“Learning to be still. Learning to be like Jesus.” The tagline for the Pause nights, which started this semester, encompasses the theme that Pastor Tamara Shelton really hopes students will take ownership of this school year.
Pause nights, Spiritual Emphasis week and the spiritual retreat are all focusing on the idea of stillness and will all be happening this fall.
The nights will include some form of a worship experience along with some different practices in hopes that students will turn them into everyday habits.
The first Pause happened on Sept. 17, and Shelton said that they focused on the Lord’s supper and how you can “bring other people to the table” in your daily life.
“Throughout the semester, the next two Pause nights will focus on prayer and scripture,” Shelton said.
“As people who follow Christ, you’re always told to pray and read your Bible, but sometimes you’re not even sure how to approach it or you only know one way to approach it. We’re going to offer some different practices that you can bring into your daily life that will hopefully help you to see those simple tasks in a new way.”
The spiritual retreats last year were a huge part of how the Pause nights came about.
“The feedback that we got from students after the retreats was just how good it was to rest and sort of forget about everything else and just be in God’s presence,” Shelton said. “The Pause nights grew out of that as well as recognizing that there are students on campus who just want to go a little deeper.”
Shelton said they plan on involving faculty and staff in these nights so that they can share how they incorporate rest, stillness and solitude into their lives.
The next two Pause nights will happen on Nov. 5 and Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Fair Commons Lobby.
Spiritual Emphasis Week will take place Oct. 15-19. Aaron Niequist will be on campus for the week from Willow Creek Community Church located in the Chicago area.
Niequist is a liturgist, writer and pastor. He led worship at Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan before starting at Willow Creek. He recently finished a book titled “The Eternal Current: How a Practice-Based Faith Can Save Us from Drowning” that talks about how to bring ancient spiritual practices into the contemporary world. His wife, Shauna Niequist, is a popular author among women and has written books like “Present over Perfect” and “Shalom for the Heart.”
“His book goes along the same lines of what we’re talking about with all of the spiritual formation pieces, Pause and those same kinds of ideas,” Shelton said.
Niequist will be in chapel on Tuesday, Oct. 16, and will also be working with the chapel bands and gospel choir to do some worship training.
There will be a service on Tuesday evening as well.
“He’s from Willow Creek, and they do something called The Practice there,” Shelton said. “The people are in the center and they call it ‘worship in the round’ where everyone sits in a circle and you can see each other. It’ll be another experience of discovering new practices to encounter the Lord’s presence.”
On Wednesday, there will be a prayer labyrinth experience at 5 p.m. located east of York Performance Hall. The prayer labyrinth was just dedicated during Homecoming weekend. People will be there to give some training on what it is and how to use it, and then students will have the opportunity to actually walk through and experience it.
Following the experience on Wednesday evening, there will be all-hall worship nights in Morrison, Martin, Dunn and Smith Halls.
There will also be two more prayer labyrinth experiences on Thursday at noon and Friday at 4 p.m.
Throughout Spiritual Emphasis Week, the prayer room, located in the bottom of the Morrison House, will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to midnight.
Shelton said that there will also be a prayer focus and reflective thought for each day of the week that will be sent out through RavenMail or the Raven Life app.
“Spiritual Emphasis Week traditionally has been a time where we set aside some additional time to reflect on how God is leading us spiritually and to focus on growth,” Shelton said.
The fall spiritual retreat will take place on Oct. 27 and 28. It will focus on a similar theme, “flourishing in rest and relationship.” Students can still sign up for the retreat in the CAB office.