Students at the University of Indianapolis (UIndy) gathered for Monday Chapel in the Schwitzer Student Center and leveraged the opportunity to fellowship with Bishop Julius C. Trimble, express joys and concerns about being part of the student body, learn more about what is currently happening in the life of The United Methodist Church, and pray for the bishop in light of the impending Special-Called General Conference, to be held February 23-26 in St. Louis.
“Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” During the service, Bishop Trimble shared a hope-filled reflection from the book of Joshua, lined with anecdotes to empower the audience of students and faculty to be courageous in the midst of adversity, confusion, and disappointment.
“God does not say that life will always be easy. He doesn’t say that school will not be hard. He doesn’t say that people will not put things on social media that are offensive or degrading. The promise that has been consistent in the Bible, from the Old to New Testament, God has said I will be with you every step of the way. Do not be dismayed. Be strong and courageous.”
The bishop noted that as we celebrate Black History Month, it is imperative to remember that it’s less important where we came from, but more so the ways we are committed to living our lives.
“We all come from one unit. The Bible says ‘From one blood, all nations have been made,” said Trimble while explaining his “backpack theory.” The theory is predicated on the idea that if we were to pack a backpack and go back to our original places of origin, we would all be led to the same region.
Chapel services provide UIndy members with an opportunity to break away from their hectic schedules and adjust their spiritual focus by spending quality time with God and in community with each other. Initiated by students, Monday Chapel services cater to a Gospel-style of worship which appeals greatly to the black community, but also fosters a welcoming space for those who are either curious to try something new or to just spend time in worship.
One student that since the birth of this new worship service, Monday Chapel has been one of her favorite parts of being at UIndy. She expressed that it was hard for her to find a space where she felt comfortable worshipping since leaving home.
The first and third Mondays of the month are coined “Soul Food Mondays,” in which attendees gather for a fellowship opportunity in a nearby room and share a gourmet soul food meal catered by a local restaurant. But this is not simply an occasion to eat. This is an opportunity for students to stay in the know regarding campus activities, commune with one another, and share about things that are close to their hearts and minds.
As United Methodists across the world are preparing for the Special-Called General Conference, in which members of the Church will discuss plans on how to move forward regarding the subject of human sexuality, students, like many members around the denomination, have thoughts and concerns, on what the future may look like. Bishop Trimble was asked to provide the students with some words of hope.
Pulling from the book of Jeremiah, Bishop Trimble stated, “God says ‘I love you with everlasting love’, and I believe that’s not a compromise, it’s not negotiable, and it’s not predicated on sexual orientation, race, and status in life.”
He continued, “I believe that every person is of sacred worth — not to be abused, neglected, ostracized or oppressed. We have a difficult time dealing with difference and we see this in our country now. And we have a difficulty with welcoming all people without reservation and that’s a challenge we’re faced with.”
Students proceeded to lift the bishop, along with leaders of the Church, in heartfelt prayer at the close of Monday’s gathering. They ask that God remain among them as they preside at the 2019 General Conference.
We all come from one source of life and it’s important for us to be strong and courageous. Be proud of wherever you are from, whatever condition you came out of. Don’t just brag about where you are today because at some point in life you’ll be able to help someone else and encourage them. – Bishop Trimble