La Alianza Latina (LAL) collaborated with College Ministries to host a Tuesday night service on Oct. 22. This was more than a simple infusion of diversity, but LAL orchestrated the entire event – from choosing the songs to writing the prayer and inviting the speaker. Songs alternated between Spanish and English, and the prayer was spoken in both as well.
“The collaboration was more than I expected it to be,” said Vice President of LAL Bethany Rivera. “It was great being able to bring a new style of worship to campus, a style that so many Hispanic and Latino students connect with.”
So what initiated this event, and why is College Ministries intentional about increasing inclusion? For starters, the idea for this collaboration began two years ago but never came to fruition. After weeks of diligent planning this semester, the two organizations finalized the program.
“From our perspective, the chapel from LAL was a resounding [double thumbs up],” Worship Pastor Doug Curry said. “This was very meaningful from initial conversations and ideas, LAL’s advisor inviting the speaker, to us being able to represent worship leadership from a variety of Latino expressions.”
This chapel contributes to a long history of collaborations that attempt to bring in more diversity to College Ministries’ programs. Throughout Curry’s 25 years at Messiah, there have been a variety of collaborations from clubs all around campus that promote different aspects of diversity. For him, these partnerships are an opportunity to exemplify a piece of Heaven.
This semester, there has been noticeably more representation in chapel. We’ve seen various theologies and topics coupled with expressions of worship that stray out of Messiah’s typical style.
“It’s not pandering to some modern ideal that we need to make sure everybody is represented,” Curry says. “No, we want to make sure everyone is represented because God’s kingdom is diverse, beautiful, richly colored.”
By promoting a “biblical reality,” College Ministries can engage more identities across campus. Lead Director of Student Ministries Patrick Kelly said opportunities to branch out also challenge students to find new ways of incorporating their faith through worship.
“We build people up and encourage them, and then find ways to do that in places like chapel that allow for them to experience God in a new light,” Kelly said. “For those who don’t commonly hear their voice on campus, [we are] able to give them that spot to worship God.”
However, accomplishing this task is more complicated than what students may think. In the past, collaborations have fallen through or fell flat for a variety of reasons. Rather than adhering strictly to typical styles that may be simpler, College Ministries and Student Ministries commit to incorporating diversity and various expressions.
“It’s hard to do it really well, and it’s pretty easy to make a lot of mistakes along the way,” Curry said. “But we have the courage to try and recognize that our intention is to bring meaning and connection to our community as a whole through worship.”