Religious Heritage

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Dillard University Religious Heritage

Dillard University resulted from a 1935 merger of two historically African-American and denominationally affiliated institutions. In 1866, the Methodist Episcopal Church founded the Thompson Biblical Institute for the training of African-American ministers. The Normal School for the training of teachers was added to Thompson in 1869, and the school that resulted was named New Orleans University. Also in 1869, the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Church established Straight University in New Orleans.

When the two institutions, New Orleans University and Straight University, were merged and renamed Dillard University, the denominational affiliations were maintained. Thus, Dillard University is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ.

Dillard University Lawless Chapel

The Lawless Chapel Ministry (LCM) is the on-campus ministry that serves the religious and spiritual needs of the DU community. It is based in the office of the University Chaplain in Lawless Memorial Chapel. LCM is associated with VisionQuest, a program that began in 2001 through a grant from the Lilly Endowment. VisionQuest aids students in pursuing ordained, music and lay ministry, and helps students find the work, and the life, to which God has called them.

LCM and VisionQuest accomplish their purposes by offering a lively worship service in Lawless Chapel every Sunday while the University is in session. The style of worship represents an eclectic mix of the University’s two affiliations (United Methodist and United Church of Christ) with a little bit of Baptist, and a measure of creative experimentation that reflects the cultural exuberance of the city of New Orleans. Students participate in all aspects of LCM and VisionQuest. The VisionQuest Chorale and Liturgical Dancers and Mime Ministry provide the music and dance for worship–be it on campus, throughout New Orleans, or beyond the city. VisionQuest sponsors guest preachers and guest gospel artists (Donald Lawrence, Richard Smallwood, Lecretia Campbell and others) at the University, in addition to offering occasional mid-week and evening worship services.

Lawless Memorial Chapel is available for space rental for weddings and other events. All events must be scheduled with the Office of the University Chaplain.