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Recap of Renewal Week: PLNU Engaging Students with “Questions”

Interactive Renewal Week Display on Caf Lane. Photo Credit to Charis Johnston.

Deirdre Brower-Latz, principal of Nazarene Theological College in Manchester, England, visited campus to lead the Point Loma Nazarene University community through Spiritual Renewal Week from Jan. 29 through Feb. 2. It was a time for the entire PLNU community to lean in, talk about God, ask questions about faith and find a sense of renewal. The chapels throughout the week focused on this year’s theme: “Questions.” 

Seven events were held in addition to the three regular chapels that are held each week, including morning prayers, family meals, interactive art, a created space, prayer and yoga, a morning hike and a Q&A with Brower-Latz. The events were planned by chapel interns, PLNU’s Associated Student Body (ASB) and the university’s chapel team. 

Chapel Programming Assistant Hadley Halbert took part in planning renewal week, where she oversaw “small details like making sure all the art supplies get to the interactive art station and that there is someone operating it, that all the students get to their Family Meals and the hosts know what they are doing, that the Prayer and Yoga has audio equipment, that the Q&A has questions and avenues for students to send questions.” 

Halbert also makes sure interns are assigned a job and “have a creative space to be able to dream up events too.”

Chapel interns work directly under the chaplain and the chaplain’s assistant. This week, they helped out at events, pitched event ideas and were there when needed, according to chapel intern Adley Van Soest. 

“I got to pitch an event idea with the spiritual life director and so the Q&A that happened was actually our event,” said Van Soest. “That is kind of an exciting thing for students to get to run and lead. We decided to collaborate with ASB on it to get some student voices heard there because we thought student-led would be a really great way for people to get involved.” 

The Q&A was a discussion between Brower-Latz and ASB President Nate Shoup and was hosted in the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) on Wednesday night. Throughout the week there was a QR code posted in chapels and on posters for students to submit their questions. The Q&A was also opened up to the floor at the end of the event for students to ask any remaining questions. 

The theme of this year’s renewal week, “Questions,” inspired the Q&A event and was picked by Brower-Latz. She was out on a walk with her dog when she started asking God questions about this upcoming week and the theme for the week. This got her thinking about the questions that God asks us and how they could relate to the PLNU community. 

“God asks questions all the time. I felt like some of the questions were really logical for people wrestling with life and I guess my assumption is that if you are between the years of like 17 and 30 you’re asking big questions,” said Brower-Latz.

Spiritual Renewal Week was not just about the planning that went into it but also the experience for individuals and the community as a whole. 

“I feel like I get just as much out of renewal week as I would have if I wasn’t working at some of these events,” said Van Soest. “Honestly morning prayers have been my favorite, it has been really nice to start my day sitting in the presence of god, which is not something I am always inclined to do first thing in the morning. And so, setting aside that time has been great and has reminded me of how much more often I want to be doing this from here on out. It has also been great to see everybody wide awake in the morning and see everyone super excited to learn and grow.”

Brower-Latz hopes she leaves students at the end of the week, feeling like they have encountered God and heard deeper questions that resonate with them, allowing them to dig deeper. 

“For myself, I think when living in quite a troubled world, generally speaking, I’d really like to go away with a sense of hope that these students could be part of the transformation and that, you know, with that many people you can dramatically touch lives for good. And so, I sort of hope I go away quite hopefully. I think I will because everybody I have met so far, I think, there is so much possibility here for unleashing goodness,” said Brower-Latz.

“The most fun part of it is both hearing and seeing how students are engaging! We love seeing your pictures at Family Meals, chatting with you at the Interactive Art Station, seeing you chat with Deirdre after chapel … It warms our hearts to see hard work playing out in a way that is meaningful to so many students. It’s what we live to do, and I know I speak for the entire Chapel Planning Team when I say this… we are truly so grateful to do it,” said Halbert.

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