Spoken Word and the Word: First "Project Chapel" a Success

Published: January 31, 2012

This past week multi-media artist and professor at Lancaster Seminary, Valerie Bridgeman, led a chapel service in the downstairs auditorium of Wake Div which had been transformed to a dimly-lit coffee house for the occasion. She performed the service in spoken word poetry and was accompanied by a couple of seasoned jazz musicians. This service was the kick-off to a grant-funded initiative that students and faculty leaders have dubbed “Project Chapel”. The purpose of the project is to engage students in creative ways to worship outside of the box.

In a workshop after the service, Dr. Bridgman and bassist extraordinaire, Matt Kendrick, fielded questions about their art. When asked about the exegetical angle she took while preaching through scripture through spoken word, Bridgeman said that she tries to “hear the counter beat in text” and that “God is beyond the text”, so she tries to bring the words alive and off of the page. Bassist Kendrick spoke about listening to the spoken word artist and responding in music to their words, tone and rhythm. They both spoke about how it is the artist’s (and pastor’s) job to pay attention—to their fellow artist, to their word or note choice, to the tone of the room, to the Spirit moving.

Molly Bolton
First Year