"The service is a time to take out of my night of study to be calm and be in a place with other people that isn't focused on school," Emily Wiklund '08 said. "It's a chance to get away from all of the stresses."
The Holden Evening Services are modeled after a service practiced at the Holden Village Ecumenical Christian Retreat Center in Washington state and last about 30 minutes. Each service consists of a service of light, service of the word (also known as the reading of Scripture) and Holy Communion.
A great deal of the service is centered on music and the singing of hymns and psalms. This musical aspect is a draw for many, including Sarah Ring '11.
"I'm sitting here surrounded by people that I adore and such gorgeous, gorgeous music," she said. "The service brought me a sense of peace. I felt like this is where I'm supposed to be, with these people in this place."
But that's not the only aspect that draws students to the services. Clayton Smith '10 said that while he also likes the music, the atmosphere is very enjoyable. "It feels a lot more relaxed and personal [than a regular church service]," he said. "It's very centering; it's just such a crazy time with the new semester, the service is a way to be focused."
Another part of the service that student congregation co-vice president of worship John Schwehn '08 feels is important is the prayer section, where the pastors bring up prayers for parts of the world in need. "The prayers give us an opportunity to think about the global issues that are happening and gives us a chance to pray about them," Schwehn said.
The Holden Services are organized by Schwehn and Peter Schattauer '08, who serve together as student congregation's co-vice presidents of worship. Schattauer said that these services draw around 10 times as many people as the regular Wednesday evening Vesper services that take place during the rest of the year.
He credits some of this trend to tradition. "I think that the season of Lent is when a lot of Christians are looking to reflect on their faith life and await the crucifixion and the resurrection. With Vespers we're trying to provide a space where students can reflect on their faith during this Lent Season," he said.
Whatever the draw for the 100 some students who attended the service Wednesday night, many left with the intent to return again the next week. "This was my first time coming to a service, I plan on coming from now on," Ring said.
The services will continue on Wednesday nights at 10pm in Boe Chapel until the last Wednesday before the Easter holiday, March 19.