Spiritual Life at Howard

Spiritual Life at Howard

Individuals from all over the globe come together at Howard. We are committed to providing supportive and inclusive spaces where you can find community, search for meaning, discover a calling, and stay connected to what matters most to you. 

Faith and spiritual life at Howard come in many forms — from Sunday Chapel Service to Wellness Wednesdays, the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel serves as the center of spiritual life and wellness at Howard and offers a haven for all faith traditions and spiritual groups. Three guiding principles inform spiritual life and community at Howard: Faith: We recognize, respect, and value the religious diversity of our community; service: We provide opportunities to be of service to others and to our local and global communities, and justice: We are committed to creating a more just society through service and advocacy 

Rankin Chapel praise dancers

Rankin Memorial Chapel 

Designated as a national historic landmark, the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel serves as the center for cultural and spiritual life at Howard. The Chapel hosts events and provides safe spaces of worship and community for students of diverse faith identities.

There are countless opportunities for students to become actively engaged in the life of the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel as a Chapel Assistant, Friend of the Chapel, choir member, or volunteer in the Chapel.

The Chapel also hosts wellness programs and events including Matters of the HeART, which provides a safe space for art therapy exercises, and community. The Office of the Chapel Dean is committed to amplifying Howard’s legacy of Truth and Service.

HU Bison Catholic group picture

Bringing People Together

The Office of the Chapel Dean supports all faith-based student communities on Howard's campus. It helps to facilitate interfaith dialogue and deepen understanding and respect for diverse faiths and cultures.

Student faith groups at Howard provide a community for spiritual connection and support. Some student faith groups include the Beacon Liturgical Dance Ministry and the Muslim Students Association (MSA). These organizations offer student-led activities, including religious observances and celebrations.

The Office of the Chapel Dean is also committed to bringing together members of the University community to engage in service-learning activities, using service as a force for positive social change and transformative justice.

HU gospel choir

Feel Inspired and Uplifted 

The Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel Choir has been praised for its powerful, soulful sound. Howard students, faculty, and staff have walked through the archway of the sanctuary to hear the Chapel ChoirCommunity Choir, and Gospel Choir and the range of music reflecting African American tradition. 

The Howard Gospel Choir has pioneered a strong legacy in international gospel music ministry, performing in over twenty countries throughout Europe and the Americas and at venues like the White House, the Capitol Building, the Kennedy Center, the Washington National Cathedral, and the Smithsonian.

Sunday services at the Rankin Chapel also feature nationally and internationally renowned preachers, clergy, scholars, and civic leaders each week who provide messages designed to inspire.

Martin Luther King, Jr. at Rankin Chapel

A Deep Legacy of Justice

For decades, some of the most distinguished national and global civic leaders, poets, African American pastors, and religious scholars have presented a prophetic call from the Rankin Chapel pulpit during Sunday services.

Among those who have preached from the Rankin Chapel pulpit are Nobel Peace Prize laureates Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Desmond Tutu, abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, NAACP founding member W.E.B. DuBois, and founder of the National Council of Negro Women Mary McLeod Bethune.

Recent speakers have included Rev. Dr. Neichelle R. Guidry, Dean of the Chapel and Director of the WISDOM Center at Spelman College, Ambassador Suzan D. Johnson, Former U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom, and the Rev. Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams, Virginia Theological Seminary Professor.

Fr. Robert Boxie, Chaplain

Guidance and Support

As a Howard student, you can access chaplains and chapel staff from various denominations and ministries. These leaders serve the entire Howard community, provide confidential counsel, and facilitate interfaith dialogue.  

A diverse team of chaplains, Chapel assistants, and Chapel choir members all support the ministry of the Rankin Chapel and support individual students while also serving the wider Howard University community. 

The Office of the Chapel Dean houses the Wellness Collective which provides wellness resources to the university community and partners with the university counseling center and other student support services to conduct interventions around life issues such as bereavement, grief, and loss.

HU Day of Service

Faith on a Social Mission 

Howard students discover the power of ethical leadership and civic responsibility, domestically and globally. The Office of the Chapel Dean helps students connect to the larger community by organizing service projects.

Service projects include Howard University Day of Service, which involves community-building initiatives in collaboration with over 80 organizations across D.C., and Alternative Spring Break, where students engage in week-long service projects.

Projects have also included community rebuilding efforts in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina as well as in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and the annual Angel Tree Project which provides holiday gifts to over 300 school-age children in need.

Sun shining over a lake

Finding Your Own Balance 

Take time for yourself and do things that make you feel centered. The Office of the Chapel Dean is a resource for University-wide wellness programs and mindfulness and meditative practices.

From yoga classes to group meditation sessions and mindfulness workshops, students learn to be in tune with their bodies, manage stress, and assess their emotional well-being in an inclusive and judgment-free environment.

The Chapel also hosts wellness programs and events including Matters of the HeART, which provides a safe space for art therapy exercises, and community; the Wellness Collective: a weekly virtual interactive series featuring mindfulness, meditation, and self-care experts; Wellness Wednesday sessions which provide tips and tools for managing stress and cultivating well-being through practical mindfulness.