Earlier this year, a group of six students and faculty from Southern Adventist University participated in a special community service event at a local, low-income elementary school. As an outreach of Merge, a multicultural worship service on campus, the team hosted a pizza party for about 25 Woodmore Elementary School students who had perfect attendance, with the goal of encouraging them to attend school.
The Merge team set out with the desire to touch the lives of young students who have limited resources.
“Being able to mingle with older students who are pursuing degrees in higher education can motivate elementary students to also pursue success,” said Jucinta Rome, alumna and field instructor in Southern’s School of Social Work, who coordinated the event.
Community of Worship
Merge was founded on the concept of community. Reginald Horton, adjunct instructor in the School of Religion, saw a need for students to have the option of a new place of worship on campus. Along with other Southern employees, he built a student team of gospel musicians and worship leaders.
“Merge is an opportunity for students to worship God in a familiar worship space,” Horton said. “Our purpose is to provide an inclusive and multicultural service. We want it to be student-driven and student-led, because we want young people to minister to each other.”
What started as a once-a-month service with an attendance of about 50 students is now twice a month with approximately 150 students from a variety of backgrounds attending. After each service, attendees are invited to potluck together.
“I have seen our students grow as a community,” Horton said. “They have had the luxury to design their own worship services, including sermons and music, and they’ve claimed the service as their own. There has been growth in numbers, community, and connectivity.”
Southern Adventist University | September 2018