Worship is central to community life at CTS. Through worship we encounter the divine and celebrate the many gifts we have each been given. Through prayer, song, dance, as well as the preached word, we engage in worship as a diverse community seeking to share with, learn from and support one other. The central worship event happens in the 4th floor chapel each Wednesday at noon during the fall and spring semesters.
We are intentional about making our worship experiences as diverse as our community is. Thus each worship service is different. While one service might be a formal academic convocation, another might be a traditional Protestant service, while another might be a traditional African American or Latin@ worship service led by one of our student groups, while yet another might be an interfaith worship including worship elements from Islam, Judaism and other world religions. Following the liturgical calendar may bring celebrations of Christian traditions such as Ash Wednesday or Advent while world events and our commitment to social justice might bring about a more non-traditional worship surrounding an issue or cause. All of these make for a rich and deeply impactful worship experience. Wednesday Chapel services are streamed and archived to allow our online and evening student population to share in the experience and various forms of technology are used to allow our online students to be actual participants in the services.
Aside from Wednesday worship services in the main chapel, there are other times and places where the community comes together in worship. Our smaller chapel space—the Clark Chapel on the 1st floor—is the home of our Tuesday Chapel services. Tuesday Chapels are less formal, totally student led times of worship, prayer, meditation and other forms of communing with the divine. Tuesday Chapel is designed to be a place where our students can test those worship skills they are honing, as well as experiment with more creative, non-traditional forms of faith expression including elements of global religious traditions. The second Thursday of every month during the academic year we host Online Chapel at 6:00pm. Online Chapel includes all of the elements of our other worship services, but is held in a virtual gathering space via WebEx Conferencing. This new and innovative form of worship allows our online community an opportunity for communal spiritual expression amongst the CTS Community. Students from all over the country and even the world gather in this technology-based worship space to give thanks and encounter the divine with, in and through each other in shared fellowship.
CTS is also full of wonderful spiritual spaces. Clark Chapel is an excellent space for individual or small group prayer and meditation any day of the week. The Wells Clarke Meditation Room is another wonderful, peaceful space for private times of reflection; and is available to students anytime during building hours.
Worship at CTS is a collaborative effort of students, faculty and staff. The Director of Community Life administers the various aspects of weekly worship and other aspects of spiritual life at CTS. The CTS Spiritual Life Committee (SPLC) works with the Director of Community Life to set the direction of CTS’ spiritual life activities, including, but not limited to Wednesday Chapel. The SPLC is made up of students, faculty and staff. Its mission is “to enrich the spiritual ethos at Chicago Theological Seminary for all community members by sponsoring programming, encouraging spiritual practices and nourishing self-care. All of these will honor the full diversity of global religious traditions and culture, and will integrate our greatest thinking into best practices that engage head, hands and heart.” All members of the community, particularly students, are invited to speak with the Director of Community Life about either hosting a chapel service or participating in the planning of any of the scheduled services. All face-to-face students also are highly encouraged to sign up for at least one Tuesday worship service per academic year, while all online students are encouraged to sign up for Online Chapel leadership.
At CTS we believe that spiritual formation is integral to the process of theological education. The process of meeting our divine presence in whatever way in which it is made manifest to us within the context of community serves to enrich our theological study and better inform the leader we will become. Thus we seek to make these and other opportunities for spiritual formation accessible to the entirety of the CTS community.