celebrate

For students looking for a way to both connect with their faith and fellow students, Celebrate! may be a great opportunity. Celebrate! is a contemporary worship held inside the Chapel of the Resurrection (outside when weather permits) every Wednesday at 10 p.m.

“It's just a great space to reflect and love on Jesus,” said Celebrate! producer Ashlee Will.

Celebrate! mainly consists of three different activities; Communion, a sermon and music. The sermon and readings are presided by Pastor Jim Wetzstein, who “really hones into the mind of a college student,” Will said.

“It’s a reading from the Bible every week, usually one of the four gospels, but I always tailor my message, as does Deaconess Kristin when she preaches at Candlelight on Sunday nights, to a student life,” Wetzstein said. “I’m very interested in how the message of the gospel of God’s love and grace for us is relevant to student lives and student pressures, the rhythm of the semester, the kinds of experiences that people from age 18 to 22 are having - their social life, their intellectual life and their spiritual life. I’m speaking to that group.”

The music consists of a seven to eight song set. Three different, student-run bands rotate by week, and each has their own distinctive style. Praise Band Music Coordinator Jen Perkne, who also runs and plays in one of the bands, calls it a sort of “modern worship music.”

“A lot of people like to compare it to a rock band service or a pop band service,” Perkne said. “You have a drummer and an electric guitar and keys, so it’s like music you’d hear on the radio, except it’s all about God.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been changes made to the event. The event is now held outside the chapel, with a cap of 150 attendees. During the winter months, the event will be held inside, with a cap of 100. Masks and social distancing will be required, and singing will not be permitted. Pastor Wetzstein said that there are also changes made to how Communion is conducted. 

“We’ve changed the way we distribute the bread and wine at Communion, so I’m masked and gloved and using tongs for the bread and then we’ve got a student MC who helps do the wine in sanitized cups,” Wetzstein said. “So there’s no contact between people who are passing out and who are receiving.”

Despite the changes, those involved hope that Celebrate! will remain a great service that is accessible to all, even to those not of the Christian faith. 

“I would say that the liturgy tends to be geared more towards a Christian faith, and the songs are Christian-based, but everyone is welcome, everyone can connect to the sermons, everyone can connect to even the music and the readings,” Will said.

There are a number of volunteer positions for Celebrate! and the other chapel services if students want to get more involved. These include producer, worship music coordinator, social media coordinator, projectionists and sound Technicians. There is also a weekly MC who leads the service in prayer. To reach out, students can contact celebrate@valpo.edu or chapel@valpo.edu

Due to the limited amount of students allowed, everyone wanting to attend must reserve a ticket. This can be done through Valpo Celebrate!’s Facebook page. For those unable to attend, a livestream via Facebook Live is available.

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