the end of chapel and the changing college scene
In Retrospect |
63
Wilson, and Chaplain Ed Christman, who approved the project,
took a chance on our idea.
Very few inner-city problems improved due to our presence in
downtown Winston, but inside the house of West End, hearts
changed and lives found direction. The nine students grew up to be
lawyers, government consultants, nurses, international aid work-
ers, teachers and social workers. No one knew what to expect, but
we were in a place where we could be touched by people with very
different needs, very different backgrounds from our own. I had
lived with middle class students, sat dutifully in white classrooms
for nineteen years, and I wanted to learn up close and personal
how other people lived. My wish came true. The covenant turned
out to be an agreement to learn in a new way.
This ’60’s spirit evolved into demand for college reform and re-
action to the Vietnam lottery; the desire for community action was
eclipsed by student concern for change in curriculum and campus
rules. I studied in England for a semester and returned to a cam-
pus much the same as when I left—with the exception of a final
push to end the Vietnam War. The shooting of four students at
Kent State, an incredibly tiny number of casualties by today’s stan-
dards of violence, brought us together with a candlelight vigil,
Covenant House little more than memory compared to the huge
concerns to end the draft and military involvement in a civil war
so faraway.
We are who we are, and Covenant House resides inside me for-
ever. The steep climb up cracked stairs, distant sounds of a family
argument, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club” playing over a back-
yard of broken cars and barking dogs, the pot-luck dinners, the
neighborhood kids in homemade Halloween costumes; these
memories are now a part of me, and always have been. Blended
with Shakespeare, the Bible, Darwin, Marx, and John Lennon,
Covenant House provided a unique education. Perhaps that’s what
college is for: to find out who we are against a backdrop of change
and things which never change.
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