Hendricks Chapel Dean’s Convocation Brings Campus Together in Spirit and Song on Sunday Evenings
Every Sunday evening at 7 p.m., Hendricks Chapel comes alive. Members of the Syracuse University community come together for the Dean’s Convocation, a spirited gathering featuring music and reflection.
The idea of a weekly convocation emerged from the Syracuse campus community and was instituted by the Rev. Brian Konkol, the new dean of Hendricks Chapel, at the beginning of the fall semester. The convocation is intended to be a weekly gathering place for all people that features a diversity of religious, spiritual and philosophical perspectives.
Each convocation features congregational singing, led by University Organist Anne Laver; at least one choral anthem featuring the Hendricks Chapel Choir, led by Director Peppie Calvar; and a guest artist. The convocation’s artistic elements combine with a reading and message based on the week’s theme, delivered by Konkol or an invited guest.
This semester, Konkol has spoken on the themes of beginnings, belonging, purpose and finding joy in the midst of struggle. Hendricks chaplains and staff—who represent a diversity of traditions—have reflected on the themes of inclusion, strength, unity and service.
This Sunday’s convocation will focus on the theme of memories, and will lead into a candlelight vigil hosted by the Syracuse University Remembrance Scholars to begin the University’s annual Remembrance Week.
The Dean’s Convocation has quickly taken root in the University community. The first gathering took place on the last Sunday of August and was attended by 40 people. A recent gathering was attended by nearly 300. Those gathered include students, staff, faculty and community members from across the religious, spiritual and philosophical continuum. “The convocation celebrates our commonalities and also acknowledges our differences. As a Christian, I believe it all shows that people can both develop strong personal beliefs and also grow in a deep commitment to grace and hospitality,” Konkol says.
The convocation is a modern-day expression of the chapel’s longstanding mission,” Konkol says. “Since its dedication in 1930, Hendricks Chapel has defined and embraced its role as the physical and metaphorical heart of Syracuse University,” he says. “From its central presence on the Quad, the chapel speaks to our core yearnings of meaning, purpose, dignity and hope.”
“Also, as ‘a home for all faiths and a place for all people,’” the chapel—and the purpose which guides it—serves as a distinctive and significant reminder that our collective future depends upon whether or not people that navigate life differently can strive for a common good,” Konkol says.
“I think the Dean’s Convocation provides our students, our campus family and our community an opportunity to unite in a world that constantly seeks to divide us, despite our various religious and spiritual beliefs and the various degrees to which we each choose to devote ourselves to those beliefs,” Calvar says. “Dean’s Convocation reminds us of our shared values, of things each of us can agree upon and rally around.”
As an ongoing collaboration between Hendricks Chapel and the College of Visual and Performing Arts (Calvar and Laver are both VPA faculty members), the Dean’s Convocation also gives audiences opportunities to hear student and faculty performers and ensembles from the Setnor School of Music on a weekly basis.
“Dean’s Convocation is a wonderful way for our students to share their music with the wider campus community,” Laver says. “Musicians are always looking for ways to be relevant, and this gathering has provided the perfect opportunity for our student musicians to experience how meaningful their contributions can be.”
Sasha Turner, a first-year graduate student in voice pedagogy in the Setnor School of Music, has been a member of the Hendricks Chapel Choir for five years. “The Sunday evening Dean’s Convocation is a really exciting event to be a part of, because it is dedicated to creating a space for any individual to be a part of,” she says. “I think especially now, in 2017, with everything going on, it is important to build community in whatever way we can. For me, Dean’s Convocation is a dedicated time in my week to set aside all of the complications of life solely for the purpose of coming together with friends and colleagues, to be present together in thought and to make beautiful music.”
Konkol’s hope is that each week, those who attend Dean’s Convocation carry its impact with them as they depart through the chapel doors and head into a new week. “My hope is that every person who attends experiences something beautiful and leaves with the understanding that we need each other to become ourselves,” he says.
For details about the weekly Hendricks Chapel Dean’s Convocation, call 315.443.2901 or visit hendricks.syr.edu.