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January 3, 2022

Praise Night Resounds in Student Center

In November, Christian Union Vox and Agape Christian Fellowship united to host Praise night in the Collis Student Center at Dartmouth College. Traditionally, the event has been held off campus, but this fall student organizers Sidra Goldner and Evan Yang wanted to host Praise Night at the student center to provide a larger event and a greater witness to the Dartmouth community.

Christian Union: The Magazine
 recently interviewed Goldner regarding the origin of this year’s Praise Night and its impact on Christians and seekers at Dartmouth. Goldner ’23, an English major from Manchester, New Hampshire, is a student leader with CU Vox.

1 Cycle 8 Vox photoThe Praise Night worship team

How did Praise Night 2021 come together?

Every term, CU Vox and Agape Christian Fellowship organize inter-fellowship worship nights where we can gather to worship, pray, and spend time together as one, big Christian community. As the worship team leaders for Agape and CU Vox, Evan Yang ’23 and I wanted to try something new this term and organize a worship event that was bigger and longer than our typical worship nights.

We wanted Praise Night to be an opportunity for people to really think about what worship is and why we do it, to pause in the midst of a busy term to reflect on who God is and how He is working in our lives, and to connect/re-connect with God and His people at Dartmouth. We decided to host Praise Night in the student center, not only to have space for a larger number of students, but also to be visible to the wider community. We hoped that people walking by would hear the songs we were singing and come in to see what we were about.

How would you describe the atmosphere of Praise Night?

Worshipping in community and hearing the many voices of believers around me is a beautiful reminder that lifting our voices together in worship to God is what we are meant to do, and what we will get to do forever in His presence someday. Praise Night was special because, in the midst of a stressful and hectic term we were all able to put aside our schoolwork and other concerns to come together and focus on what is really important: God’s grace and love for us. It felt like a beautiful example of Matthew 18:20, when Christ tells His disciples, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Not only was it a night of connection to the students around me, but also to the Holy Spirit Who filled the room.

Whether we were singing, praying, or reflecting together in discussion circles, there was an atmosphere of welcome, fellowship, and vulnerability. Even after the event had finished, the fellowship didn’t stop; someone used the sound system to blast upbeat Christian music and we all gathered in the back of the room to eat snacks, talk, and dance together.

The music itself was also a big contributor to the atmosphere. Music is a wonderful vehicle to remind us of who God is, who we are, and what God has done and continues to do for us. I could feel God using the talents of my fellow team members to move me and bring me closer to Him; whether it was their powerful voices resounding throughout the room or their incredible instrumental talents (we had a guitar, besthealthcareinfo.com, cajon, and a cello!), their gifts were an incredible blessing. It reminded me of the psalmist’s cry to “play skillfully, and shout for joy” in Psalm 33:3 and to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” in Psalm 100:1. Their skillful playing honored God and led us all in filling the room with a “joyful noise”!

How did the event open CU Vox to new people and potentially to the Gospel?

One of the things we stressed when advertising this event on campus was that Praise Night was a chance for students to start integrating into Christian community and to connect and/or re-connect with God. We hoped that people who had been added to community GroupMe chat but had not gotten the chance to get involved or who felt far from God would feel welcome to come and spend a Saturday night with God and in fellowship with other believers. We also encouraged people to bring friends!

Hosting Praise Night in the student center instead of in a more insular space was important to us because we hoped people walking by would hear and see; maybe they would be curious about seeing Christians worship together, or hear a lyric that would stick in their heads and spark a thought or question about God. We also wanted the discussion questions to open up people to thinking about God and prayer, regardless of if they were super familiar with Christianity, used to be familiar, or had never really thought about God before.

How does this event fit into the overall mission and vision of Christian Union Vox?

From the moment I became involved in CU Vox my freshman year, I have constantly seen that the heart of this community is to glorify God, to walk together in our faith, and to shine God’s light in the Dartmouth community and in the Upper Valley. This event had that same heart behind it. As a worship team, we wanted to spend a night glorifying and worshipping God, whether one person could come join us or fifty people could. As a community, we wanted to welcome and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ and to be a visible light to other students Dartmouth, meeting in a visible space as to not hide our light under a bushel and to potentially expose others to the idea of the Gospel, worship, and Christian community. We constantly prayed that God would be glorified and that He would use this event in whatever way He saw fit.

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