Students gather at Hostetter chapel every Thursday night for an hour of worship. The best part? Unlike chapel, attendance is not required from the student body. Rather, students of all backgrounds voluntarily come together to create a Powerhouse for Christ.
Powerhouse originally began with the concept of community. “It started in 1989 with a group of students who decided to have a ‘worship’ night one Thursday,” said Powerhouse President Regan Hershey. “From what I know, about 15 people showed up. It went well, so they decided to continue having it every Thursday night, to where it has now grown to about 400 people weekly.”
There is a lot of careful thought and preparation put into making a meaningful night of worship for students each week as the musicians need to work with the sound and tech crew during rehearsals.
“Because we host Powerhouse in Hostetter each week, we need to completely set up and tear down everything every single week,” Hershey said. Hershey added that extensive time is spent on getting sound and tech right during practice, as the set up and tear down process can leave room for errors.
As for the set list, musicians will base their choices off of scripture. “We want to select songs that will reveal God’s nature and invite people to sing along,” said Kelly Shea, student worship chaplain. According to Shea, there is also a balance between choosing songs that have been sung repeatedly, or songs that are new, while still being able to bring in different genres and styles of music that will encourage everyone to join in.
Shea also explained that being involved with Powerhouse has provided everyone with an open space to connect with the Lord. “I know for me, before I was in Powerhouse, it was a blessing to receive those lyrics and be able to profess them, without worrying how I was doing musically. But I could just assess how I was doing spiritually,” Shea stated. “Now that I have been able to be in [Powerhouse], it has provided me the opportunity to wed the two together.”
Powerhouse has also provided a safe space for students on campus. Hosana Kawashima, a junior peace and conflicts studies major said, “It’s my go-to place ever since I was a first-year here. I came to Messiah with super high expectations that everyone was on fire for Jesus.” Chris Muchimba, a junior digital media major, adds that it helps to relieve the stress of homework: “Coming [to Powerhouse] kind of takes away that burden. I feel free,” Muchimba stated.
According to sophomore Chinese studies major Rachel Gaugler, Powerhouse is simply a time of genuine worship for all students. Gaugler stated, “People are here, want to be here, because it’s so genuine and that’s what makes it such a good community.”