Column: Learning to appreciate chapel

By Nicholas Dingus, Sports Editor

The first time I walked through the doors of Raley Chapel on move-in day in August 2014, I knew that I would be spending a lot of time there over the next four years. Every Wednesday – and some Mondays and Fridays – I would walk through those doors into the cavernous expanse of Potter Auditorium.

I thought I would spend hours examining the details of the stained-glass windows that line the outer walls, taking in the story that each one tells. Spiritual Life and chapel services are two of the things that drew me to OBU initially.

97 chapels in four years didn’t seem like a daunting task. People told me all the time, “Oh yeah, if you go to every chapel, you can finish your chapel credits by Christmas sophomore year.” It all seemed so simple at the time. I was rolling along during the first semester of my freshman year; I went to every single chapel for the first two months of the semester.

Eventually, I fell into a routine and became comfortable. While I started out strong, when I got comfortable I began to slack. I would think to myself, “I’ve already been to a lot of chapels this semester. I can miss one and sleep in.”

This attitude got much, much worse during the spring of my freshman year. I had a difficult Christmas break that year, and over J-Term I had started hanging out with people who were not building me up spiritually. Other than my roommate, I had very few positive influences in my life.

In addition to that, I had begun to work as a resident facility officer at OBU, working from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the front desks in the dorms.

Working nights wrecked my sleeping schedule, and coupled with the fact that I didn’t have class on Monday, Wednesday or Friday until 11 a.m, I started sleeping through chapel on a weekly basis. I had stopped caring. I just thought that I would make it up the next year and end up finishing my chapels during my junior year.

I entered my sophomore year with a very similar attitude to the previous semester. I would go to a chapel every now and then, but largely I would elect to sleep in before my 12 p.m. class on chapel days. I never really thought about it honestly; I always had two more years to complete my chapel credits.

Junior year started, and I kicked myself into high gear. I went to nearly every single chapel during the fall semester. The chapel theme that semester was “Prayer: Beseeching the Lord through the Prayers of the New Testament.” I found myself really getting into these chapels; I remembered the appreciation that I held for chapel when I was a freshman, and I began to learn and grow spiritually. Unfortunately, this didn’t last.

Starting in the spring of 2017 I began to work at Visit Shawnee Inc. I needed this job not only for the job experience it was providing for me, but I also needed the money I was making to help pay for that semester’s tuition.

I had been working at OBU for the last two years as an RFO and as a teaching assistant in the communications department. The difference was that my jobs at OBU were scheduled around my class schedule, which allowed me to attend chapel.

VSI, however, required me to work 9-5 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I realized that this meant that I would not be able to attend nearly any chapels that semester. At that point, I had about 60 to 65 chapels left. I knew that I would be hard-pressed to complete the required credits the next year and resigned myself to the fact that I might have to write a few chapel papers.

I began this year intending on going to every chapel in order to lessen the number of papers I would have to write. I started out well for a while, until I started to get busy. I thought I had been busy the year before, but it was nothing compared to what I experienced during the fall of 2017.

I started having to miss chapels in order to have meetings before I had class and work in the afternoon.

While I went to every chapel I was able to go to, I didn’t get as many as I was hoping. The same thing happened at the start of this semester. At the beginning of March, I fully realized my situation, and haven’t missed a single chapel since then.

Despite my efforts, I was told that I would still be required to write a total of 39 chapel papers in order to graduate in May. While I know other people have had to deal with a more daunting number (I know of at least one person that will be writing over 80 to graduate), it was no small task.

I met with Dean Griffin at the beginning of April to discuss my situation. He encouraged me and told me to look at each paper as a personal devotion time. He told me to look at the papers as a way to learn something and try to get something out of each one just as if I had actually attended the chapel. I am so thankful for this advice. While writing these papers I was able to take away so many great lessons for leading a Godly life and was repeatedly encouraged to step outside of my comfort zone to allow myself to be used by Christ.

As I was writing these papers, I remembered the times I didn’t go to chapel for nearly whole semesters, and I realized the things that I had missed out on and all of the messages that could have spoken to me in times of need. I look back to the chapel series about the role and importance of the church and see my struggle to find a church home. I had no idea how large of a role the church plays in the life of a believer.

I have immensely enjoyed my time here at OBU and would do it over again in a heartbeat, but my one regret is not having made time for chapel while I still had time to go. I do not regret missing chapels because of work or meetings, but it was that those times during freshman and sophomore year when I made a conscious decision to sleep instead of going to chapel. I missed out on much of the spiritual growth aspect of OBU that I so greatly appreciated for almost two years.

If I were going to give any advice to underclassmen as I get ready to graduate, it would be this: go to chapel. When you’re tired and just want to sleep or you feel overwhelmed by classes or by life, go to chapel. Chapel is an important part of life at OBU and an institution that we are very blessed to have. Sure, it’s nice to get the credits so that you
can graduate, but nothing can replace being spiritually uplifted in the middle of the week. Don’t walk into Raley every week and treat chapel like a chore; it’s all about your attitude, and if you enter chapel each week with openness and a willingness to let
Lord speak to you, chapel will become one of the best parts of your week.

Column: Sports are more than games, they build passion and community

By Nicholas Dingus, Sports Editor

As usual, winter had come to south central Ohio in early October, and by late November, she had completely consumed corn country. As 2007 was drawing to a close, my father and I set out on a pilgrimage; every Friday night for four weeks we would bundle ourselves up in our warmest clothes and hop into his old pickup to go watch his alma mater play in the state football playoffs.

My father grew up in a small community 15 minutes east of Washington Court House, Ohio. He attended West-fall High School outside of Williams-port another 15 minutes to the north-east. While he never played football while a student at Westfall, he did play baseball with his best friend, Lonnie Puckett. After high school, my father eventually moved away to Columbus. Over the following 20 years, my father and Lonnie’s friendship continued, assuring that this relationship, fostered in their childhood, would have a lasting impact on my life.

Throughout my early childhood, I can remember every Christmas my family would spend Christmas Eve with my mother’s family in Grove City and the next morning head south to spend several hours with my father’s family. After stuffing ourselves with grandmas cooking for the second time in as many days, we would say goodbye and head to our last holiday stop in Derby to visit with Lonnie’s family, my father’s second family. These visits were never long, but they stand out in my memory. The Pucketts became my extended second family, just as they had been my father’s second family twenty-odd years before.

As happens with friends as they grow older and start families, the opportunities that my father and Lonnie had to see each other became fewer as their children got older. Lonnie had two sons and a daughter who all attended Westfall. Lonnie’s youngest son, Cameron, was a great soccer and basketball player just like his older brother, but also played kicker on the football team. 2007 was a magical season for Westfall football; the Mustangs finished the regular season with an undefeated record of 10-0 earning themselves the number two seed in the state playoffs.

When the playoffs began in early November, my father and I set out for Williamsport in the blistering cold, along with Lonnie and his father.

I had just finished my first season playing football for my middle school in South Vienna. I had grown up watching college football on TV with my family; watching the Buckeyes on Saturday afternoons was a tradition in our home. This, however, was different; this was my first taste of high school football, and, just like that, I was hooked.

As a 12-year-old, that first playoff game seemed straight out of the movies; the entire town was packed into the small stadium to support their boys. The atmosphere was electric! The sounds of air horns and cowbells still ring in my ears, and I can still smell the hotdogs and nachos being sold at the concessions stand. From the comfort of their home field, Westfall easy beat their first playoff opponents, New Lexington. The following week we traveled to Teays Valley high school in Ashville to watch Westfall play Waverly, whom they easily beat; the next week they won a close game against St. Clairsville in Gahanna.

The next week was full of anticipation and excitement as the next Friday the Mustangs would be playing in the state semi-finals against Coldwater in Clayton, near the Indiana border. My memories from that night have been etched in my mind, down to the smallest detail. That night was especially cold, even biting through the heater in my dad’s pickup. I clearly remember listening to the Ohio State basketball team play VMI on the radio. Kosta Kuffus was a freshman and scored a lot of points helping the Buckeyes to victory.

By the end of the first quarter, everyone in the stands knew that Westfall was in trouble. Their potent offense couldn’t break the Coldwater defense, and Coldwater’s running backs were unstoppable. By the end of the half, almost all hope of a comeback was gone.

Nestled deep in my giant orange and grey winter coat with a now cool hand warmer in each of my pockets, my heart sank as I watched the orange numbers tick down to zero. It was over; the perfect season had finally come to a drastic and violent end in Clayton, Ohio. Even though it was not my school, I felt a connection to this team, and this loss devastated me. For the last month I had followed them on their journey, and unbeknownst to me, became a fan.

I still have not been to a Westfall football game since that night in Clayton; over the next several years my love for football grew, and as I moved from South Vienna middle school to Northeastern High School, I dreamed of one day playing in the playoffs. I could still feel the atmosphere of that cold Ohio November.

While I never had the privilege of playing in a playoff game, I can firmly say that to this day, there is nothing that I can think of to compare with high school football in America; this is especially true in small towns.

Living in a small town, it was amazing to see the support that a small community throws behind their team; even a team as bad as ours. It has been almost six years since I played my last high school football game, and I can still remember the pride I felt running out onto that field every Friday night. Even now, high school football holds a special place in my heart.

I envy the young men that run out on to that field with their whole lives in front of them yet are only focused on the next several hours. Then I see the fans: hardworking people who once a week, take time out of their schedules to come together as a community to get away from the stresses of everyday life.

I now look back at my own life and realize that it was that November in 2007 and a school that otherwise, I have no connection to, that lit the fire of passion deep inside me—a passion for something that is much more than just a game, a passion for community.