From Suzy Richardson and charismamag.com.
“As nightfall descends upon the University of Florida campus, a quiet rumbling of voices morphs into thunderous applause. Hundreds of students—a melting pot of denominations and cultures—have converged to worship and pray at an event that signifies a dynamic shift taking place on college campuses across the nation.
Dubbed Unite Now, the first-time event linked students and spiritual leaders from more than 20 campus ministries and area churches in Gainesville, a college town that recently made history when it won the 2007 national football championship between back-to-back national basketball titles.
But spiritual leaders in Gainesville say championships are just a side note in the face of what they are witnessing—a campus saturated by students hungry for more than the typical Wednesday-night Bible study. “There’s a trend that I’ve noticed of not being satisfied with having one foot in the church and one foot in the world,” says George Dumaine, the college pastor at First Assembly of God in Gainesville, who—with guitar in hand—led worship during Unite Now.
“I am very much on the front lines,” adds Dumaine, a senior at the University of Florida (UF) when he talked with Charisma. “And what I am witnessing is an intense hunger for having pure God encounters.”
UF is not alone. Now more than ever, campuses are reporting a dramatic increase in the number of students seeking spirituality. According to a recent New York Times article, officials from a slew of prominent secular colleges including Harvard, Colgate, the University of Wisconsin and the University of California-Berkeley are reporting that students today are “drawn to religion and spirituality with more fervor than at any time they can remember.”
Published in May, the article points to a 2004 groundbreaking study on the spiritual lives of college students. Launched by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), the study reports that of the estimated 112,000 freshmen surveyed, almost half were seeking opportunities to grow spiritually in college.”
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