By Karis Rogerson
Asbury’s annual Fall Revival, led this year by Bill and Diane Ury, encouraged students to discover “the beauty of salvation” and elicited both positive and negative responses from students with its emphasis on spiritual renewal.
Freshman Alli Acuff said some of her expectations going into Fall Revival were to grow closer to God and learn something new, and that she was excited for the week. After attending two chapel services and one evening service, she said, “I definitely enjoyed the services and I really loved the things that the Urys had to say,” and that the worship part of those services went far in providing a safe place for students to worship.
“I realized that, as the church, we are married to the coolest, most powerful – we have the best husband in the world,” Acuff said of the lessons she learned, adding that she was struck most by the beauty of who Christ is – a sentiment that is reflected in the theme of “The Beauty of Salvation.”
Junior Elijah Friedeman attended several of the extra evening services; he said, “I think it is important to open myself up to what God wants to do in me, especially during a week we as a campus have set apart for renewal.”
Friedeman especially enjoyed Dr. Bill Ury’s messages Thursday night and Friday morning. “His challenge to give God total control over our lives is one that we all need to be reminded of, no matter where we are in our relationships with Jesus,” Friedeman said.
For Ashley Eastwood, another freshman, Fall Revival was an outcropping of Asbury’s emphasis on spiritual vitality. “I love that Asbury places a big role on academics but an even bigger role on my spiritual life,” Eastwood said. “That is so important to me because without God I wouldn’t be at this school today.”
Other students, however, chose not to attend the revival very much, for various reasons. Junior Kyle Thiele said he did not attend any of the evening services, because he disagrees with Asbury’s emphasis on revival. He believes revival weeks are an attempt to recreate previous spontaneous revivals on campus. “It could be considered Christian spiritual peer pressure; trying to force a group of people into an experience,” Thiele said. “Thankfully, the evening services are not mandatory,” he added.
Isaac Archer, student body president, also did not attend many of the services, for completely different reasons from Thiele’s. “I had 3 exams, a quiz and a presentation in 4 days,” he said, but added that, “Both Dr. Ury and Mrs. Ury spoke with authority and experience in both of their fields and brought a lot of great points that Asbury needed to hear.”
Another senior, Rica Wiersema, thought that while the services were good in and of themselves, they were filled with religious jargon that would make it hard for nonbelievers to understand. “It was a message aimed at people running from God, but it was not written in a way that would be clear or appealing to them,” Wiersema said.
Eastwood especially enjoyed the evening talks about relationships in the dorms with the Urys. “It was a good time for the girls to come together and learn about something about the opposite gender that we would never ask guys,” she said.
According to Greg Haseloff, associate dean for campus ministries and campus chaplain, Asbury founder John Wesley Hughes’ reasoning for starting the school was, “so that students can be saved, sanctified and ready to serve,” and that Fall Revival is an outcropping of that desire to see students be saved. He added that the Revival is located at the beginning of the school year to further that purpose.
Thiele chose not to attend services because, he said, “My main question is why do we have to set a week each year hoping that something big will happen in that time slot? I feel that we should let the original Revival be part of our heritage and history, but not use it to fulfill a set spiritual agenda.”