New church services takes different approach to worship

Marlene Brueggemann

Marcus Evans’ message was simple.

Hope in man is subject to the possibility of disappointment – therefore, hope in God.

Evans, a junior from Newton, Miss., brought the message across skillfully, rapping a song he wrote last summer to about 30 students who attended the “New Generation” church service on Sunday morning in Downing University Center Theater.

The song, based on Jeremiah 17:5, served as the praise selection during the group’s second meeting.

The church service meets at 10 a.m. in DUC Theater and is open to all students. It is sponsored by Helping Young People Endure, or HYPE.

But not only the praise selection was different on Sunday. There was lots of music, no strict doctrinal structure and an informal, relaxed tone that could not be more different from many traditional church services.

Campbellsville junior Michelle Penick has been involved with HYPE since her freshman year and leads the choir that performs at the services.

“This is just a different spin on what God had already put in place,” she said. “It’s for the new generation, it is for the college students that usually don’t go to church, the unsaved.”

She said the service is “outside of the norm.”

“Some are shocked, because some of the things that we do are not traditional,” said HYPE founder Derrick White, who leads the services.

White said there are many issues that college students face that need to be addressed, and he plans to talk about them.

“We’re in 2004,” White said. “We’ve got to be diverse and upgrade to what the world is dealing with.”

This is one of the aspects of the New Generation church that appeals to Frankfort junior Scott Ashburn.

“A lot of churches I have been to, they seem to hold back a lot of things,” Ashburn said. “They don’t seem to touch the actual social ills that young people face today.”

But the problem may work both ways.

“This area, with the youth on campus and in the community, is lacking spirituality,” White said.

People understand the structure of religion, but do not have a relationship with God, he said.

White said he wants students to realize that they are more than they are allowing themselves to be and to form a relationship with God.

“What I want to achieve is that this nation sees that Christ is still alive through his believers,” White said.

Ashburn said that he feels very comfortable in the new church and enjoys that his peers are open enough to comment on his actions.

“I like it that they check me,” he said. “We keep each other on point as much as we can.”

Founded by White in 1999, HYPE started out as primarily an African-American ministry. White led the ministry but then moved to Evansville, Ind., in 2000, where he became licensed as a minister at the Nazarene Missionary Baptist church in Evansville.

But God called him back to the Bowling Green area in February 2003, White said.

“I think that it is inspiring to see young people that are making themselves available and that students are serious about Christ,” White said.

Reach Marlene Bruggemann at [email protected].