The Gathering seeks to fulfill a past dream of Oklahoma Christian University students by providing an opportunity for students to be inspired to show God’s love daily.
Sophomore Jack Smith said the Gathering is an event branching from an idea presented by former Student Government Association president, Zekariah McNeal. McNeal planned to coordinate a gathering of schools from all over the state, however it did not work out for the event to occur last year.
Smith said he was a freshman looking to get involved on campus and took McNeal’s idea into account as he entered the role as chair of the SGA service committee this year.
“I really wanted to do the Gathering because I didn’t want to see Zekariah’s idea for the Gathering to fail and fall through the cracks,” Smith said. “I felt called to go ahead, plan it and make sure it happened.”
Smith said he has taken a different perspective from McNeal to create this year’s event.
“I’m not thinking as big as Zekariah was for the Gathering,” Smith said. “I’m thinking more inward, focusing towards the city of Edmond. This event is meant to unify the Christian church. It’s important to think about what we can do in our daily lives to glorify God’s love.”
The event begins March 24 with a pizza dinner in the McGraw Pavilion at 6 p.m. The meal will be followed by a worship service led by New Reign as well as a lesson given by junior Darion Dalton on the topic of God’s love.
“We hear sermons presenting a difficult-to-understand call to action often,” Smith said. “To take a command we are given in the Bible and act on it in our daily lives is a challenging thing to do. I want to be able to encourage and give people a way to do that very thing.”
The second half of the event begins at 8:20 a.m. March 25 with participants departing from the Williams-Branch Bible building and heading to Downtown Oklahoma City to serve at the Refuge until noon.
Smith said he chose to help at the Refuge after meeting the founder Tim Ulrich at the Go Retreat this past fall.
According to their website, the goal of the Refuge is to transform Downtown Oklahoma City one neighborhood at a time through renovations and “being Jesus” to the residents in those areas. The group will assist with inner city work from cleanup, painting, yard work and any restoration efforts assigned for the day.
“We need to step out and see what the real world is like beyond the OC bubble,” Smith said. “The real world is not what it is like here on campus. Here in Edmond, it is a suburban environment and you don’t see a lot of the problems.”
After a morning of serving, the group will reconvene for an evening worship service in Scott Chapel at 8 p.m.
“This time of worship is meant to be more intimate,” Smith said. “It is meant to be a time of reflection for the service conducted earlier that day and figuring out how to carry it into their daily lives in a smaller sense.”
Smith said he encourages students on the fence about attending the event to come and participate.
“I can’t describe what it’s going to be like exactly,” Smith said. “I can’t tell if it’s going to go how I planned it or if it’s going to change, anything can happen.”
The deadline to sign up to participate in the Gathering is March 23 at noon.