A Higher Calling
Student religious groups at Texas A&M University have existed since students stepped off the train in what was then the Middle of Nowhere, Texas, in the 19th century. All alone in a new place with little to do, Aggies found comfort in worshiping together while completing their studies.
Today, Bryan-College Station is home to a bustling student population and thriving economy, complete with dozens of churches and religious meeting sites. Throughout it all, students have practiced their faiths together, and the campus community continues to support diverse spiritual beliefs.
By offering spaces for worship, prayer and fellowship at All Faiths Chapel on campus, Texas A&M has created an atmosphere where its numerous student religious organizations can flourish.
Making A Place For All Faiths
In 1950, there was a call for an interdenominational chapel where all Aggies could practice their religions on campus. The student population was booming after World War II, and the coinciding diversification in faith resulted in more student groups needing a place to worship.
After securing funding from The Association of Former Students, Ernest Langford (Class of 1913) and Richard Vrooman ’52—both figureheads in the College of Architecture—began designing the structure. Using primarily limestone, wood and glass, they intended the building to evoke a spiritual atmosphere while containing various prayer rooms and meeting spaces for the students it would serve. This dream was fulfilled on May 11, 1957, when the Interfaith Chapel opened its doors for the first time, welcoming visitors with organ music all day in celebration.
By 1961, the chapel had a new name: All Faiths Chapel, reflecting the spiritual diversity that continues to blossom at Texas A&M. Students regularly met and worshiped in the chapel, utilizing the space to the fullest; some Aggies have even chosen the chapel as the perfect place to say “I do!”
Over time, All Faiths fell into disrepair due to its constant use. The chapel lost its luster and functionality and thus could not fulfill the changing needs of student groups. The Association of Former Students funded an initial facelift, and Cynthia and Douglas Kennedy ’69 expanded on that vision with a gift through the Texas A&M Foundation that supported additional, much-needed updates. After undergoing these renovations in 2014, the chapel reopened for use, complete with new furniture, carpeting and restrooms, as well as fresh paint and refinished woodwork.
Going To The Chapel
No matter their religion, people from Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish faiths alike utilize the chapel’s prayer and meditation rooms as a peaceful sanctuary to focus on their faith. Many groups, such as the Muslim Students Association, advertise the prayer rooms at All Faiths and the fifth floor of Evans Library as safe havens for daily prayers.
For the past few years, the Christian student group Asian American InterVarsity has utilized the main chapel for its biweekly large-group services. The organization’s president, Melissa Liu ’22, said the chapel allows students to gather in a central location to worship as one.
“I’m really grateful for the chapel,” Liu explained. “Hosting meetings at All Faiths is a blessing because it is simple to utilize, has plenty of space and allows us to worship with music without disturbing others. It’s also so inviting. Even if people just walk past, they can easily see they are more than welcome to come in.”
To Each, A Home
There is a place for anyone at Texas A&M, regardless of religion, denomination, gender or ethnic identity. With more than 80 religious student organizations, Aggies can find friendship among others of the same faith with similar experiences.
“I am part of a religious minority as a Jewish student at Texas A&M, so it is comforting to share similar ideas and religious beliefs with other students, especially because I never had that kind of community before,” said Emily Chilton ’24, Texas A&M Hillel director of recruitment.
Many groups also host informational events or major holiday celebrations, inviting all Aggies to discover more about their peers’ diverse cultures.
“For many of us, religion and culture are major parts of our identity, even if we don’t realize it at home,” said Anu Khatri ’22, president of the Hindu Students Association. “Our events are always open for anyone to respectfully attend because it is easier to accurately learn about cultures and beliefs through experiences.”