University of Washington: Red Square rally strives for Christian unity
University of Washington, Seattle, WA - Everyone had his or her reasons for being there.
Stephanie Yeazell said she attended because “the Lord rescued me and changed my life.”
Karen Avery-Phelps came for “the content of the message and to provide support.”
And Jerome Blue showed up simply because he believes in Jesus.
These three people, along with an estimated 2,000 others, took part in the Jesus Christ Is Lord rally on Friday evening in Red Square, a gathering aimed at unifying more than 30 Christian campus ministries.
Ryan Beattie is with the UW Jesus Christ is Lord organization, which put on the function. He said he hoped the event would produce a neutral rallying point for all Christian organizations, a place where perceived differences could be set aside.
As a soft sprinkle of rain fell upon them, large clusters of people circled in prayer before the official start of the rally.
Richard Thomas, a former Husky football fullback, got the event rolling at 6 p.m. by delivering an energized speech that showed the excitement he feels from Jesus being part of his life.
Thomas' opening was followed by religious songs, led by a band on the front steps of Suzzallo Library. The music was carried by 14 loudspeakers echoing across Red Square.
Numerous individuals associated with the organization testified in front of the large audience about the effect Christ has on their lives.
Some told how Jesus helped them heal broken family relationships, while others revealed how their attachment to God has kept them from engaging in continuous acts of sin.
Alcohol abuse, marijuana smoking and an absence of faith in Jesus were some examples of sinful practices cited by those that took center stage.
The evening was capped off at 7:45 p.m. with a communal singing of “Amazing Grace” and an optional prayer session held at the base of the library steps.
Beattie was very pleased with how everything unfolded.
The rally “exceeded all expectations,” he said.
A pamphlet passed out at the gathering said the Jesus Christ is Lord organization is focused on unity, prayer, reconciliation and revival.
Since the group's inception more than six months ago, leaders have seen steady growth and increased support for the integrative Christian cause it promotes.
Beattie said, “This event is the pinnacle for what has gone on so far this year.”
But he believes it's only a preview of things to come from the UW Christian community.
“The vision of the group is not to pull people away from their own ministries, but rather to develop a 'living net' among Christians,” he said.
Although a relatively new organization, Jesus Christ Is Lord has expanded from a handful of people to an assemblage that is composed of “students from virtually every campus ministry group,” according to Beattie.
Those that subscribe to the group's beliefs emphasize unity under the common banner of Jesus Christ as a way of overcoming the theological differences or individual preferences that exist within the Christian community.
There has been no real opposition to what the organization is trying to accomplish, according to group member Kristofer Gray. He said that people view the group's objective of unity as a very noble pursuit, not as hypocritical.
“It's not an us-and-them situation,” Gray said. “Christians are not better than anyone else; they are just forgiven.”
One practice started by Gray is a half-hour prayer session from 12:30-1 p.m. everyday in Red Square.
Gray said it began so that “Christians of all denominations could pray for unity and love between students on campus.”
What is next for Jesus Christ Is Lord?
According to Gray, the organization will go where the “spirit” moves them.
He said, “We are student-oriented and governed, but we're spirit led.”
Future events could come in the forms of more rallies, but they are certain that the quest for Christian unity will continue.