Vespers is a longstanding Columbia tradition that’s constantly being renewed by new leadership and fresh vision. We interviewed Alyssa Hooge, this year’s Vespers leader, to learn about her hopes for Vespers and our students.
Please share about Vespers. What is it and why is it important to our Columbia community?
At Columbia we gather twice a week as a student body for worship, at Chapel on Thursday mornings and at Vespers on Tuesday nights. Chapel is set aside for all students and faculty to gather. Vespers, on the other hand, is an extended time of worship that’s student-led and geared toward our student body. We gather intentionally to meet with God and with each other. I know in my own journey at Columbia attending Vespers has been very formative. It is a time where we are able to take what we have been learning in classes and bring it before God and wrestle with what it means to actually live out those things.
What sort of feedback do you get from students about corporate worship at Columbia?
The feedback I receive most consistently is the appreciation for the communal aspect of our worship. During our corporate worship times people are really encouraged and spoken into. We all are dealing with the stress of school, we’re young adults, and we’re figuring out what it means to follow Christ. This is a formative time of life for us and it is definitely needed to gather together and uplift each other and help turn each other toward Christ.
Why are you passionate about leading worship in our community? Is there one particular Vespers service this semester that stands out to you?
I am so passionate about leading worship in general. I love to be part of what God is doing in any given place. Leading at Columbia this year has been very special. It is so unique to be able to join in worship with your friends and peers consistently week after week. We as a Vespers team have been very intentional about trying to listen to where God is leading us, and being faithful to follow. I think my favourite Vespers service so far this year was our service we called “Who He Is: Foreign, Familiar.” The goal was to frame a service around how God makes himself known to us, is Immanuel, how he takes on flesh and bone and tabernacles among us, but at the same time is so foreign, and we will never fully understand everything about him. We entered into a time where we encouraged students to shout out who they have experienced God to be in their life, who they know him as. It was very powerful to hear how God has shown up in other people’s lives, and through that understand more and more of who he is. The room felt full of awe and wonder of who our God is, it was beautiful to join in that together as a community.
What three words describe the experience that is offered to students at Vespers?
Bible-based, Spirit-filled and community-focused. I know that’s really 6 ;).