A new legacy for a new Evangel: Former CBC student Anna Schimenti preaches first STCM chapel
September 13, 2013 | Ashli O'Connell
As the worship music came to a close and Anna Schimenti prepared to take her place at the podium before the standing-room only crowd of students, staff and faculty in the William J. Seymour Chapel at AGTS, she took a moment to reflect on what this opportunity meant.
Not only was it the first time for the junior Church Leadership major from Central Bible College (CBC) to preach in a chapel service, but it was also the beginning of a legacy for the newly consolidated university she now attends.
Schimenti wasn’t sure she felt qualified to represent her fellow students in a moment like this. And she wasn’t sure if they would respond to the message that she believed God had laid on her heart. She approached the mic with excitement and trepidation, whispered one last prayer, and took a deep breath.
A Central Bible College tradition
Schimenti, who spent the first two years of her college career at CBC, has transitioned to the Evangel campus as part of the consolidation that brought three formerly separate institutions, CBC, EU and Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, together as one this fall. As a sophomore last spring, she was elected student body president at CBC for the following school year. However, since CBC would no longer exist as an individual institution in the fall and her campus would be closing, she did not anticipate that the election would end up meaning anything.
But the administration of the consolidated university honored Schimenti’s election and asked her to serve as student body vice president this year at Evangel, a position that would give her a key role in leading students through the transitional first year of the consolidation.
This position, along with the recommendation of her professors, was a determining factor in her selection as the first speaker for Evangel’s School of Theology and Church Ministries (STCM) Chapel service, which will be held every Monday this year. The chapel services are an outgrowth of a long-standing CBC tradition – the weekly senior chapel, which has always been completely planned and led by CBC students.
With the changes of the consolidation, she did not expect the tradition to continue. However the administration and faculty felt that preserving this special tradition at CBC would be an important element of spiritual life and academic programing at the consolidated university.
“The main purposes of the STCM chapels are two-fold,” says Dr. Michael Jaffe, professor of preaching and church leadership. “The first is to create a laboratory for students in the STCM to learn ministry first hand. Students do everything. They learn to preach by doing. They learn to lead in worship by doing as well. Students also learn to help plan the services, minister to other students (by praying for them) and take care of the logistics (making sure the little things are taken care of.) The second purpose is to provide a setting for worship and ministry that is entirely student owned. Faculty stay in the background. The only things faculty do are coach the student leaders (there are four student teams each with a faculty coach), and choose the student speakers.”
Schimenti says opportunities like this are a priceless part of her education as a Church Ministries major. “I love that our faculty are not just saying ‘We believe in you’ and ‘We believe in the call of God on your life,’ but they let us put that into action,” she says.
“Sometimes for Bible college students, Christianity can become a bit professionalized. It’s just your duty to go to Chapel, to worship, to pray. But when you have to preach and lead others in worship, you have to be authentic or it’s going to fail. You really learn to rely on your relationship with God in order to provide effective ministry.”
During the service, Schimenti shared a message that God had placed on her heart about three weeks before classes started. She opened with a few homeschool jokes, poking fun at herself and garnering laughs, but quickly got to the heart of her message: “Refusing the common,” an encouragement to reject compromise in even the little choices of life.
It was a message that resonated with students and staff alike.
Did you miss the first STCM chapel? Watch the full service here in our UStream archive.
The ‘embodiment of consolidation’
“The experience was surreal, and I’m still processing it,” she says. “But one thing I know is that something very special happened in that chapel service, and I really began to see the embodiment of what the Assemblies of God has dreamed of with this consolidation. I could see how CBC students brought something special to the table, and Evangel students brought something special to the table. And we all, as students, responded in such an organic, beautiful way. It was natural, not forced. We are in the will of God as a consolidated university.”
As a former CBC student, Schementi says her expectations for the new Evangel have been far surpassed in just the first month.
“I’m really glad that I made the transition with the consolidation,” she says. “There were days that it was hard to imagine the schools coming together, but now it’s crazy that we’re here living it out. It’s really cool to see the unity between everyone. It almost seems like this is what we’ve been doing forever; it doesn’t seem like we’ve skipped a beat.”