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Revival at Kentucky college faces hurdles from school leaders

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Students at a Kentucky college who tried to organize a revival worship service in the wake of the Asbury University revival found themselves at odds with school officials over meeting rules.

A group of 15 students began holding a gathering at the campus of Union College of Barbourville last Friday, with their impromptu worship soon swelling to around 150 students.

As the meeting was began, according to Fox 56 in Lexington, faculty informed the students that they could not hold the gathering at the school student center.

When the gathering grew considerably and began to include non-students, officials said they could hold the service at the student center, provided they did not include non-students.

The organizers of the revival event declined these terms by Union leadership and decided to move their worship off campus to the local streets instead.

One unnamed student interviewed by Fox 56 explained that school officials “just kept harping about a process” and said meeting organizers were not “even aware before any of this that there even was a process.”

“We knew there was a process for starting clubs and such, but in our eyes, we didn’t see this as any different as 10 to 15 of us going to the library to study,” said the student.

Another student who talked with Fox 56 said those at the gathering “definitely would like to continue something like this on campus,” adding that they have “talked about maybe starting a club, one where we can do something like worship once a week or gather together and pray.”

For its part, Union President Marcia Hawkins released a statement last Friday in which she explained that the college “is committed to providing a welcoming for all, regardless of religious affiliation or belief.”

“All proposals for ministry or religious work on campus are accepted by the Office of Spiritual Life,” stated Hawkins. “It is this office, under the direction of our campus minister, that reviews requests to determine how we can support the activity, whether with materials, signage, space, advertising, or other resources.”

Regarding last week’s worship gathering, Hawkins explained that “students were advised to visit the campus minister to let him know what they were hoping to do.”

“They were advised of the process to follow by both the Dean of Students and the College President, and both volunteered to go with the students to meet with the campus minister,” she continued.

“The students chose not to follow the advice.”

Founded in 1879, Union College is presently affiliated with The United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

Earlier in February, students at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, began to hold spontaneous and continuous worship at their campus after a scheduled chapel service had concluded.

The Asbury revival event, which eventually saw thousands of attendees, including many non-students and people from around the world, has garnered international attention and led to similar gatherings at other schools and churches nationwide.  

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