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The Church in the Chapel

The Church in the Chapel was an interdenominational Christian community of Northwestern students, staff, faculty and local community residents who worshiped at Northwestern's Alice S. Millar Chapel. 

Northwestern University was founded by Methodists in 1851.
Since early in the university's history, no congregation1.jpgformal congregation or specific denominational affiliation was established, although regular Sunday services were held and students were encouraged to attend.

After the construction of the Alice S. Millar Chapel, a group of students, staff, faculty and community residents began attending services conducted by the University Chaplain on a continuing basis. These services were referred to as "the church in the chapel." On May 9, 1971, these regular attendees considered the idea of forming a formal congregation. After much discussion, a nondenominational group was formed.  It choose "The Church in the Chapel" as the official name of the congregation.

University Chaplain Ralph G. Dunlop served as pastor from
The Church in the Chapel's inception until 1973.threechaplains-imx.jpg James E. Avery took over as the second pastor in 1973. In 1986, University Chaplain Timothy S. Stevens became the third pastor until his retirement in 2018. 


The Church in the Chapel functions by a committee structure. The congregation, when meeting as a whole, forms the governing body. However, the Church in the Chapel Leadership Team handles the day to day business of the congregation.

Two other committees include:

Social Action Committee

  • The Social Action Committee's work has been very significant. Over the years the committee has chosen several areas of concern to address. In 1983, it recognized a need to assist citizens in war-torn El Salvador. After initially considering offering sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant, the Social Action Committee eventually established a sister church in 1987 with Coloitat 22 4e Abril, a congregation of displaced persons in El Salvador.
  • The congregation has continued its support by sponsoring trips to El Salvador during university spring breaks. The committee has also contributed to entities such as the Evanston Community Committee, the health agency MAP International, and the human rights organization Amnesty International.
  • Since the University relieved the congregation of financial responsibility for the maintenance of the chapel and the services of the University Chaplain, the congregation could concentrate on spending the donations to support social action initiatives.

Pastoral Care Committee

  • The Pastoral Care Committee coordinates the following initiatives of the Church in the Chapel:  love, care, and spiritual support; a listening ear; cards, flowers and gifts as appropriate; telephone calls; other acts of kindness towards all who attend services and their families.