Annual Events

Each year, the Chaplains' Office sponsors or co-sponsors several large services and celebrations that are rooted in the tradition and values of Lutheran higher education. 

New Student Convocation

Opening Convocation

Alumni and Homecoming Service

Family Weekend

Founder's Day

Day of the Dead

International Day

Christmas in Christ Chapel


At the beginning of December, in the season of Advent, the Gustavus community prepares for Christmas by worshipping together in the annual Christmas in Christ Chapel program. Students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends of the college gather at one of five performances held during one weekend. About 1200 people attend each service.

Christmas in Christ Chapel is the joint effort of the Chaplains' Office, the Music Department, and the Office of College Relations. Every year, a theme is chosen to both facilitate worship and teach participants something new about faith, culture, and the world. About 350 students, faculty, and staff bring the programs to life through choral, orchestral, brass, handbell, and organ music, dance, spoken word, and prayer.

The most recent themes explored throughout the Christmas in Christ Chapel services have been Ubuntu, Jesu: From the Cradle of Humankind to the Ends of the Earth (2016), Shalom, Salaam Bethlehem (2015), Tender Rose, Starry Night (2014), Holy Wisdom, Holy Word: The Gates of Eden are Open (2013), Jubilee: Proclaiming the Year of the Lord's Favor (2012), Julljus - Light from the Old World, Light to the New (2011), A Renaissance Nativity (2010), A Liturgy of Letters and Carols (2009), Joyeux Noël (2008), and The Word Becomes Flesh (2007).

Information about Christmas in Christ Chapel this year can be found on Tickets for Christmas in Christ Chapel may be reserved at

Festival of Saint Lucia


Since 1941, the Gustavus community has celebrated the Swedish festival of St. Lucia, which honors a martyred saint, by choosing five sophomore women to be part of the Lucia Court. These women are selected by their peers based on the qualities represented in Lucia herself - leadership, service to others, charity, kindness, and thoughtfulness. Sophomores are chosen because they are the age Lucia was when she died for her faith - 20 years.

The festival, customarily celebrated in Sweden on Dec. 13, originated as a family celebration. The oldest daughter in each household takes on the role of St. Lucia, waking early and preparing breakfast for her family, then singing them awake with carols. Wearing a crown of lighted candles, Lucia represents the return of light that ends the long winter nights and serves as a symbol of hope and peace for the Christmas season.

The annual celebration at Gustavus is sponsored by the Gustavus Library Associates with support from the Office of College Relations, the Chaplains' Office, and the Guild of St. Lucia. The Guild was created at a time in history when women were not allowed into other honor societies. It is a prestigious group of women leaders at Gustavus, recognized for their academic and community leadership.

The festival begins at about 5 a.m. when St. Lucia and her court go caroling through the campus residence halls. There is a special worship service at 10 a.m. in Christ Chapel to crown Lucia for the new year, and to hear a homily by the reigning Lucia from the outgoing year.

Gustavus' Festival of St. Lucia is open and free to the public. Tickets are, however, required for the traditional Swedish smorgasbord that follows the festival; seating is limited. Reservations for the luncheon can be made at

Martin Luther King Day

mlk day

The annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Lecture emphasizes the continuing struggle for civil rights. This event is sponsored by the Office of the Chaplains, Diversity Center, Peace Studies Program, President's Office, and Target. For more information, visit the lecture webpage.

Building Bridges


Information about Building Bridges can be found at

Faculty Tenure Service 

MAYDAY! Peace Conference


The annual MAYDAY! Peace Conference was established at Gustavus in 1981. It was founded and is sustained by the generosity of Florence and the late Raymond Sponberg of North Mankato, MN.

The Conference occurs on the last Wednesday in April or the first Wednesday in May each year. Classes are suspended or shortened so that students and faculty may attend the 10 a.m. opening convocation and keynote in the Chapel, the afternoon keynote and workshops, and the closing reception. The MAYDAY! Peace Conference is open to the public, and no fees or reservations are required to attend.

Past conference themes include:

Honor's Day

Baccalaureate Services