A night of praise: Family Weekend joins worship with Vertical for first time

Vertical fills the stands of the Ferrell Center on Family Weekend, where Baylor students and parents worshiped together for the first time. Vertical’s student-led worships begin at 9 PM every Monday. Lariat File Photo (LFP)

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer

For the first time, Vertical Ministries held a worship service as a combination event with Baylor’s Family Weekend.

Vertical, a student-led non-denominational ministry, holds its normal services Monday nights at 9 p.m. and encourages students to pursue an “authentic ‘vertical’ relationship with God.”

Friday night’s service in the Bill Daniel Student Center’s Barfield Drawing Room was a special family worship service included as part of Baylor’s Family Weekend tradition.

While Vertical is popular with students at Baylor, it was the first time the ministry held an event targeted at families and the first time the Baylor Chamber of Commerce invited the group to participate in Family Weekend.

Alexandria, Va., senior and Vertical Ministries president Emma Kelly welcomed the opportunity for Vertical Ministries to expand its reach beyond the Baylor student body.

“Our outreach is primarily students and so the opportunity to get to not only provide a space to worship with parents but also to get to share the gospel with the world was, I think, just slightly different than what we’re used to,” Kelly said.

In recent years, Family Weekend hasn’t featured a worship service as a scheduled event. Sugar Land junior Margaret Land served as the chairman for this year’s Family Weekend committee. Land believes bringing a worship service to Family Weekend was an important way to showcase Baylor’s Christian atmosphere.

“I thought it was important because it shows what campus life is like spiritually,” Land said. “It’s a great opportunity… to show parents that we’re unapologetically a Christian university.”

In addition to exposing parents to Baylor’s Christian culture, Kelly also said reaching out directly to parents gave Vertical the chance to share its spiritual message with a wider audience.

“We were really excited to get to let these parents see a little bit of what Baylor is about and the spiritual aspect that they oftentimes don’t get to see directly,” Kelly said.

Land shared the process that went into bringing Vertical onto the Family Weekend schedule.

“I was praying about what God wanted me to do… then one of our committee members… had the idea of partnering with an on-campus ministry and doing some type of parent worship night,” Land said. “Vertical was the one that first came to my mind because it’s well-known on campus and I’ve been quite a few times myself.”

Kelly described the invitation to participate in Family Weekend as an honor.

“Any organization [Baylor] could have chosen would have been great as long as they were going to share the gospel,” Kelly said. “I think the fact that they picked us was an amazing opportunity for us. We were just blessed to be involved.”

Vertical made slight adjustments for its Family Weekend worship service—the session was shorter, didn’t have the usual band and featured one worship leader, but Kelly said the more “intimate” setting made for a “super sweet time.”

“Because it was on a Friday night it wasn’t our typical Monday night crowd,” Kelly said. “That being said we did have students show up who didn’t have parents there, so that was really cool.”

Vertical also broadened its message to appeal to the families of students with a service that heavily featured the Baylor Lights theme.

“The main point of being a light on campus but also in the world… was that we’re called to engage the people around us and most importantly, to plug into the source,” Kelly said. “If we want to be individual lights… we can’t be the light in the world without knowing the light of the world.”