A Higher Calling – Texas A&M Today

a photo of a woman leaning against a group of seats inside a chapel

Melissa Liu ’22, former president of the Asian American InterVarsity, in the main worship area of ​​Texas A&M University’s All Faiths Chapel.

Marshall Tidrick/Texas A&M Foundation

Religious student groups at Texas A&M University have been around since students stepped off the train in what was then the Middle of Nowhere, Texas, in the 19th century. All alone in a new place with little to do, Aggies found comfort in worshiping together as they completed their studies.

Today, Bryan-College Station is home to an active student population and a thriving economy, with dozens of churches and religious gathering places. Throughout it all, students have practiced their religions together and the campus community continues to support diverse spiritual beliefs.

By offering spaces for worship, prayer and fellowship at All Faiths Chapel on campus, Texas A&M has created an atmosphere in which its many student religious organizations can flourish.

Make a place for all religions

In 1950, there was a call for an interdenominational chapel where all Aggies could practice their religions on campus. The student population was booming after World War II, and the coincidental diversification in faith resulted in more student groups needing a place to worship.

After securing funding from the Alumni Association, Ernest Langford (Class of 1913) and Richard Vrooman ’52, both figureheads for the College of Architecture, began designing the structure. Using primarily limestone, wood, and glass, they intended the building to evoke a spiritual atmosphere while also containing several prayer rooms and gathering spaces for the students it would serve. This dream was fulfilled on May 11, 1957, when the Interfaith Chapel opened its doors for the first time, welcoming visitors with organ music throughout the day in celebration.

By 1961, the chapel had a new name: All Faiths Chapel, reflecting the spiritual diversity that continues to flourish at Texas A&M. Students met and worshiped regularly in the chapel, using the space to the fullest; some Aggies have even chosen the chapel as the perfect place to say “I do!”
Over time, All Faiths deteriorated due to constant use. The chapel lost its shine and functionality and was therefore unable to meet the changing needs of student groups. The Alumni Association funded an initial facelift, and Cynthia and Douglas Kennedy ’69 expanded on that vision with a donation through the Texas A&M Foundation that supported additional much-needed updates. After undergoing these renovations in 2014, the chapel reopened for use, complete with new furnishings, carpeting, and bathrooms, as well as fresh paint and restored woodwork.

go to the chapel

Regardless of their religion, people of the Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish faiths use the chapel’s prayer and meditation rooms as a peaceful sanctuary to focus on their faith. Many groups, such as the Muslim Student Association, advertise the prayer rooms at All Faiths and the fifth floor of the Evans Library as safe havens for daily prayers.

For the past several years, the Asian American InterVarsity Christian student group has used the main chapel for its biweekly large group services. The organization’s president, Melissa Liu ’22, said the chapel allows students to gather in a central location to worship as one.

“I am very grateful for the chapel,” Liu explained. “Hosting meetings at All Faiths is a blessing because it’s easy to use, has plenty of space, and allows us to worship with music without disturbing others. It is also very attractive. Even if people just walk by, they can easily see that they are more than welcome to come in.”

To each one, a home

There is a place for anyone at Texas A&M, regardless of religion, denomination, gender, or ethnic identity. With more than 80 religious student organizations, Aggies can find friendship with others of the same faith with similar experiences.

“I’m part of a religious minority as a Jewish student at Texas A&M, so it’s comforting to share similar religious ideas and beliefs with other students, especially since I’ve never had that kind of community before,” said Emily Chilton, 24, Texas . A&M Hillel director of recruiting.

Many groups also host informational events or major holiday celebrations, inviting all Aggies to discover more about their peers’ diverse cultures.

“For many of us, religion and culture are important parts of our identity, even if we don’t realize it at home,” said Anu Khatri ’22, president of the Hindu Students’ Association. “Our events are always open for anyone to respectfully attend because it is easier to accurately learn about cultures and beliefs through experience.”

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