notes