The worship options for Southern students just got a little bit wider as Merge has been
added to the list of places where students can spend their Sabbath in worship and fellowship.
This vibrant worship experience is not a new venture, but has been part of the campus for two years. However, this year the student-run service is being acknowledged as an additional service offered by the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists.
The student-led worship experience is what draws the interest and attendance according to Michaela Lewin, Merge worship participant.
“It makes us want to go to Merge and gives us something to be apart of because not everyone is going to fit into Student Missions or even the University Church,” Lewin said. “It provides an extra place where their niche is.”
For Merge to be considered an individual service and a part of the campus church is a major step for the student congregation; According to Lewin, it is a step that validates their leadership and investment in their faith.
Merge worship provides many opportunities for spiritual growth as attendance continues to climb with the congregation beginning at 30 to now almost 300 people. Having the service officially recognized means that the students also have a place to pay regular tithe and the opportunity to expand their reach on campus.
Merge service also holds many opportunities for theology students. Reginald Horton, adjunct professor in the School of Religion, was hired at the official Collegiate and Merge pastor by the Collegedale Church, but Horton is more than willing to share the pulpit. He actively encourages the students to take over, which provides theology students a chance to practice their preaching in an environment shared with their peers.
“If Merge was a stand-alone church, theology majors would be able to extern through the School of Religion, allowing [them] to become more diverse in [their] church knowledge.” Bryan Arvelo, theology junior, said.
Southern students like Lyndie Bredy shared that the draw to Merge is because it is a worship service like no other, which creates a space where students are given a chance to invest and thrive within an environment made by them and for them.
“For Merge to be a stand alone church just proves how great God is,” Bredy said. “We are so grateful to be able to take Merge to the next level, and take advantage of every opportunity.”