Many cultures ‘give thanks’ at service

Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, left, and junior Eneti Tagaloa, right, read Psalm 136 in Spanish and Samoan.

Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, left, and junior Eneti Tagaloa, right, read Psalm 136 in Spanish and Samoan.

When students walked into First Free Methodist Church on Tuesday for the Multicultural Night of Worship, they were handed a small rock with a letter written on it.

When they walked into the sanctuary, students saw an art piece placed in the front. The piece featured a branch with little lights and a sign that read, “Give Thanks.”

The first Multicultural Night of Worship of the year was ironically held yesterday morning at 11 a.m.

The event, which filled almost all the pews at First Free Methodist, was hosted by Catalyst, a club focused on diversity, and Gather, SPU’s chapel team.

At the end of the service, the congregation was told the letters on the rocks would match up with nine others to form the words “Give Thanks.” Each pebble was different — a different color, a different size, a different shape. This signified diversity in God’s creation.

The service was made up of a variety of worship styles and languages from different cultures built around chapter 136 of Psalms.

It included a video on thankfulness, a Hawaiian worship song and dance, a mime-praise dance, the song “How Great is Our God” in five different languages, and a final reading of Psalm 136 in four different languages.

For the last verse of the Psalm, everyone was invited to say it out loud in any language they wanted, with several displayed on a projection screen.

“I wanted to make sure that during the service, the center and focus would be on God, especially through the various worship forms that people might have been new to,” said junior Zyra Layaoen, ministry programmer for Catalyst, who helped organize the event.

“I hope that during this time, the Holy Spirit would move people and open perspectives to these different ways to worship,” Layaoen said.

Layaoen said she wanted people attending the event to focus on how God loves them in their daily lives.

Junior Kathryn Ushimaru said she attends the Multicultural Night of Worship every quarter.

“It reminds me of events that were at my diverse high school,” she said.

Ushimaru said the After Choir Flava’ dance was her favorite part of the worship event.

The dance was a mime-praise dance performed by five female students wearing long black skirts, white gloves, and each wearing a different-colored long-sleeve shirt including pink, green, blue, red and black.

The group started the act from the back of the sanctuary, dancing and clapping its way up the aisles.

Two of the dancers came in on each of the side aisles, and one came down the middle. They ended their dance in the same way.

Junior Jonathan Holmes, who plays drums for Gather services, said singing “How Great is our God” was his favorite part of the service. People sang the song’s chorus in different languages.

“We called it ‘world edition’ because it combined different languages in the song,” Layaoen said. “And we also had Ohana o Hawaii and After Choir Flava’ dancing together to this song.Talk about intercultural. And I liked the fact that the congregation was standing and worshipping loudly.”

Layaoen said Catalyst decided to hold the multicultural service on Tuesday, instead of its traditional Sunday night, in hopes that more people who aren’t on campus Sunday nights could attend.

Holmes said he prefers holding the service on Tuesday morning because it allows for more people to attend.

“Having it on Tuesday morning gives more of a chance of the whole SPU community to participate and attend the service,” he said.

Zawadi Morrow, minister of worship and production and a member of the Gather worship team, said he appreciated that different students came to the multicultural event who don’t normally attend Gather.

“There’s something vulnerable about putting yourself in the shoes of someone’s culture,” Morrow said. “It’s uncomfortable. But it’s a cool and good thing to understand each other more deeply and Seattle is a great city for that because it’s very diverse.”

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