Oakwood U ‘First Chapel’ mindful of chaotic state of the nation

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)- It's the second day of the fall semester at Oakwood University. But it's also the first Thursday, bringing students and staff to the university church.

First Chapel at Oakwood is seen as a chance to pray for the success and safety of its staff and students.

"It's an opportunity to set the stage for the year, set the scene, establish positive atmosphere," said Dr. Timothy McDonald, the provost and senior vice president.

But this year, school leaders say the ceremony is particularly important.

"Having this anointing ceremony is probably more significant than any other year," said Tahjai Cronkerite, and senior and president of the United Student Movement.

"Because of the situation in Ferguson, wars in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan, we just think that it's a special time to come together and pray to God about the situation," said McDonald.

At Oakwood, they push awareness of issues both locally and abroad, and just hosted a demonstration on campus a week before.

"The situation in Ferguson with the shooting of Michael Brown," began McDonald, "we conducted demonstration in support of the family."

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," said Cronkerite, "and we want the world to know that we're watching, we're listening, and we want justice to be served."

The historically black Seventh-Day Adventist school hopes to keep the students aware. And despite the agitation felt nationwide, they want them to feel inspired.

"It's important to realize that there's life happening outside of our environment, outside of our comfort zone. There are things you can be apart of. There are things you can do to make a difference, and we're the ones that can make that difference," said Cronkerite.