On the night of Wednesday, Feb. 15, the sounds of students’ voices elevated in reverence for God resonated from Samford’s Reid Chapel. Over the course of the following days, students and community members flocked to the chapel to partake in the days-long worship session that has now been labeled as a revival. The chapel doors remained open at all hours, and one peek inside revealed hundreds of people with heads bowed in prayer and arms lifted in praise.
A week prior, an average chapel service at Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky. kicked off a communal worship session that never stopped. According to Fox News, over 50,000 people have traveled to the college from around the country to experience the revival that lasted for two weeks.
According to a statement from Asbury University President Kevin Brown, “there have been countless expressions and demonstrations of radical humility, compassion, confession, consecration and surrender unto God.”
Trace Griffin, a freshman at Asbury, attended his school’s chapel service on Wednesday, Feb. 8.
“I remember attending chapel on Feb. 8 like I would normally do,” Griffin said. “Throughout the day, however, I kept hearing that chapel was still going. It was something that I had never experienced before.”
Two days later, Griffin returned to Hughes Auditorium to witness what he’d been hearing about.
“When I eventually went, it was on Friday, Feb. 10 and it was an amazing experience,” Griffin said. “To be in an enclosed space with all the other students worshiping God was truly a moment to savor. I just remember standing in pure awe of what was going on around me.”
Asbury’s revival began to spread to high schools and college campuses around the country, Samford being one of them. According to Samford freshman Nate Bass, a group of students had planned to gather for prayer in Reid Chapel on the night of Wednesday, Feb. 15, and another group had planned to go worship. Without coordinating, the two groups showed up at the same time and began worshipping and praying together. Eventually, they texted their friends to join and word spread across campus from there.
According to senior Caroline Bass, around 150 students had gathered by the wee hours of the night. By the next day, more students joined in the worship, as well as campus staff, faculty and administration members. In an email to the Samford community on Friday, Feb. 17, President Beck Taylor addressed the revival, tying it into Samford’s theme of “hope” for the 2023 year.
“Having spent some time yesterday with those worshipping in Reid Chapel, I can testify that the Holy Spirit is at work in and among our student body,” Taylor wrote.
In a similar email, Samford’s campus pastor, Bobby Gatlin, shared that the Holy Spirit had led several students to give their lives to Christ during the revival services, and many more repented of sins, shared their testimonies and led the crowd in worship.
Caroline Bass said she felt especially impacted by the way younger students, mostly freshmen and sophomores, stepped up to lead the worship.
“I think most people who have participated and led are freshmen and sophomores, which I think is really wonderful because it just signifies that the Lord is working in the younger generations at Samford,” Caroline Bass said. “They’re going to be on campus for longer, and I think that’ll just help our spiritual life on campus so much and help people get connected to churches and just be called out of lukewarmness.”
Freshman Kathryn Kipley was among those who attended the worship service that first night.
“The Lord is moving in a way we’ve never seen,” Kipley said. “What an honor it is to watch His plan unfold!”
Both Caroline Bass and sophomore Gabi Young spoke about the community aspect of the revival. Bass said that it was incredible to watch people from all over campus pray together, weep together, rejoice together and worship together; Young agreed.
“It has been beautiful being able to worship with my peers, as well as hear their testimonies, with them being openly honest about their struggles,” Young said. “It has made me feel closer to them and even closer to the Lord.”
Students in attendance at the revival over the last week reported feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit in the sacred space. The movement has even affected people outside of Samford, as it attracted many members of the Birmingham community.
“The emotions in that chapel were truly amazing, and God is visibly there,” said freshman Wryeton Giddens. “Not only has the revival touched Samford students but the outside community also.”
Although the continuous revival movement has slowed down, students continue to gather in Reid Chapel sporadically to worship and pray in Christ-centered community.
Caroline Bass shared her hopes for the revival movement that is sweeping Samford and other college campuses.
“The hope is that this doesn’t stay in Reid Chapel,” Caroline Bass said. “The hope is that the revival will change people’s hearts and that they’ll then go out and share the good news with their neighbors.”