Guide to the Records of the Church in The Chapel (Alice Millar Chapel)

Collection Title: Records of the Church in The Chapel (Alice Millar Chapel)
Dates: 1971-2001
Identification: 0/23/1
Creator: Church in the Chapel (Evanston, Ill.)
Extent: 4 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The Church in the Chapel is an interdenominational Christian community of Northwestern students, staff, faculty and local community residents who worship at Northwestern's Alice S. Millar Chapel. The Records of the Church in the Chapel consist of organizational and membership materials and the records of five committees: Steering, Liturgical, Education, Social, and Social Action .
Acquisition Information: The Church in the Chapel Records were donated to the University Archives by Marge Bradford, Secretary in the University Chaplain's office on December 3, 2001, as Accession Number 01-205.
Processing Information: Lucy Smith; April 2003.
Separated Materials: One-half box of duplicate and extraneous materials was discarded. Newsletters were separated to the Archives periodical collection.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

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

Northwestern University was founded with a Methodist heritage in 1851. Since early in the University’s history, no formal congregation or specific denominational affiliation were 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’. In 1971, these regular attendees considered the idea of forming a formal congregation. After much discussion, a nondenominational group was formed.

The congregation held its first official business meeting on May 9, 1971. It chose to retain “The Church in the Chapel” as the official name of the congregation. Membership is by affirmation of the covenant statement and presupposes Christian baptism and a profession of Christian faith. Individuals may also be members of another church. On February 20, 1972, sixty-one people affirmed the covenant statement for the first time in the Alice S. Millar Chapel.

University Chaplain Ralph G. Dunlop served as pastor from the Church in the Chapel’s beginning until 1973. James E. Avery took over as the second pastor in 1973 and served until 1986. In September of 1979, over 200 members reaffirmed the covenant statement. In 1986, University Chaplain Timothy S. Stevens became the third pastor of the Church in the Chapel.

The University Chaplain conducts Sunday services in the Millar Chapel only during the academic year. In order to have year round services, members of the congregation took on the responsibility for conducting services during recesses and summers. At first these services were held in members’ homes, but they moved later to the Vail Chapel.

The Church in the Chapel has a well defined committee structure. The congregation of the affirmed when meeting as a whole forms the governing body. However, an elected Steering Committee handles the actual business of the congregation. Four other committees were originally created: Liturgy, Education, Social Life, and Social Action. The Liturgy Committee planned the liturgy services during academic breaks and provided lectors and ushers during the regular year. The Education Committee set up a Sunday school for children and later became known as the Pastoral Committee when its role expanded to include adult study groups. The Social Life Committee organized social activities such as dinners and retreats. The Social Action Committee collected the Sunday offerings and determined how to distribute the funds to appropriate charities. 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.

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 Colonial 22 de 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.

Scope and Content

The Records of the Church in the Chapel fill four boxes, spanning the years 1971 to 2001, with the bulk of the records dating from 1971 to 1992. The records consist of organizational and membership materials and the records of five committees: Steering Committee, Liturgical Committee, Education Committee, Social Committee, and Social Action Committee.

General organizational records span the years 1971 to 2001. The records pertain to the formation, administration and financial policies of the Church in the Chapel. Membership materials include the original covenant cards, transcriptions, rosters, mailing lists, and letters of transfer for members joining or leaving the congregation. Other general materials include correspondence, a student survey, and files on special events such as a chapel play, retreats, and a 1979 task force on sexuality and spirituality.

Steering Committee records span the years 1972 to 1984 and include agendas and minutes from the Committee and accompanying materials.

Education Committee records cover the period 1974-1977 including annual plans. The Pastoral Care Committee records cover the period 1980-82.

Social Action Committee records, spanning the years  1971 to 1990, document the Committee’s work on an annual basis. A separate folder on El Salvador covers the period 1983-90. The files also include a brief sketch of the growing involvement in social action dated September 11, 1977.  This was apparently written by then chairperson Stephen Perry when the Committee was searching for a new chairperson. This history gives a good summary of how the Committee arrived at its decisions and developed its strategies over time.

Records of the Social Committee cover the period 1974-1983 and include agendas and minutes, as well as the chairperson’s folder and detailed directions for the 1983 Easter Service.

Liturgical Committee files include agendas and minutes from 1972-1983. The Order of Worship files contain programs for services, conducted primarily in Vail Chapel, during recesses and summers from 1971-1992.

Arrangement of Materials

Records are organized by committee and arranged chronologically within folders.


Corporate Name

Alice Millar Chapel (Evanston, Ill.)

Church in the Chapel (Evanston, Ill.)


Church polity

Container List / Contents

  • General Organizational Records
    • Founding Materials, 1971Box 1, Folder 1
    • Structure and Procedures of the Congregational Meetings, 1972-1982Box 1, Folder 2
    • Guidelines for Committees and Officers, 1980Box 1, Folder 3
    • Financial Policy, 1978-1982Box 1, Folder 4
    • Annual Plans, 1972-1979Box 1, Folder 5
    • Membership
      • Covenant Cards, 02-20-72Box 1, Folder 6
      • Covenant Book Transcriptions, 1972-1980Box 1, Folder 7
      • Covenant Affirmation Services, 1976-1980Box 1, Folder 8
      • Covenant Re-affirmation, 09/09/79Box 1, Folder 9
      • Orientation Meetings for Prospective Members, 1979-1980Box 1, Folder 10
      • Rosters and Mailing Lists, 1972-1983Box 1, Folder 11
      • Church Letters of Transfer to Church in the Chapel, 1973-1986Box 1, Folder 12
      • Church Letters of Transfer from Church in the Chapel, 1974-2001Box 1, Folder 13
      • Chapel Play, 1977Box 1, Folder 14
      • Correspondence, 1973-1975Box 1, Folder 15
      • Ecumenical Peace Pledge and service, 1984Box 1, Folder 16
      • Retreats, 1971-1984Box 1, Folder 17
      • Student Survey, 1985Box 1, Folder 18
      • Task Force on Sexuality and Spirituality, 1979Box 1, Folder 19
    • Congregational Meetings
      • Congregational Meetings, 1971-1979Box 1, Folder 20
      • Congregational Meetings, 1980-1983Box 1, Folder 21
  • Committees
    • Steering Committee
      • Steering Committee, 1972-1979Box 2, Folder 1
      • Steering Committee, 1980-1984Box 2, Folder 2
    • Education Committee
      • Education Committee Annual Plans, 1974-1977Box 2, Folder 3
    • Pastoral Care Committee
      • Pastoral Care Committee, 1980-1982Box 2, Folder 4
    • Social Action Committee
      • Social Action Committee, 1971-1973Box 2, Folder 5
      • Social Action Committee, 1973-1975Box 2, Folder 6
      • Social Action Committee, 1975-1976Box 2, Folder 7
      • Social Action Committee, 1976-1977Box 2, Folder 8
      • Social Action Committee, 1977-1978Box 2, Folder 9
      • Social Action Committee, 1978-1979Box 2, Folder 10
      • Social Action Committee, 1979-1981Box 2, Folder 11
      • Social Action Committee, 1981-1983Box 2, Folder 12
      • Social Action Committee: El Salvador Project, 1983-1990Box 2, Folder 13
      • Social Committee, 1974-1981Box 2, Folder 14
    • Liturgy Committee
      • Liturgy Committee, 1972-1983Box 3, Folder 1
      • Liturgy Committee: Chairperson's Folder, 1973-1974Box 3, Folder 2
      • Liturgy Committee: Easter Service Plan, 1983Box 3, Folder 3
      • Order of Worship
        • Order of Worship, 1971-1976Box 3, Folder 4
        • Order of Worship, 1976-1978Box 3, Folder 5
        • Order of Worship, 1978-1980Box 3, Folder 6
        • Order of Worship, 1980-1982Box 3, Folder 7
        • Order of Worship, 1983-1984Box 3, Folder 8
        • Order of Worship, 1985-1986Box 4, Folder 1
        • Order of Worship, 1986-1988Box 4, Folder 2
        • Order of Worship, 1988-1990Box 4, Folder 3
        • Order of Worship, 1990-1992Box 4, Folder 4