Kansas colleges come together to worship rather than compete
With around 250 students from seven area colleges crowded into Bubbert’s, the Bethel College snack shop, on the evening of April 20, two students from Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina told Bethel’s campus pastor, Amy Barker, “We don’t have anything like this at KW.”
“This” was Crossroads, a special contemporary worship event held at Bethel but planned by people from several colleges. Barker’s reply: “Neither do we!”
But, she went on to tell the students, “together, we can form this kind of energy and power in numbers and music that is conducive to, and encouraging of, this style of worship.”
Max Wedel, Bethel freshman from Tucson, Ariz., agreed. “After a few semi-failed attempts at starting a periodic informal worship gathering here on campus, Amy and I tried to come up with some ideas to kind of get things kicked off and get kids interested and energized,” he said. “The idea for this joint-college worship event came up in one of those discussions. I think Amy talked to Deanna [Wisdom, Haury Hall resident director] about it, and she was excited to make it happen.”
“I’ve wanted to get this going for two years,” Barker said. “Every time I mentioned it, I felt support from the other colleges. But I couldn’t get to it. Finally I gave it to Deanna to carry. She’s incredibly gifted in event planning. She organized it all with advertising, marketing, ordering T-shirts, arranging catering by Druber’s [Donuts] and Moka’s [coffee shop] and contacting the colleges.
“She worked with a team of our students at every step, so that they determined most of the details. I helped form the content of the program with help from Tabor and Central [Christian College in McPherson]. It truly was a collaborative effort, from start to finish.”
In addition to Bethel, Central Christian and Tabor Colleges and Kansas Wesleyan University, students from Hesston, McPherson and Sterling Colleges attended Crossroads. Students from Bethany College in Lindsborg were invited but had too many schedule conflicts that evening.
“What’s so strong about Crossroads is that it’s bigger than [Bethel], so it doesn’t depend on us and it isn’t confined or defined by us,” Barker continued. “All the small Kansas colleges are in similar situations. We can’t each offer every type of worship style to suit all our students. So coming together like this meets the spiritual needs of some students on all our campuses. And the students really liked meeting people from other campuses who enjoy worshipping God in a similar way. Many of them have already said they can’t wait until the next Crossroads.
“I think what surprised them all, and what they kept talking about, was how cool it was to be together and experience unity in their Christian faith instead of competition or rivalry. It gave them a spiritual boost they had never experienced in college.”
“We feel very good about the event,” said Wisdom. “It was successful on many levels. We’ll keep working at it for the year to come, as there are always things that can be tweaked. The next Crossroads is May 6 at Sterling College, and Tabor has scheduled the first Crossroads of the fall semester for Sept. 6.”
“Crossroads is one of the most amazing things to happen at Bethel since I’ve been here,” said Barker. “I was thinking about how fitting it is that Bethel hosted the first Crossroads, given how we value peacemaking among diverse peoples. What made the evening so meaningful was the students’ eagerness to worship together and make new friends with those from other colleges, so that the normally competitive dynamics among these colleges were quelled by Christian fellowship. And clearly God’s spirit was present, working and moving among us. This was definitely a ‘God’ event!”