So I went to a chapel service at Dartmouth College today.
Originally a school to train missionaries to reach Native Americans, this Ivy League School is very secular now. But I still didn't expect to encounter what I did at the service.
I found out about the weekly service when I walked around the campus last week. A sign outside Rollins Chapel says, "Weekly chapel service, Thursdays at 12:30 PM. All are welcome." I felt like I qualified for the "all," so I returned this week. Running a few minutes late, I noticed a lone bike sitting up against the outside wall. I walked up to one of the massive gothic doors, swung it open and, to my surprise, saw that the chapel was empty.
But then I heard something - someone speaking. So I walked through the dark lobby toward the sanctuary, only to realize that the service was being held in one of the side alcoves. When I rounded the corner, I looked, and to my utter shock, there was only a handful of people sitting in the wooden chairs, listening to the chaplain give his weekly address.
Sitting down in the back row, I counted the number of individuals there. Twelve - besides myself and the chaplain.
Twelve! In a school of 6000 students and almost 700 faculty, there were only 12 people in the whole building. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I wasn't expecting thousands, but I was expecting more than a handful, too.
It's sobering. College campuses are the bastions of secularism - especially those that pride themselves on being academically elite, like the Ivy League schools in this part of the country. But some how, some way, they've got to be reached.