Campus Ministries offers a variety of ways through which students can be poured into spiritually. Students have been very blessed to be able to attend as many or as few as they’d like, and it is important that we do not take any of it for granted. One of the many events students have the opportunity to attend is Vespers, a meeting on Wednesday nights where students can gather for a time of worship, Word, and prayer. Everything is student led, beginning with worship led by the worship apprentices, followed by a message from a student leader (such as a life group leader, captain, or member of Campus Ministries staff), and closing with a time for students to spend in prayer.
While compiling what I wanted to share about Vespers, I had an opportunity to sit down with Ethan Voight, a friend of mine and a part of Vespers planning. During this conversation, I came to a better understanding of how to accurately portray these Wednesday night meetings to those who have not yet had the joy of experiencing them, as well as understand the heart behind Vespers.
One of the most beautiful aspects of Vespers is its emphasis on prayer. I asked Ethan how he would explain Vespers to someone who had no preconceived idea or expectation of what it would look like. We talked a bit about comparisons to other Campus Ministries events, but it was at the end of this conversation that Ethan mentioned the emphasis of prayer, and it struck me. He said, “Everything we do leads up to corporate prayer. Corporate prayer is the culmination of the service.”
This is such a beautiful thing to emphasize in a body of believers. Prayer is often something that is done either on our own as we go about our day, or before eating a meal; but to have a time that is especially dedicated to talking with God is so special. Vespers not only leaves space for the individual to spend time in reflection and communion with the Lord, but also for groups to gather to intercede for each other. The emphasis it places upon prayer is a unique aspect of Vespers that is not only admirable, but also so needed in our current season of life (or any season for that matter).
Another important topic Ethan and I discussed was the heart that the Vespers team had for this semester specifically. He told me, “We recognize that coming into this semester, a lot of us had some wounds and had some hurt that we had to bring before the Lord.” Further, He shared with me, “The first five weeks of Vespers has been dealing with our own hearts.” The Vespers team has such a heart for the pain that so many students brought into this year, whether they are new or are finishing their time at Regent.
It would be dismissive for me not to address COVID-19 and how it has affected the student body and Campus Ministries specifically. In such turbulent and confusing times, we don’t know what social gatherings to cancel and what to keep. However, I believe it is important that events such as Vespers are held. Ethan and I closed our conversation on Vespers by talking about the motivation to hold Campus Ministries gatherings. He put it this way: “We’re here not to just cultivate mind but cultivate soul, and we want to grow not just academically but spiritually.” He concluded by saying, “We can’t do that [grow] effectively if we’re not participating in the body of Christ….. The Christian life isn’t meant to be done independently.” I think this really exemplifies the reason for Campus Ministries as a whole. There is so much growth in community and fellowship. When we come together to worship, to learn, grow, and pray, we get to do the Christian life together.
As a whole, I think it’s important to know the heart behind Campus Ministries events. Vespers is intended to be a time of prayer and study of the Word in an intimate setting. It is a great way to get plugged in to the Regent community, and I would highly encourage you to attend.