Student-led worship on campus provides reflection, rest

Kathryn Flippin
Staff Writer

Photo by Zac Calvert
Sierra Owens-Hughes, sophomore intercultural studies major, worships in the George M. Savage Memorial Chapel during Awakening.
The room is dim. The area is cluttered. Attendees along with worship leaders are scattered on the stage. The mood is peaceful.

This is a place where people can go each week and get away from the classes and meetings that clog college students’ schedules, and instead worship in song and prayer.

Awakening, a corporate worship time led by a group of Union students on Tuesday nights, was started last February. It is meant to be a time of reflection and rest for students.

All types of music are played — whether it be a traditional hymn or a contemporary piece. In between songs or sometimes randomly, attendees lift up prayer requests or share stories about the week.
Passages of Scripture are also shared throughout the night either by leaders or attendees — the stage is always open, said Leah Claire Hall, junior elementary education major and initial leader of Awakening.

Hall said the idea for Awakening began when she and a friend were talking about the lack of student-led worship time on campus and no other time for students to come together to worship besides at chapel on Wednesdays and Fridays.

“I am a big supporter of chapel, but I know for some like me, I have wanted another time that is not as structured to just be able to share what is on my heart,” Hall said.

Hall also emphasized that Awakening is not meant to take people away from their church but to be something students could connect with on campus, almost like a community of worshipers.

“As a Life Group leader, I know there are places for people to get plugged into, but honestly there is nothing like what we do at Awakening,” Hall said. “We know it is easy for
students to just go through the motions, and we wanted a type of ‘awakening’ so that people could be refreshed in the Lord and encouraged by what other people are going through.”

Abbey Johnson, sophomore elementary education major, and Evan Kunz, sophomore biblical studies major, both began attending Awakening last spring after Hall asked them to lead worship one week.
This year, the two are back leading worship but are also part of Awakening’s leadership team. The presence of this solid team — which includes Johnson, Kunz, Hall and Joshua Jenkins, sophomore Christian studies major — has created a more consistent focus in the Awakening community, Hall said.

“We are happy to be a part of the leadership team,” Johnson said. “But we also do not want anyone to think we are special because we are leaders — we are there to participate and share as well.”

Johnson also said she has a passion for small group Bible studies because she said it is a way for each member of the community to be intentional with each other. This semester, members of Awakening have started meeting to do that.

It is not a requirement when attending Awakening but is an additional time for members to meet if they want more depth.

Kunz said he looks at the Bible studies as a way for a smaller group to share and get to know one another. With girls and guys separating, he said it is easier for people to be more specific about what they need encouragement in.

Looking to the future, Kunz said they hope to start planting roots in other Union students so that when the leadership team graduates, they leave the community in solid hands. He said that over time he knows the community will expand.

“We just have to get the word out,” Kunz said. “We really just want people to know about it — to know there is a place they can come to rejuvenate and truly worship together.”

Hall said she is excited to see what the Lord is doing in those who are attending.

“My favorite kind of Awakening meeting is when we come in and literally look at each other and say we have no idea what we are going to do tonight, because we just cannot figure it out,” Hall said. “But those times are when the Holy Spirit really moves and we have seen people share how the Lord has healed them from things or how someone really needs prayer and we just surround them and lift them up.”

But Hall also said she would love to see Awakening grow and hopefully one day have a Union faculty or staff member involved. Until then she said they will keep meeting and worshiping with the hope that more people will come when the Lord is ready.

Awakening meets at 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel. In addition to worship, members also meet at 7:30 on Thursdays in the Bowld Commons.

Image courtesy of Cardinal & Cream|Cardinal & Cream
About Cardinal & Cream 1009 Articles
The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.