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OCU Chapel Hosts Easter Vigil Service


Oklahoma City University will host a special Easter Vigil service starting at 7 p.m. April 7 in the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel on N.W. 23rd Street between Blackwelder and Kentucky avenues. The service is free to the public.

The Rev. Rodney Newman, campus chaplain, said the service will follow the traditional order from the earliest Christian churches — scripture readings, remembrance of baptism and Holy Communion — and will include modern interpretations from the performing arts schools at OCU.

“We have the talent and resources at OCU that isn’t available to most churches,” Newman said. “This program will play to some of our most well-known strengths, featuring gifted students from our music, dance and theater schools.

Among the more traditional aspects of the service will be the lighting and procession of the Paschal candle, which the chapel ordered specifically for the vigil service. Early Christians burned the large candles for six straight weeks during the Easter season and gathered around them to retell the story of Jesus’ baptism. The candle was lit from a fire pit, which will also take place during the service at OCU in a garden next to the chapel.

The service will then move into the sanctuary. The presentation of scripture will use music, dramatic portrayals and interpretive dance to tell its stories. The Creation story will be in a jazz reading format, which will be met with a musical response from graduate music student Drew Wutke; the Deliverance at the Red Sea story will feature the Spirit of Grace liturgical dancers, which will be met with a musical response from the Generation Blessed gospel choir; and the Valley of the Dry Bones story will feature interpretive movement, which will be met with a musical response in piano and song. There will be a variety of musical styles including Latin chant, gospel and contemporary.

Following the remembrance of baptism, the Spirit of Grace dancers will bring in the Easter lilies and white paraments as the congregation sings a hymn. The service will end with a communion and songs, and a reception will be held in the chapel lounge.

Although the service is appropriate for people of all ages, Newman noted that young adults and youth will likely be the most interested.

“There is a renewed interest in younger Christians to revive the traditional worship practices,” he said. “We have found a creative way to adapt these practices into a very compelling program.”

It is OCU’s second year in a row to host an Easter Vigil service. Newman said the experience last year provided some ideas on how to make it even better this year, while still holding it to approximately an hour and a half. 

For more information about the Easter Vigil service at OCU, contact Newman at (405) 208-5484 or