Since August, a group of Wheaton College freshmen have been meeting for worship, prayer and student-led Bible studies. Freshman Will Huffman, a Biblical and theological studies major, told the Record that these times of worship began before arrival on campus. While he was at Passage, he and fellow freshman Ellison Ruch were worshipping together one afternoon and noticed peers gathering until they became “a big group of people.”
Upon arriving on campus, the worship sessions continued and their attendance grew. According to the Wheaton College website, New Student Worship was held in Pierce Chapel on Aug. 27 from 7:30 to 10 p.m.
After this time of worship, Huffman said that Ruch suggested that they continue their time of fellowship after the New Student Worship, saying that the “Spirit’s really present.”
“We tried to talk to ask some of the people in the chapel if we could use the stage and stuff like that,” said Huffman. “But they said no, which totally makes sense.”
Instead, Ruch and Huffman went to their dorm rooms and returned with their guitars to worship. Huffman explained that they held this unplanned time of worship in the space between Edman Chapel and Pierce Chapel. He told the Record that this time consisted of “joyful” singing, confession and “being before the Lord yourself.”
He estimates that over 100 freshmen gathered to continue worshipping. By the time they concluded at 11:30 p.m., Huffman estimates that between 50 to 60 people remained.
The freshmen did not stop worshipping after that night. Huffman told the Record that after All School worship on Tuesday Aug. 28, he and Ruch again gathered to worship, this time with upperclassmen joining.
The third night of worship was held on Sunday, Sept. 2 in the Fischer Hall Thunder Room. This time, Huffman said fewer people attended. He explained that since meeting with someone who leads the already existing Gold Star Chapel worship times, the group of freshmen has not gathered to worship.
“We are thinking about merging with the Gold Star Chapel group that’s already consistently doing their worship,” said Huffman. He emphasized that he wants worship to be class-inclusive. There are separate freshmen-led Bible studies for men and women. Huffman said that the men have met once so far, on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Freshman Brienzi Duffy, a psychology major, leads the women’s Bible study. She said they have met once to read and discuss the first chapter of John. She expects that the women’s Bible studies will be held weekly on Sundays.
Huffman admits that he did not begin the worship sessions and Bible studies with revival in mind. Coming out of worship, however, he noticed “something that was above and beyond us.”
Since then, he said he has been praying for revival on campus in people’s hearts. “When I pray for revival I’m thinking about a lot of people being changed in their hearts to treasure the Lord more. I think the Lord’s trying to do something here,” said Huffman.
“We’re going to do everything we can to help that continue and accomplish that for him.” Junior Piper Kirkpatrick, an urban studies and Biblical and theological studies double major, served as a Passage leader last summer. Starting her freshman year, Kirkpatrick said, she saw a senior pray on the steps of the Billy Graham Center.
He prayed for a group of Wheaton students to gather in prayer on those steps. According to Kirkpatrick, this came true when some of her peers started praying and worshiping with him on those steps.
This group of people began the group that now worships on Saturday nights at Gold Star Chapel.
“We would just pray for revival on campus and just pray that the Lord’s presence would be on campus,” said Kirkpatrick, speaking of the prayer and worship meetings held in Gold Star Chapel.
Regarding the night of worship the freshmen had after the New Student Worship on Aug. 8, Kirkpatrick said, “It was such a Holy Spirit-led night and time because people would just stand up and say what was on their heart and the worship leaders created that space. For me it was kind of an image of what we had been doing in Gold Star for the past two years.” As a leader of Passage, she said she receives texts about freshmen-led worship times almost every other day.
Kirkpatrick said that she believes revival occurs in the “ordinary day-to-day.” She has seen this in the “nature of campus” not only among freshmen but upperclassmen,