Around half a dozen people meet in Knowles Chapel on Thursday nights to chant and worship by candlelight. Canterbury Club, a club with Episcopalian roots, holds the service, called Compline. The club was originally created at the beginning of last year, after InterVarsity lost their recognition as a student group, which left a lack of Christian clubs on campus. The club is LGBT friendly and welcomes people of all backgrounds and religions.
“While there are lots of ways of being spiritual, this seemed like a good fit for a bunch of stressed out students,” Dr. Erik Kenyon said about Compline. He is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy and is the faculty advisor for the club.
“It’s a short service, roughly 20 minutes, it’s relatively simple, and beautiful in its presentation and environment,” said Alexander Earl, ’14, who founded Canterbury Club and is currently a student at Yale Divinity School. “My hope was that it would be a way to engage students in something other than a Bible study, a place where both Christians and non-Christians could come to appreciate its beauty and the time of quiet reflection and prayer.”
Compline is done in many other colleges in the United States and Britain. Some college’s services are so popular that they have full choirs, though Rollins’ service uses just a piano and student voices. St. Benedict, who (among other things) is the patron saint of students, started compline in the sixth century. It was used as the last service of the day in monastic communities. It is a very laid back and meditative service, and it can be lead by anyone. It usually consists of chanting, speaking, and a hymn. The service at Rollins is held at 8 p.m., marking the end of the day.
After Compline, there is usually a discussion accompanied by dessert in the chapel lounge. “They tend to start from the bit of scripture we read that night or a historical figure who we remembered in the liturgical calendar, but they usually end up somewhere else entirely,” said Kenyon.
Father José Rodríguez is a Rollins’ alumnus who works with Canterbury Club. He is a priest at the Church of the Incarnation in Oviedo and is the Episcopal Chaplain at the University of Central Florida. “I serve Canterbury Club as a priest of the Church at the invitation of the student leaders of the club. My presence isn’t required, as the students are more than capable and able to lead this group. At Rollins, students can lead each other in prayers, teach each other, and be the church,” said Rodríguez.