This semester, Graceland’s Chaplains have brought a variety of activities to Wednesday night. Interested students can now choose from yoga, young adult fellowship, or Bible study at 7 pm on Wednesdays.
The changes were made after the Chaplains noted potential exclusivity among previously Community of Christ-heavy Wednesday night services.
According to Chaplain president, Travis Watanabe, the Chaplains were very interested in ways to branch out and reach a diverse amount of students. The Chaplains are trying to offer something new, not just a typical service. If someone is interested in yoga, she can try that. If someone is interested in the young adult group (dubbed YAGU), he can try that. The Bible study is available, too, for people who might appreciate it. The activities, rather than focusing on being religious, are focusing on being inclusive.
In fact, the plans for new Wednesday activities were in the works as early as October of last semester. Early on, though, there were fears about the ways in which the new activities might affect Chaplain unity and student attendance. However, the very first night of new Wednesday, on January 29th, around 60 students attended across all three events. This was up from an average of around 20-25 per week of the old style services. A few weeks into the new Wednesday night activities, the change was also widely supported by the Chaplains, despite the necessary divisions across the groups.
Since January, there has been some drop in attendance, but new people have continually been arriving and showing interest in returning.
The new activities were chosen purposely by the Chaplains in order to simultaneously meet students’ spiritual needs and differentiate Chaplains from other groups, such as IMs and COSA. According to Watanabe, the choices offered by yoga, YAGU, and Bible study encompass “different spiritual practices” that can reach a wider student audience – even those students who are not particularly religious. While some students might not get much out of a Bible study or sermon, they could find peace of mind through yoga, for example.
Yoga is led by Kinsey Horringa and Lexi Cairns (Khiyah). YAGU is led by Darcy Volz (Solah) and Haley Larson (Amici). Bible study is led by Matt Frizzell and Devin Glaser.
Yoga meets in the Shaw Center Dance Room, and helps people learn yoga poses and techniques.
YAGU meets in the Shaw Center lobby, and is focused on fellowship. This includes things like mixers, games, and sharing that help people get to know others better. YAGU also sometimes includes devotionals, as well.
Bible study meets in the Cheville Chapel, and is a focused approach to a New Testament book, chapter by chapter, starting with Galatians.
Despite the more or less chronological layout of the New Testament (starting with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Galatians is thought to have been written first. Galatians dates from around 50 CE, while Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are from around 80-100 CE. By starting with Galatians, the Bible study group is trying to trace a timeline of the early Christian church, getting a better understanding of context and how what is in the Bible might be relevant for individuals today.
While Watanabe admits that these events do not address everyone’s needs, more people than before seem able to find something worthwhile among the different options. If you have any suggestions about new events that might be successful, let Campus Ministries know. Maybe next semester, your idea will be a Wednesday night option.