It’s Sunday night at 8:30, and a band is playing in Martin Chapel. A room full of college students sings along as a pianist and guitarist carry the tune. A projector shows PowerPoint slides with praise song lyrics and two band members stand at microphones passionately singing the lyrics to songs like “Mighty to Save” and “Blessed be Your Name.” The musicians, songs, and music styles change with the week, as do the faces of the people attending these weekly worship services called Celebration.
Celebration has not always been this vibrant. In recent years Celebration experienced a drop in attendance. Sophomore Alyssa Cable, a regular Celebration participant and worship team member, says that last year was pretty lean. “Attendance definitely dropped last year, there was a pretty tight group of 15 to 20, but this year attendance has really rebounded. We’ve had over 50 people attend the worship service every Sunday this year.”
Although Celebration members do not know exactly what is causing the rise in attendance, they do know that there is a definite feeling of excitement this year. Cable attributes much of this energy to incoming freshmen, “A ton of freshmen came in and they play a bunch of different instruments.” A new group of people are capable of bring new ideas to Celebration. Sophomore Phil Yoder, one of Celebrations organizers, agrees with the sense of renewed energy, but emphasizes the role that returning students have played in Celebration’s resurgence. “Alyssa [Cable] and I are both sophomores, and a lot of my friends have gotten involved this year, and I think that we have a good mix of underclassmen and upperclassmen.”
Kelly Schroder is in her final year at EMU, and has been actively involved in Celebration since her first year at EMU. Shroder noted the dwindling attendance during her sophomore and junior years, but when asked about attendance, Shroder said, “We don’t really worry about attendance because we feel that we have a higher purpose.”
Even though attendance is not Shroder’s primary concern, she is happy to see an increase in attendance this year, with many new members eager to get involved. Like the other members of Celebration, Shroder is quick to mention the increased energy that the meetings have this year, and she attributes some of this to the change in the service’s format this year. “We went back to four teams who play three weeks a semester, as opposed to one team that plays most services.”
This format allows for the involvement of more students and ties them to the celebration services with a commitment to come back and a solid reason to stay involved and create community.
Whatever the reason for Celebration’s resurgence, it has its members excited. In the words of Phil Yoder, “There is a renewed sense of excitement and energy. A new year, a new chance to praise the Lord.” For Celebration, this year promises to be the most exciting and energetic in a long time.
David Yoder, Opinion Editor