Waco students gather for ‘revival’ worship service

Participants were encouraged to worship however comfortable for them by sitting, kneeling or standing. Katy Mae Turner | Photographer

By Raylee Foster | Staff Writer

As the president of Asbury University moves toward ending the student “revival” movement — a worship service that has continued nonstop since Feb. 8 in Wilmore, Ky. — Baylor students prayed it would make it’s way to Waco, and these prayers seem to have been answered.

On Feb. 19, Harris Creek Baptist Church held a worship and prayer service on Baylor’s campus, which has led students to participate in daily worship since. Services have been held from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. at Elliston Chapel, the George W. Truett Seminary Chapel and several off-campus locations.

Will Bowden, director of Waco Baptist Student Ministry, works with Christian organizations at McLennan Community College, Baylor and Texas State Technical College. He said the worshiping occurring on these campuses is student-led.

“The thing about what’s happening right now is that it’s very student-led… Sunday night there’s mostly students leading the prayer time and on Monday [from] 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., most of it was students coming up and confessing and sharing scripture. That’s probably why a lot of faculty don’t know yet: it really is students leading students,” Bowden said.

Bowden also said a large part of the revival movement in Asbury was encouraged by the university’s president who spread word of the worship. Bowden said he believes the president of Baylor could do the same thing.

“We have an amazing, God-fearing president at Baylor,” Bowden said. “Her and her husband love Jesus, and they’re behind a lot of this as well, so who knows what could happen if faculty get behind it.”

McLennan Community College Baptist Student Ministry president Lauren Baker said their worship service on Tuesday had been planned for months, before any “revival” began to grow in popularity. She said she has known God was going to move in her generation for years, and is happy to see it happen at Asbury and Waco. She said she hopes both cases are sincere in their intentions to praise God.

Worship songs were played throughout the night as guests sang along. Katy Mae Turner | Photographer
Worship songs were played throughout the night and encouraged fellow worshippers to sing along. Katy Mae Turner | Photographer

“I think we need to stay on the track of not trying to force anything; I just hope that Christians aren’t trying to exactly replicate what’s happening in Asbury and that they’re trying to have their own mix and really trying to worship God in their own way,” Baker said.

In a statement from Feb. 21, Dr. Kevin Brown, president of Asbury University, said the continuous public worship will come to an end on Asbury’s campus Feb. 23. Brown said the revival worship was not something the university manufactured and cannot stop it; however, they are moving worship opportunities to different locations.

“I have been asked if Asbury is ‘stopping’ this outpouring of God’s Spirit and the stirring of human hearts,” Kevin said in his statement. “I have responded by pointing out that we cannot stop something we did not start. This was never planned.”

The halt of “revival” in Kentucky seemingly has no effect on students in Waco. Baylor, MCC and TSTC students are gathering to worship in various locations and have been doing so since Feb. 19.

Members of the Waco community gathered at the center of MCC's campus to sing and worship together. Katy Mae Turner | Photographer
Members of the Waco community gathered at the center of MCC's campus to sing and worship together. Katy Mae Turner | Photographer

Alpine, Calif., freshman Nolan Brown said he attended the 7 p.m. service on both Sunday and Monday and said the Holy Spirit is leading this movement.

“After the 7 p.m. service behind the [Bill Daniel Student Center], many of us still felt the Holy Spirit moving so we went to Elliston Chapel where we continued to worship,” Nolan said. “The chapel had this powerful presence and feeling that just drew me in closer.”

Nolan said his experience in the chapel was similar to the experiences of Bowden; those who attended were primarily students and were led by students.

“There were no faculty members or church staff, just regular people coming together to praise the Savior,” Nolan said.

TSTC student Tate Stroud said he attended the worship in Elliston Chapel Sunday and Monday as well. He said it was unlike anything he had ever experienced, and he was moved to worship in ways he hadn’t before. Not only did his worship involve participating in singing, but he also said it included confessing sins and reading scriptures among others.

Later Tuesday, students gathered at Elliston Chapel to continue worship services. Katy Mae Turner | Photographer
Later Tuesday, students gathered at Elliston Chapel to continue worship services. Katy Mae Turner | Photographer

“Everybody was praying, jumping up and down, singing worship songs or, like, me and my two friends that went there, we went in one corner and were saying some scriptures from our Bible and stuff,” Stroud said. “I thought raising your hands and jumping up and down was weird but actually, I did it and felt like myself there. I didn’t feel like what I wear or what I do can be judged. It felt awesome.”

Bowden said information about worship for college students is readily available. Churches, campus organizations and other faith-based programs in the Waco area are actively encouraging students to participate in this worship movement, and social media is a key tool in sharing the message.

“I would just say look on social media anywhere; Vertical, FM72, BSM,” Bowden said. “A lot of these churches are posting stuff about it so it’s not hard to find.”

Baker said he encourages students to attend despite feeling this worship does not apply to their faith.

“People who don’t know Christ; I have joy because of Christ and there’s a difference between happiness and joy,” Baker said. “Happiness does not last, joy is something that lasts even in the darkest of times, and there’s no reason that I have that except for God so I highly recommend [attending].”