King's sees resurgence of spiritual life this semester
Financial District, NEW YORK - King's has entered a new era of spiritual life involvement, according to Dean of Students David Leedy. “We are seeing a resurgence of spiritual life on campus,” he said. Students are attending church and House Bible studies more regularly. Dozens of students, faculty and staff participated in a school-wide day of prayer and fasting. Professors begin classes by reading devotionals from the King’s Liturgy.
The new bimonthly worship event "Refuge" boasts consistent attendance of more than 100 students. President Thornbury’s involvement in Fall Retreat and Refuge has also boosted the school's spiritual momentum this year.
Reflecting on the 2012-13 school year, it was clearly a different story. Dean Leedy called spiritual life “severely lacking” and “haphazard.” Church and House Bible study attendance was underwhelming. Many Houses forewent organized bible studies altogether due to lack of participation or otherwise.
Lunchtime prayer rooms were almost always empty. Student organizations such as the Tent and the Spiritual Life Project (now Refuge) struggled to gain attendance, often with fewer than 10 students at their weekly meetings.
Student Body President Peter Flemming (‘14) explained that last year, “there wasn’t as much of a purpose in the student body. . . we lacked the critical mass necessary to gain momentum.”
What was it that made spiritual life last year so sub-par? A variety of factors contributed. Dean Leedy and Flemming agreed that the loss of the director of Spiritual Life, Ray East, caused significant damage. Leedy added that the move to a new campus, the chaos of Hurricane Sandy and the loss of our College President “caused major disruption” for the college.
This year, students receive weekly emails with scriptures and devotionals meant to provide a spiritual theme or reference point for the week. One of the weekly emails explained that the liturgy “defines our experience together as a Christian community. It outlines the rhythms we celebrate with the church at large: scripture readings, Sabbath habits, and celebration of holy days and historical events.”
As was previously mentioned, some professors use the King’s Liturgy as a devotional to start classes. King's Student Development team begins each of their meetings with it. The liturgy has been a unique addition to the flow of a week at King’s and “has brought our community together in ways nothing ever has,” Leedy said.
Another important change affecting spiritual life this year has been the heavy involvement of the faculty and staff. Under the leadership of Vice President of Student Development Eric Bennett, faculty and staff--from the professors to the financial office--have participated in all aspects of the spiritual life at King’s. Seeing professors attending events like Refuge and writing for the liturgy has encouraged many students to participate as well.
Looking to next year, Leedy said, “I think the foundation is being laid this year. But we’re still in our infancy. We’re learning to walk; last year we were barely even crawling."
Flemming hopes to see even more spiritual life activities and involvement in the Houses and movement towards “cross-denominational conversations.” With a diverse spectrum of denominations here at King’s, Flemming would like to see each student feel comfortable and empowered as part of the college's culture of Christian worship.