As SPU’s Total Experience Gospel Choir sang the words “Just reach out and touch somebody’s hand, / Make this world a better place, yes we can,” the members of the choir walked off the altar to join hands with the guests.
Together they helped bridge the gap across the aisle of the First Free Methodist Church sanctuary.
ASSP’s Catalyst, the Intercultural Initiatives Committee at SPU, hosted this Multicultural Night of Worship on Tuesday, May 23, which featured scripture readings and a gospel choir, topped off with a dance ministry performance that included Caenisha Warren of The John Perkins Center.
The event was open to the entire SPU community.
“Tonight is just a little night to resend your voices that we maybe don’t hear sometimes,” said junior Benjamin Crook in the welcome statement.
The night’s theme was “The Power of the Body,” which began with the reading of Corinthians 12:14-26.
“Now if the foot would say because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body, that would not make it any less a part of the body,” said Emma Naden-Johns, reciting the beginning of the verse.
That verse was subsequently read four more times throughout the night, once in Tigrinya, then Japanese, then Russian and finally Korean.
Worship began with attendees standing to sing and clap along with the Total Experience Gospel Choir.
Through each of the songs soloists emerged from the line-up to great applause on the highest notes.
In addition to the gospel choir, Claudio Carrasco, a singer and guest to the SPU community, sang worship in Spanish, and junior Noa Kinimaka played worship in Hawaiian.
Carrasco pointed out that the words projected onto the screen above the sanctuary provided a way for audience members to sing along to the Spanish lyrics.
“Who knows, maybe his language is Spanish,” he said to laughs and applause from the audience. “It is not English.”
When asked what meaning this event had for them, students replied that they had been encouraged by the message of multicultural unity.
Sophomore nursing major Gaby Booth commented on community within the church.
“I think it’s a good symbol of community and embracing our differences in a way that brings us together rather than divides us,” she said. “It helps us embrace our differences in a way that brings us together and builds a stronger community where everyone can feel included.”
Junior Adriel Gama found it very special to hear his native language. Gama attended the Night of Worship for the first time and was reminded of his home.
“It was very special … ‘cause I mean I haven’t found a place like that where I can hear my own language being spoken,” he said. “I came from a real small Hispanic town, so everything was in Spanish, so when [Carrasco] was singing in Spanish it just felt like home.”
Outgoing ASSP President Lola Sosanya also commented on her experience saying she appreciated the opportunity to be present and take a pause.
“I mean, first and foremost it’s a worship service, and so I’m very grateful that, like other worship services on campus, it’s provided a space where we can just pause and reflect on the character of God and humanity and worshipping God,” she said. “And then I also came because of the multicultural aspect. I think it’s so important, especially for me as a person of color, to find spaces that also incorporate things of my upbringing. It was a very good healing moment within the day.”