By Mary Watson Vernolle | Reporter
Beginning at 9 p.m. February 15, Vertical Ministries will resume in-person services, with videos available online to those who feel more comfortable participating, according to an email from a Vertical staff member.
Vertical Ministries, established at Baylor in 2009, has a mission of seeking to challenge college students to actively pursue an authentic and “vertical” relationship with God.
Before the pandemic, Vertical’s weekly gatherings typically consisted of worship in a community setting, engaging students in conversation and fellowship with one another. In response to the pandemic, the ministry had gone completely virtual and hosted online conversations with guest speakers. The guest speaker series is now set to continue with more in-person events.
Due to health and safety precautions, organizations like Vertical had to develop new ways to reach the Baylor community. Several of those involved in Vertical said the challenge created a new and enriched experience for students across campus.
“One of the most incredible and unexpected results from COVID has been Monday night Vertical watch-parties when volunteers who have now converted to being hosts will get a group of 10 or less together to watch and talk about it,” Los Angeles sophomore Stewart Cox, the active president of Vertical, said about the new guest speaker series they have adopted in response to the pandemic.
“It has been super discussion heavy, and I have seen so much fruit from it,” Cox said. “It’s honestly been so amazing and surprising at the same time. I never would’ve seen this coming.”
Cox, who joined Vertical his freshman year, said he has felt directly impacted by this new series and the conversations that have come with it.
“Jen Wilkin was an incredible speaker who came the first week. She totally blew away everyone that I was watching with,” Cox said. “She is so influential, especially among Christian women, and she was so good at talking about what everyone was thinking and no one was saying. It totally changed a lot of what my friends do now. I have never seen a bigger shift of action from a speaker. She had such a great impact on us.”
Plano junior Neha Batawala serves as the vice president of missions for Vertical and has been volunteering since her freshman year as well.
“I love Vertical, and it has been such a huge part of my college experience,” Batawala said. “Vertical does a great job of equipping students on how to live out their faith and make it their own in college.”
When describing what makes this series so different, Batawala explained the uniqueness of this experience and why guest speakers are able to make such an impact on college students.
“We have never done anything like this before. We have never done interview-style questions for guest speakers,” Batawala said. “They are passionate about pouring into this generation.”
Cox and Batawala both said they are eager for this semesters’ schedule of guest speakers and excited about the impact that they will make on Baylor students.
Speakers, including Timothy “TA” Ateek from Breakaway Ministries and Todd Wagner from Watermark Community Church in Dallas, have already discussed various topics such as leadership and what it means to be a part of a church. Students can expect to hear more from Dale Wallace, the current executive director of Vertical, as well during this semester.