From the President

Most colleges and universities do a great job of instilling traditions and shared values in each generation of alumni. I call these shared connections ties that bind. One is quite unique among the many ties that bind the generations of Williams alumni. This shared connection has a visible, physical expression – Startup Chapel. Since relocating to our current campus, each student – every generation of alumni – has at one time or another attended an event or was involved in learning or student activity in the building now known as Startup Chapel.


For decades, this building has been a point of connection – a physical location – where life-changing experiences happened and relational connections were made. Can you remember the chapel service where God transformed your life? Did you hear Dr. Williams preach in the chapel? What about the mid-week worship service where a good friend shared a testimony, or a fellow student preached his first sermon? What favorite theater production did you attend there? Better yet, what was your favorite play in which you were involved? What life lesson was imparted to you there under the direction of Melinda Williams or Brett Cooper? How many Cast rehearsals did you attend there? Did you attend a class in the chapel? A prayer meeting? Did you attend a good friend’s wedding there? Were you married in the chapel?


Whether a Southern Baptist College alum, Williams Baptist College alum, or Williams Baptist University alum – Startup Chapel has been a physical, tangible place where generations of students have gathered. Startup Chapel is the one building on our campus – the only one –where almost each student experienced life changing moments. Startup Chapel is a tie that binds.


In those early days, students met for chapel in this building. Although our chapel services have since outgrown the building’s capacity, this structure continues to serve the university in a variety of ways.


In 2018, the board of trustees approved the renaming of this building as the Kenneth Startup Chapel in honor of the years of exemplary and faithful service rendered to the university by Dr. Kenneth Startup. Located at the front of our campus, this building continues to serve the mission of the university. Startup Chapel has been a vital part of our story. After decades of constant use, however, the building needs to be renovated. We must ensure the chapel continues to serve the many generations of students for decades to come.


We recently were awarded a Mabee Foundation challenge grant of $200,000 to help us fund much-needed repairs and updates. In addition to the challenge grant, we have also raised in gifts and commitments $540,000. Our goal is to raise $1,000,000 to fund the updates and renovations needed to preserve and improve the crucial purpose of this historic building. We must raise an additional $260,000 to receive the Mabee Foundation challenge grant funds.


We will be launching several initiatives in the coming months to help us raise the remaining funds, so watch for these opportunities. Meanwhile, God may lead you to make a gift to the Startup Chapel renovation. If so, you can make your gift online at Please designate your gift to Startup Chapel in the appropriate space.


We need to do this. This building is a strategically important part of our history and culture – a vital part of our shared, common story. Startup Chapel has been a place where relational connections have been made and life-changing experiences have occurred for many who have entered this building. We greatly desire to continue this legacy.


Please prayerfully consider a gift to help us ensure that Startup Chapel continues to be a tie that binds the previous generations of Williams Baptist University alumni with those alums still to come!