Friends News

An Appetite for the Presence of God

by Jessiah Hulle - University Communications | Feb 16, 2017
Habitation Service
The Department of Church Ministries at the University of Valley Forge (UVF) is sponsoring a series of worship nights on campus throughout the Spring 2017 semester, led by Assistant Professors Mark MacLean and David Kim of the Department of Church Ministries. The worship events are referred to as Habitation services because of their pneumatological emphasis on the habitation, rather than mere visitation, of the Holy Spirit in students and on campus. Students worship and pray in a forum where the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is encouraged and celebrated. “We are looking to cultivate an awareness, an appetite, for more of God. God is the center,” MacLean said of the Habitation services. He described the services as a time for students to feel free to worship God without inhibition or stigma. 

The Habitation services are designed to be a forum for students to praise God with as much charisma and Pentecostalism as they feel led, celebrating the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and on campus. “We are not afraid of the spiritual gifts,” MacLean noted. “They are used to strengthen the body. They are manifestations of the presence of God.” He added that although spiritual gifts are important to the Habitation services, they are not the goal. “God is our priority,” he said. “Our desire is really just to gather around the presence of God.”

MacLean further noted the pragmatic nature of the services as a useful tool for ministry students to learn effective and biblical ways of leading a Pentecostal service. “We have to make intentional space if we want to train people who work in Pentecostal ministry,” MacLean said. “We are looking to equip Spirit-empowered church ministry leaders to help facilitate the presence of God in services.” Although the Habitation services are sponsored by the Department of Church Ministries, the department initiated a partnership with charismatic pastors familiar with hosting and facilitating similar worship nights to help lead the services.   

Feedback from UVF students has been immensely positive. Michael Garrett, a sophomore in the Pastoral Ministry program, spoke highly of the worship and the leadership. “I walked into Flower Chapel not knowing what to expect. As we all gathered into the sanctuary I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit come over me,” he said. “The Spirit moved in my life that night and replenished my hunger and passion to help people and love people as Christ loved people. The joy I have in my life after this service hasn’t been experienced for many years.” 

Sara Donnamaria, a senior in the Early Childhood Education program, concurred. “I was shocked by the number of students that showed up,” she admitted. “To me, that shows how hungry our campus is for authentic experiences with the Holy Spirit. The spiritual climate is changing. Students are getting more serious about their personal relationships with God.” She also mentioned the uniqueness of the Habitation service’s open and extended worship, which she said “allowed room for the Spirit to move freely.” 

The Department of Church Ministries has already hosted two Habitation services this semester and plans to host five more during the remainder of the semester. “We are not ashamed … of the presence of the Lord,” MacLean said boldly. “We’re going to celebrate it.”