As Pastor Rob Parker closes his sermon on a Tuesday morning in late January, he invites students to stay for worship and more than half of the student body responds to the invitation. A day later, the same students stand mesmerized, as Pastor Richard Jones Sr. parades around the auditorium preaching for people to love and accept one another. Later in the week, religious scholars and students alike take the stage, answering questions and telling their personal testimonies about their journey with Christ. These scenes, and many others equally as impactful as them, were part of the revamped Spiritual Emphasis Week at Eastern Christian High School.
Spiritual Emphasis Week is not new to ECHS, but this year’s rendition of it was something far greater than anything done in years past and is an example of a revival of faith at ECHS.
Though Spiritual Emphasis Week has been a part of ECHS, before the taking over of Project Focus as the event planners was a change immediately seen by the community. Principal Intelkofer talks about his contribution to the week as, “Getting out of the way so awesomeness could happen. I approved the date and said go with God and they [Project Focus] did everything.”
Everything that was seen during the week was planned by students and, though speakers like Pastor Jones and Pastor Parker were adults, the student testimonies and prayers both Friday during chapel and during the worship night that Friday were even done by students. This openness of praise from students allowed for the spiritual movement that was to come. As Project Focus member Will Critchfield puts it, “It was really cool in chapels to see people openly moved without embarrassment and to see everybody worship in the ways they were comfortable with. So people who wanted to express their faith differently could and the student participation in both planning and participating across the board.”
With spiritual movements like this one, there is an expected amount of student’s faith being improved, but this week came with a more vibrant revival of faith than could have been anticipated. Project Focus member Maria Nabih says “I heard many people talk about stepping out of their comfort zone, praying for others and having a newfound motivation to incorporate God into their everyday lives.” Will also adds to this, saying, “I think a lot of people were really encouraged by it and being able to mend their relationships with God.”
This openness with others about God is always the goal of Spiritual Emphasis Week but it will always impact some more than others. Mr. I said, “I’ve talked with some students and a teacher leader of Project Focus and they all agreed this is something we should do every year. There were at least two people who said they accepted Christ for the first time that week.”
Though the event itself was considered an overwhelming success by the majority of the community, there is always the question of, “Where do we go from here.” Everybody who attended the events approached the aftermath in different ways, however, there was a trend from students and administrators to keep the momentum going. Maria says that “I think the school should strengthen and build its community based on our foundation and emphasize that our community is built and based around God working and changing the lives of many and bringing them together.”
This idea is widespread throughout the school, but there is trouble pointing out specific areas where the school should go from here. Part of this is because students react in their own way to events, as well as it being very soon after the week to decide exactly what the school should be doing. Mr I. even adds that, “After any spiritual or emotional high there is a challenge to sustain that growth and that’s what we’re working on now from Project Focus. We don’t want to send the message that following God is going from big event to big event, but more about the daily walk with Christ. We want to increase our partnership with the churches and parents.”
Spiritual Emphasis Week at ECHS took a huge step forward this year and has set the stage for years to come to inspire even more spiritual revival. As Mr. I put it, “I’ve been really blessed to see the excitement about growing spiritually and I think this year has been different than the last two as it has been and the community is getting more behind this type of event and prayer and it has been exciting to see.”