The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Worship isn’t reserved for Vespers

United Worship Ministries started a Friday night worship option for Bethel University students in the Lakeside Center Chapel, inspired by Nick Cocalis’ Friday chapel.
Sarah Bomhoff
Elvira Obada played piano as a student worshiped in LSC Chapel at 6 p.m. Sept. 22. She led instrumental worship as a part of the weekly Friday night Prayer Room, which is a new option for all students at Bethel University. “Do you need to go to a community event like BSG and hang out with people on Friday nights or do you need to just spend time with the Lord?” Obada said.

Joshua Hahn played piano in a room of seven people. Coming and going when they wished, Bethel University students got a taste of one-on-one worship with the Lord. Students listened  while they sat praying with their eyes closed, singing their own song or reading their Bibles. This was the start of an alternative to Friday night campus events — Prayer Room.

The first Prayer Room took place in the Lakeside Center Chapel at 6 p.m. Sept. 15. Led by Hahn, the United leaders team created this weekly Friday night worship space in alignment with the new message Nick Cocalis – Men’s Golf Coach, Athletic Development Officer and Seminary student – preached about during the Friday chapel series titled “New Beginnings.” He shared with students the importance of what they choose to do on weekend nights.

Joshua Hahn and Sam Climaco practice for their Vespers set in the LSC library at 9 p.m. Oct. 2. The two are co-leaders for their Vespers team and lead a weekly two-hour practice. “We knew that Bethel needed something different for worship,” Climaco said. (Maggie Holland)

“We felt like meeting with God can happen [at Vespers], but it can also just as powerfully happen in intimate spaces,” Hahn said. 

During Welcome Week this year, the United team realized that students wanted more spaces to connect with God. 

“As the United leaders team, we felt like there was a nonverbal yearning in the student body to have a place to intimately meet with God,” Hahn said. 

Hahn looked at other local worship models and landed on something similar to the devotional sets at EVERYDAY Church, a church in St. Anthony where, according to its website, “devotional sets are laidback and distraction-free, creating an ideal atmosphere for personal connection with God through the study of the Word and prayer.” Rather than the corporate worship setting – a crowd of believers worshiping together like Vespers – one worship leader plays piano or acoustic guitar to lead in a time of reflective prayer.

Vespers takes place with the intention of worshiping alongside one another, but the Prayer Room is reserved for more personal, one-on-one time with God. Both options are unique, but United’s goal of experiencing Christ in these spaces remains the same.

Worship can happen anywhere. It can happen in your room and your car. But it does help to have some sort of atmosphere, some sort of special place to go.

— Sam Climaco, senior United leader

“Think of church and home,” senior Sam Climaco said. “You go to church with your buddies… and at home, it’s maybe yourself or maybe with your parents or siblings. It’s even more intimate.” 

Climaco is one of the United leaders who plays keyboard and drums. He was present when they were deciding to add something more to United Worship Ministries during training week.

“Worship can happen anywhere,” Climaco said. “It can happen in your room and your car. But it does help to have some sort of atmosphere, some sort of special place to go.” 

Cocalis has begun a sermon series for Friday chapel services encouraging students to be “weekend warriors.” Throughout this series, Cocalis prompts students to be thoughtful about what their weekend looks like and how to keep pursuing Christ over the weekend. The Prayer Room is in alignment with Cocalis’ vision for making the “Friday night choice,” as it gives students another option specifically on Friday nights where they can choose to spend time with God. The United team has also placed a piano by the Egg that is “reserved for spontaneous worship” in hopes that students worship God more than just on Sundays.

“[There’s] intentionality with everything, even like pulling the piano out,” senior Elvira Obada said. “Let’s give people more spaces to spend more time with the Lord.”

Alum Savannah Carlson made a handout titled “Spending an hour with God” for Bethel’s 24-hour worship service last year. With the goal that spending an hour with God is freeing, the United team brought the sheet back to display in the Prayer Room. This graphic is inspired by the original handout. (Kyle Peterson)

Obada led the second Prayer Room Sept. 22. As the United administrator, Obada played a role in the logistics. She reserved a time, put up posters and made sure a team member would be available to lead the Prayer Room.

“It’s another space for people who might not like public gatherings and just want intentional, intimate time to feel free to take advantage of,” Obada said. “It’s not like it’s mandatory.”

The intentionality that Obada noted included the location. United leaders suggested the Prayer Chapel, Benson Great Hall and the Underground as potential Prayer Room locations before settling on the LSC Chapel. Prayer Room takes place there with the purpose of bringing students away from their daily lives and routines so they are able to focus solely on spending time with the Lord. 

“We are catering to the people who are going to take that walk to get there and to pull away in the same way that Jesus pulled away on the Mount of Olives and talked with the Father,” Hahn said. “We want it to be kind of simple.”

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About the Contributors
Annelise Raisanen
Annelise Raisanen, Staff Reporter
Annelise Raisanen, 20, is a Communication Arts and Literature Education 5-12 major. She enjoys her long walks to campus from North Village to the E&J department, hammocking every chance she gets (even overnight) and painting her favorite book covers to hang throughout her apartment.  [email protected] | 612-406-7758
Kyle Peterson
Kyle Peterson, Art Director
Kyle Peterson, 22, is a junior double major in studio art and graphic design. Most of his hobbies lie in whichever game he’s been hyperfixated on lately, he is statistically unbeatable at tic-tac-toe and he spends much of his spare time listening to podcasts/YouTube shows. Ask him about the FNAF timeline at your own peril. [email protected] | 612.447.8870

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