OSRL History

Oxford Campus Prayer Chapel

Emory University was founded by the Methodist Church, South in 1836, with its original campus in Oxford, Georgia. The Oxford campus prayer chapel was constructed in 1875. Religious and spiritual life on Emory's Oxford campus is overseen by the Oxford College Chaplain. There is also a separate United Methodist church on the Oxford campus, the Allen Memorial United Methodist Church.

Old and new images of Durham Chapel

When Emory's Atlanta campus was established in 1915, the Durham Chapel (now Convocation Hall) was built and served as the official university chapel until 1981, when it was replaced by Cannon Chapel.

Cannon Chapel

Cannon Chapel was intended to serve as a multifaith chapel, serving the academic needs of the Candler School of Theology and the multifaith religious life needs of the university's diverse spiritual communities. There is also a separate United Methodist church on the Atlanta campus, the Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church.

Headshot of Reverend Donald Shockley

The Rev. Donald Shockley served as Emory University Chaplain from 1979-1990. Chaplain Shockley was responsible in part for helping to establish the resources for university spiritual life and for beginning longstanding programs such as the Anatomy Lab Chaplaincy Program. He authored several books including, Campus Ministry: The Church Beyond Itself, and he edited the volume, We Ask Your Blessing: 100 Prayers for Campus Occaasions (iUniverse, 2003). He passed away in 2020.

Headshot of Reverend Susan Henry-Crowe

In 1991, Chaplain Shockley departed Emory and was succeeded by The Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe. During her tenure, in 1997, a planned same-gender commitment ceremony in Emory's Oxford campus chapel was canceled citing a Methodist policy. This cancelation led to a debate over the proper administration of the university's chapels and religious life. The resulting decision was to establish, in 1998, the university-wide Office of the Chapel and Religious Life, as a multifaith chaplaincy overseeing all chapels and religious life at the university, with Henry-Crowe serving as Dean. This office reports to the president of the university and operates within the policies of the university rather than those of any one tradition or denomination.

During Dean Henry-Crowe's tenure, the Office of Religious Life's activities developed a more robust interfaith orientation, including the establishment of the Inter-Religious Council (IRC). One of the major programs of the office has been the Journeys of Reconciliation program, in which chaplains, faculty, staff, and students travel together to learn and build relationships in regions while exploring social justice. Destinations have included Bosnia, Cuba, Ireland and Northern Ireland, Israel and Palestine, and South Africa.

Headshot of Reverend Bridgette Young Ross

In 2013, Dean Henry-Crowe left Emory to become general secretary of the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society in Washington, D.C., after being named Dean Emerita. In the first search in which the Dean of the Chapel position was open to a non-Methodist, The Rev. Bridgette Young Ross, a United Methodist minister, was selected and appointed as Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life in 2014. Dean Ross stepped down in 2018.

Headshot of Reverend Gregory McGonigle

In 2019, a national search was conducted and The Rev. Gregory McGonigle was selected and appointed as Dean of Religious Life and University Chaplain. As a Unitarian Universalist minister, he is Emory's first non-Methodist dean of religious life. He was charged with increasing support for the university's religious and philosophical diversity and helping to expand Emory's spiritual life team, spaces, and programs for Emory's multifaith community today.

(Drawn from: Emory University Archives, OSRL Records 1960-2016.)