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Optional Worship Should Stay Optional: Eastern’s administration fails to adequately advertise the OneGen brunch worship service.

If you were at Sunday brunch at the Dining Commons on Feb. 20, you probably noticed One Gen leading a worship session at that time there. If you’re like me, you had no idea this was going to happen. And it wasn’t exactly a pleasant surprise.

I’m not here to attack One Gen or student worship leaders. Absolutely not — this is a Christian university, I am a Christian, and I expect worship to happen here. However, as far as I know, worship at this university day-to-day is optional and non-mandatory. It should stay that way. There wasn’t enough of a heads-up to the student body to fairly call this worship session “optional.”

Why is it important that worship here stay optional? Well, for two reasons. Firstly, it’s undeniable that many students here have a difficult relationship with the church and with worship as an extension. Either because they’re LGTBQ+, were raised in toxic church environments, or any other reason (there are many). I know I’m not the only one for whom this is the case. 

Secondly, students with sensory or audio processing issues may not be able to handle worship at such a volume for the length of a whole meal, and something like that might throw off their plans and significantly distress them. 

Again, I know I am not the only student for whom this is true. A full sound setup worship session in a highly-trafficked, popular area without sufficient warning is likely to alienate a good portion of the student body. Again, I’m not upset that Christian worship is happening at a Christian university; I’m concerned about the lack of heads-up that might lead to the opposite effect the event organizers were hoping for.

While there was a small note in a Weekly Happenings email from student engagement, one screen of a few others on rotation on a monitor in the entrance to the DC, and a few flyers in Walton, there was no other announcement for this event. These do not seem like enough, since all of these options are very easily missed. No one really reads the Weekly Happenings email, so it’s very easy to ignore the screen in the entrance to the DC or not see that individual slide completely, and it’s hard even to find a flyer you’re looking for in Walton, because there’s so many.

Here’s the thing. If this is a recurring event, say, twice per month, then there should be more announcements than just these easily-missed things described above. Even if it were just a one-time thing, it’s not enough. I help run a club here myself — I know how much logistical strategy goes into making just one of these things happen. It’s tough. 

Again, I’m not criticizing One Gen here. But the administrators who get these requests from clubs on their desks need to do better here. For example, signing off on a few easily-missed flyers or DC monitor announcements for a club who meets in a classroom at 8pm on a Tuesday is one thing. Allowing the same amount and type of announcements for a loud worship session that’s meeting at one of the most attended meals of the week, on the day when most students have very limited options for eating? That’s different, and those administrators should know better than to assume that students have the time, energy or mental capacity to observe and take note of the contents of every email they receive, every flyer they see or every monitor they encounter. That’s too much, and it’s not our job. 

So, administrators, please be more mindful of the nature of club events that come across your desk. Please consider the needs and experiences of such large portions of the student body when it comes to loud worship events in mostly unavoidable, highly populated areas of campus. 

To One Gen: thank you for your desire to make Sunday brunch a little holier. I love that you’re here and worshipping so proudly and enthusiastically. I just wish that I could have appreciated it more, had others here at Eastern been more considerate.

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