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Reviewing spiritual renewal

Spring semester focuses on community

Taylor alumnus J.R. Briggs reminds campus about the importance of community during Spiritual Renewal week. (Photograph provided by Kaitlyn Kennedy)

Taylor alumnus J.R. Briggs reminds campus about the importance of community during Spiritual Renewal week. (Photograph provided by Kaitlyn Kennedy)

By Hannah Stumpf | Echo

“You can have control or growth, but you can’t have both,” said J.R. Briggs on Feb. 14, during the evening service of Spiritual Renewal week. Briggs, along with Jon Cavanagh, campus pastor, have been preparing for the spring semester Spiritual Renewal week since the fall semester.

Briggs, founder of Kairos Partnerships, was chosen to be the spring speaker due to his familiarity with the Taylor community. Having graduated from Taylor himself, Briggs knew Taylor culture and could speak more on how the chapel theme, “Cultivating Christian Community,” best applied to Taylor students, faculty and staff.

The timing played an important role in how the speaker was chosen as well.

“It feels like the February Spiritual Renewal is a little more difficult because second semester starts fast,” Cavanagh said. “Some people have been here for J-term, and the last few years we have hit the topic (in J-term). So during J-term we hit it with a little more depth, but not everyone is here on campus. So how do we hit that with Spiritual Renewal in a way that makes us start thinking about some of the habits and routines we have going into spring semester?”

Another consideration organizers make is energy on campus. Students’ ability to participate in September may be greater than in February. Briggs’ approach was more reflection based, as opposed to Nirup Alphonse, the fall Spiritual Renewal speaker, who focused on in-service participation and altar calls.

One of the challenges of having a theme with multiple people addressing it is how speakers coordinate theme without duplicating content or approach. Cavanagh and Briggs discussed how to best do this and in what ways the Taylor community can apply this year’s chapel theme practically.

“We talk a lot about our engagement with technology,” said Cavanagh. “What does that look like? . . . I think the challenge to be fully present is crucial for us, and it doesn’t go away . . . whether that’s in the classroom, in chapel . . . in relationships is a huge part of living here together.”

“It personally struck me too . . . I really liked how the speaker said to choose people over technology,” said freshman Catie Hawthorne. “I mean, I love my phone, but I think it’s important when we have that choice of helping out someone in person or being on our phone, that we choose the person and care for the individual in real life.

Whether building a cell phone tower at mealtimes or discussing Spiritual Renewal week with DAs and floormates, application rooted in the theology of Imago Dei made this Spiritual Renewal week stand out. It was, as Briggs put it, “messassary.”

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