By Johannah Huber, COM 250 Reporter
Edited by Alana George, COM 303 Editor
MOUNT BERRY, Ga.—Common Worship (CW) is one of the available religious groups on Berry College’s campus that aims to give any student a community to glorify God.
Common Worship began as a Gate of Opportunity Scholarship event in the summer of 2017, and it has now become a religious student interest group on campus.
Senior Ben Walker has been one of the leadership team members from the very beginning, and recalled how Common Worship became his favorite activity on campus.
“It’s simple. Real. It’s not a show,” Walker said. “This is so pure and authentic and beautiful, and I felt like it needed to keep going on campus.”
Walker and the rest of the leadership team have attempted to set up the Common Worship gatherings to reflect that simplicity and authenticity. The simple structure is made of lights, a guitarist, a singer, a crowd of voices, and a banner that reads “I am trusting God with…” where students have filled out various answers in response.
According to Walker, the gatherings are intended to be a place where people can come without a facade. He wants them to be a place where people can feel welcome and bring all the troubles and triumphs of everyday life with them.
Blake Dean, another senior on the leadership team, believes that the ministry aids in students’ spiritual formation.
“It provides a casual environment that creates community, simplicity, and rest,” Dean said. “We are not intending to be a church replacement but rather be a place where students can be led simply and by other students.”
Jonathan Parker, an assistant religion professor at Berry and the group’s faculty advisor, believes that Common Worship is more of an experiment, one that exists due to Berry’s interest group model. Interest groups are not tied down by specific duties that are asked of other official groups on campus, and they receive no funding or other aid from Berry.
“Having these interest groups is a strategic and helpful thing so students are allowed and able to try different leadership opportunities,” Parker said.
He noted how he has seen students benefit from Common Worship, and how the leadership team has attempted to cultivate a place for people from across different fellowship groups.
“There is an authenticity to it that has a lot of student support and it’s really sweet to see students supporting and loving each other,” Parker said.
For the average busy Berry student, an activity like Common Worship can likely be seen as another thing added on, and difficult to make time for. However, one leadership team member proves that students can make time for things that fill their soul as well as their mind.
Bethany Ritter is a sophomore on the leadership team, and balances honors requirements, dance troupe, undergrad research, WinShape, work and classes. Common Worship has become a place of rest for her during such a busy schedule.
“Common Worship has become a way for me to worship the Lord in a bunch of different ways in one ministry,” Ritter said.
At its core, what the group offers to students can be found in the official purpose statement, which is as follows: “Common Worship exists to authentically shepherd, celebrate, and worship with those who come with longing to be filled by the presence of God so that we can experience love simply: by encouraging community and rest.