Spiritual Emphasis Week Culminates in Baptisms on Campus
On a day that threatened stormy weather, the skies cleared as seven students followed a call to baptism in Bethel’s reflection pond after chapel. The baptism service was a celebratory conclusion to Spiritual Emphasis Week, a time on campus when students, faculty and staff are encouraged to engage in an extra set of chapel services that help establish the tone of the new school year.
This year, Pastor Tony Myles from the Connection Church in Medina, Ohio, challenged students to incorporate God into all aspects of life, rather than simply “putting Him first” on a daily list of things to accomplish. Before Myles arrived on campus, many faculty and staff members were already praying for God to move.
“I think I always pray for God to have His way,” says Shawn Holtgren, Ph.D., vice president for student development, “I also pray for spiritual freedom from baggage and habitual sin.”
Spiritual freedom was also something that senior Hannah Byard hoped would become prevalent on campus.
“I would like to see people who are able to worship without fear of judgement,” Byard says.
While Myles led the campus through times of confession, commissioning and prayer, that kind of freedom was already beginning to erupt within and outside of the chapel walls.
“Seeing the campus move gave me a whole new perspective of the people here,” says Byard, “I was refreshed and renewed. There are so many people … who are hungry for God.”
“I see kingdom culture taking place among us.” Kingdom culture stands opposed to the kind of American Christianity that calls for a revival to happen every few years. Instead, kingdom culture is a perpetual move of God.
As the week came to a close, kingdom culture was fully enacted. Seven students were baptized, and the Bethel community showed up and rallied around the pond, located right outside of the chapel. Students, faculty and staff celebrated joyously with each individual who publicly declared their faith through this act.
Afterward, Cidney DoBrodt, a chapel band leader and senior, led everyone in a brief time of worship. As the crowd harmoniously sang “Christ is Enough,” friends and family members came around many of the newly baptized students and prayed over them, surrounding them with both prayer and song.
Though Byard has been a Christian most of her life, she had never felt called to baptism. A few days before Spiritual Emphasis Week began, she read in her Bible about Christ’s own baptism, then heard it preached about at her church that Sunday. When Holtgren announced that a baptismal service would be held after Friday’s chapel, Byard knew that she had to sign up.
“I thought, this isn’t an RA thing to do, but I knew if I was going to tell my girls to be bold, I needed to lead in that.”
While Spiritual Emphasis Week has come to a close, it is safe to say that the Holy Spirit is not done moving here at Bethel.