In the Shadow of the Cross: The Purpose of Wing Chapel

Posted by Julia Adams on 8/7/23 11:00 AM

Purpose of Wing Chapel

“Our community with one another consists solely in what Christ has done to both of us. … The more genuine and the deeper our community becomes, the more will everything else between us recede, the more clearly and purely will Jesus Christ and his work become the one and only thing that is vital between us.”

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Have you ever thought about the grace of Christ as the only thing that holds a community together? I certainly did not until I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book.

In Scripture, God makes it clear that community is blessed by Him, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20, ESV) As members of the Church, Jesus commands us to bear one another’s burdens and calls us to be good listeners. But what does that look like practically? How do we follow this command in real life?

At Patrick Henry College, students learn just that. They practice living in a Christian community every day. As students go about their daily lives, they are constantly provided with opportunities to practice Jesus’ commands. That is why students are required to attend Wing Chapel every Tuesday and Thursday. During the forty minutes they are together, students focus on the ten people surrounding them in their wing and pour into each other. They spend time in the Word and grow in their relationships with the Lord.

In addition to Corporate Chapel and Sunday services at their churches, students have the opportunity through Wing Chapel to engage with Scripture and their peers on a more personal level. While Resident Assistants (RAs) may choose a devotional book instead of Scripture, their goal is to prompt healthy and purposeful discussion about God. Many students have found Wing Chapel as a safe place to grapple with what they actually believe about God, the world, and themselves.

Read Students' Experiences in Wing Chapel

Students often bond as they hear each other’s thoughts on their lives and God’s Word.  Occasionally the RA may try things that he or she thinks would also best benefit the wing. This time could be spent doing a project together or an activity with other wings. Students may do a prayer walk around the "Farris Wheel." An RA may help with the pressure of final exams by inviting students to relax while listening to worship music. RAs can get creative with ways to help students spend time together and pursue the Christian life together.


As a prospective student, I heard over and over again about how special Patrick Henry College is. I can now testify from my own experience that it is true. PHC is a place where like-minded people come together to pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful. It is a Christian community, but, as the leadership and faculty point out regularly, it will only continue when we walk in the shadow of the cross, the beacon of grace and hope for the world.

It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together


Fostering a Christian community does not end with Wing Chapel. Click below to read about Dr. Steve Hake's heart for discipleship!

Read Dr. Hake's Thoughts on Discipleship

 Patrick Henry College exists to glorify God by challenging the status quo in higher education, lifting high both faith and reason within a rigorous academic environment; thereby preserving for posterity the ideals behind the "noble experiment in ordered liberty" that is the foundation of America.


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