KOKOMO, Ind. – As the lights dim in Kresge Auditorium, two students step into the spotlight — Ben Hutto with his guitar in hand, Clayton Castleberry with a microphone. With piano accompaniment, and words projected on the screen behind them, they begin to sing Hillsong’s Cornerstone, inviting the small crowd to stand and join in.
While it may appear to be another of the campus’s many musical performances, it’s actually something you might not expect to find at a public university — it’s a chapel service, planned and run by students.
“College is kind of a tipping point, a time when you can lose connection with your faith,” said Castleberry, one of the music leaders. “If you lose that connection, it can impact the rest of your life. This helps us take our faith forward in the next phase of our lives.”
Members of the Light & Truth Campus Ministries student organization plan and lead the monthly hour-long service, which includes prayer, a message addressing issues students face, and contemporary worship music.
“As college students, we can be very busy, so having a service on campus where we spend so much time is not only convenient, it’s encouraging,” said Castleberry, from Kokomo. “Students appreciate having on-campus access to things they find important.”
Brenna Taitano attends for the chance to be among peers with beliefs similar to her own.
“It’s nice to have a network,” she said. “It’s good to find people with the same faith and values, especially when they are close to your age. Because of that, the message can be specifically written for us, which makes it more relevant than what we might get somewhere else.”
An experience geared toward college students is what makes it different from church, said Hutto, the student organization’s president. They often pair a campus or community leader with a student to share the message, which allows those attending to hear the perspective of a peer, and also an adult who has incorporated faith into his or her daily life.
At this particular service, Joe Toren, the group’s spiritual advisor, continued a series exploring relationships — with God, others, self, and the world.
He talked about how college students often find their worth in accomplishments and accolades, and struggle when they don’t have those things, and encouraged students to instead find their value in knowing that God created each person in his image, and redeemed them from sin with his son.
“Your worth comes from a great God, who made each of us,” he said. “For some reason, a loving God thought you were important enough to put here.”
Toren is on campus as part of a partnership between Kokomo’s First Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the Coalition for Campus Outreach (CCO), a national organization that works with local churches in a mission for students to hear the gospel, connect with a local church, and gain a vision for their lives.
Chapel services are open to anyone who wants to attend, and Castleberry noted there’s no pressure to participate in any of the group’s other activities.
“We want people to come, and we want them to have a faith-growing experience,” he said. “We want them to have this opportunity to attend a worship service, and build a community of friends.”
The next chapel is at noon Wednesday, November 20, in Kresge Auditorium.
In addition to Chapel, Light & Truth members host two weekly small groups, with student-led Bible studies and fellowship. For more information, contact Hutto at email@example.com. Information is also available at iuklife.iuk.edu.
Indiana University Kokomo celebrates 75 years as north central Indiana’s choice for higher education.