With restrictions on leaving campus this semester as well as different churches having different reopening plans and policies, for many on campus going to church on Sundays has become increasingly complicated. While many students on campus have been participating in virtual church services, the general consensus seems to be that worshipping virtually isn’t the same as gathering together and worshipping in community with one another.
OneGeneration, a club on campus centered around community and worship, began the process of making more students aware of their Sunday worship services as well as making them more accessible for more students in conjunction with the school and state’s COVID-19 safety regulations.
Xeyah Martin, one of the student leaders of OneGen, was able to sit down and talk with me about what
the process was like in putting together these bigger worship sessions in the midst of a pandemic.
In preparing for this semester, the student leaders of OneGen met with their advisor, Dr. Jackie Irving. In this meeting, the topic of trying to keep students on campus on the weekends came up.
“If we expanded the Sunday service and make it more churchy and church-friendly, that’s one way we
can keep people on campus on Sunday mornings. The Sunday service grew because of that,” Martin said.
Moving from holding services in McInnis Auditorium to under the tent outside of the Kea-Guffin Residence Hall, to a now virtual format to accommodate for the colder weather, OneGen hoped that more students would get involved in worship while staying safe and socially distant whenever possible.
Choosing a location is only one of the parts of the planning process for these services. “We have to find a speaker, a guest speaker – we like to bring in a minister or a preacher – and then we have to book the locations, we have to make sure the time and space is available … and then I have various meetings with Dr. Irving, and Dr. Modica about the service,” Martin said.
Though there is quite a bit of planning that goes into these services behind the scenes, there is even more planning when it comes to the program of the service. Worship leaders have to choose and practice the songs they will lead, guest speakers have to prepare their sermons, and the event has to be advertised to students.
With each service, there is also a desire to keep improving their services to better meet the students’
spiritual needs. “We talk about what we want [the service] to look like, we talk about what went well last
time, what could improve on, how was the speaker. We basically grade ourselves and see how we can improve every time,” Martin said, regarding OneGen’s weekly planning meetings.
All of that planning and preparation is well worth the pay-off, and Martin has been impacted by the services himself. “When [Dr. Modica] spoke, that was my favorite one, because I was just kind of going through a lot, and I started crying and just breaking down, and my team came and surrounded me, started praying for me, and things just started changing from that moment,” Martin said.
Now more than ever, finding time and space to worship and reflect on your relationship with God is
important for Christians. Martin offered words of spiritual encouragement for students in this time of
stress and uncertainty. “Take this time to rest and don’t try to take on everything because you can’t handle it. You’ve got to give it to God, you’ve got to let Him fight for it, and remember to keep praying for others, because there are so many people going through so many things that we can’t even see in this time,” Martin said.