Bridging the Gap Urban Ministries highlights the importance of gospel music in worship with “Gospel Fest”

Liberty students set out to bridge the gap between contemporary traditions of Christian worship and gospel music at “Gospel Fest: the Revival.”

The event on Sunday, Feb. 23, was held by Bridging the Gap Urban Ministries (BGUM) in partnership with the Office of Equity and Inclusion. Over eight different performances, including spoken word poems, praise dancing and gospel music songs, were featured during the night in the Townes Auditorium. As the artists poured out songs and spoken word poems, the audience stood listening to the various performances singing along with the music.

According to BGUM president Lacroy Nixon, the club hosts this night of worship every spring semester and says their goal for the night has always been about getting in the presence of God through gospel worship music. 

“At the end of the day, the main thing (Bridging the Gap) wants you to do is walk away with something, ‘cause anybody can just get on stage and sing or rap … but what good is it if nobody walks away with feeling encouraged or uplifted?” Nixon said.

Throughout the event, the theme of revival was emphasized as each performer took the stage. The spoken word poems reflected on how the Lord needs to be first and foremost in people’s lives and how the church so desperately needs revival in today’s culture. Nixon said the purpose of Gospel Fest is not just to have a fun event. 

“The whole purpose of the event is to just get into the presence of the Lord like, kind of putting away all other worries, all other struggles, and coming here to get fed,” he said.

Gospel Fest is a very intentional event for Bridging the Gap, Nixon said. For Nixon personally, the event is a special time because of the celebration of Gospel music that it features. 

“We are exposing people to a whole other side of church culture, and at the same time hearing a lot of music that has helped shaped my Christian walk and many others’, too,” Nixon said.

The set list included gospel versions of well-known songs like “Oceans” by Hillsong United and “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury, during which the audience raised their voices with the performers.

Freshman Javan Tate said she could feel the presence of the Lord moving during the event. 

“I do feel very renewed, in a sense,” said Tate. She found that the quieter setting made for an atmosphere of revival. 

Freshman Maggie Hicks said she was also impacted by the way the Lord moved in her life during Gospel Fest.  

“I’m just so in awe of the different culture of what I’m getting to experience,” she said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s ministering to me, and then I get to proclaim that back to the Lord.” 

The night finished with a sermon presented by a member of BGUM, which was used to present the Gospel to the attendees followed by a time of response or altar call for those interested. 

“The best part is when people walk out afterward saying ‘I needed that’ and feel uplifted and encouraged,” Nixon said.

Quan McLaurin, director of diversity retention for the Office of Equity and Inclusion, said joining with the mission of BGUM was an easy relationship to make, especially as they planned for “Gospel Fest: the Revival.” 

“We wanted to do a night of worship and BGUM was already planning their annual Gospel Fest, but they needed some help with resources, and we had those resources available,” McLaurin said. “We love to support our affinity groups on campus, and we were able to come alongside them and help this event happen.”

By joining with various student groups like BGUM, McLaurin said he hopes that students will have a more basic awareness of who the Office of Equity and Inclusion are and why they exist as an office.

“One of the big goals is cultural enrichment. We want to make sure that when we have different events on campus, we are infusing a representation of everyone’s culture and introducing different aspects that may not be as present or be as prevalent,” McLaurin said.

In preparation for the event, McLaurin said BGUM did most of the heavy lifting in booking performers and the Office of Equity and Inclusion helped with the media marketing portion of the event. 

Outside of “Gospel Fest: the Revival,” BGUM hosts other events and actively volunteers in the Lynchburg community, hoping to use their love of music and performing as a means of ministering their Christian faith to the people who attend their events. 

“Part of our tenant is to spread the Gospel through the performing arts whether that be rap, hip-hop, spoken word, dance and anything that you could showcase, and we typically use that in a literal and figurative sense to bridge the gap,” Nixon said.

Smith is a news reporter.

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