New Chapel Series: “Explorations in Truth”


Scarlett Chu, Editor

Kent, as an Episcopal school, has been following the religion’s practices and traditions during our school chapel sessions for decades. However, to honor other methods of worship and to encourage spiritual openness, the school’s chapel sessions now include a day of exploration and education outside of Christianity, where speakers of other religions talk about their faith traditions and shed light on these different pursuits of spirituality to the school community.  

This project, dubbed “Explorations in Truth,” began this school year, and aims to embrace religions other than Christianity. The idea came to Dean Kelderman around 5 years ago “less as an idea but more as tension.” She discussed how Episcopal churches are intentionally pluralists and welcoming to other faiths and how that sentiment starkly contrasts our chapel services, where the Kent community only celebrates one faith. “Even though we say we want students of many faith traditions, the chapel program wasn’t doing a good job of welcoming these students; we were implying that it’s either Christianity or nothing,” she explains. She wanted to bring more teachings and experiential education into Kent chapel program to embrace all the faiths that make up Kent’s student body and to nurture a sense of belonging for everyone. “We live in a multi-faith world, and to learn about other religions together prepares us for the world beyond that is rich in various faith traditions.”  

Two years ago, Dean Kelderman invited several speakers of different faiths—Islam, Buddhism, Judaism—to host an educational lesson in St. Joseph’s Chapel in place of regular chapel session, teaching the Kent community about their different worships of the divine. She consulted a student group that consists of students following faiths other than Christianity for their feedback, and she was delighted to hear that they loved the sessions and felt empowered to see their religions front and center. “One of the things they said that struck me was that students thought chapel was where we learned to be Christian,” she says, “Choosing a faith shouldn’t be binary, so I think it’s important to teach about other faith traditions and invite students to encounter the divine in ways they might not have imagined.” 

So far this year, St. Joseph’s Chapel has welcomed Rabbi Ari Rosenberg, to demonstrate traditional Jewish practices and songs, and Ms. Lynch from the Art Department, modelling how to feel the divine in pop music. Upcoming speakers include Drew Shuptar-Rayvis, who will speak on Native American spirituality, Dr. Kathleen Rudolf, a Unitarian Universalist, and Brother Luc and Brother Aidan from the order of the Holy Cross. 

Dean Kelderman also hopes to have students and on-campus student groups to lead chapel sessions in the future and has plans to do so starting from the Winter term. She also mentions the creation of a student vestry who will help her with the chapel program and asks any students with ideas to reach out to her. This is a very new undertaking, and despite some current struggles finding potential speakers, Dean Kelderman foresees the program being a fun and multidimensional pursuit for the school.