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Students start spring semester in worship, prayer at Morning Glory Sunrise Service

LU Praise sings during a Morning Glory service before the first day of the Spring 2024 semester in the Center for Music & the Worship Arts on Jan. 15, 2024. (Photo by Chase Gyles)

As the sun rose on Monday, the start of the Spring 2024 semester at Liberty University, a host of students gathered in the Center for Music and the Worship Arts, Concert Hall for a time of worship and short devotion in the Scriptures during a Morning Glory Sunrise Service.

Chancellor Jonathan Falwell delivers a devotion to students during an early morning service before the first day of the Spring 2024 semester on Jan. 15, 2024. (Photo by Chase Gyles)

Hands and voices raised high in the concert hall as they were led by LU Praise, followed by a short message from Chancellor Jonathan Falwell and a closing prayer by President Dondi Costin.

With Monday coinciding with Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations nationally, Falwell recognized King for being a man who “stood up for what is right when no one else would,” and was never compromising for what he believed in.

“He said these words: ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,’” Falwell said. “We stand here today and we recognize what an amazing gift it is that we’ve been given; that the God who created love, the God who was the epitome of love, the God who was the definition of love is the God that today we sing about.”

Falwell read from Psalm 40 and encouraged students to be led by their faith and prayer as they embark on the new semester. Through the psalm, Falwell explained that God not only hears us through prayers, but that He “reaches down when we were stuck in the mud” to set our feet on solid ground.

Students kicked off the semester with a Morning Glory Sunrise Service before the first day of the Spring 2024 semester in the Center for Music & the Worship Arts on Jan. 15, 2024. (Photo by Chase Gyles)

“I don’t know about you, but many times in my life I felt like I’ve been stuck in the mud,” Falwell added. “You guys are starting a semester today — a new semester. And probably at some point in the next couple of weeks … you’re going to feel like you’re stuck in the mud. You’re going to feel like this is too much. But here’s what I want you to know: God will never put more on you than He puts in you to bear it out.”

After LU Praise sang the classic gospel song, “We’ve Come This Far By Faith,” a song that has played an inspirational role over Liberty’s history.

“Every single day (Liberty founder Dr. Jerry Falwell) did a radio show, and it was on that radio show that he began talking about starting a school that now is Liberty University,” Chancellor Falwell said. “And that show started and ended with a song and the song was … ‘We’ve Come This Far By Faith.’ It’s a great song.”

“We are here today because of the mighty hand of God,” Falwell added. “We have come this far by faith, and if we’ve gotten this far by faith then I want to make sure wherever we go in the future … that we do so in faith. My prayer for you as you start the semester would be that that is exactly true in your life.”

Liberty President Dondi Costin prays over students during a Morning Glory service before the first day of the Spring 2024 semester in the Center for Music & the Worship Arts on Jan. 15, 2024. (Photo by Chase Gyles)

The students who took time out on the first morning of classes to attend the service said they were grateful for the opportunity to have a place where they can start their semester in prayer and worship.

“It’s a cool opportunity to start right with the Lord,” freshman Clay Shepler said. “It gives us encouragement and a fresh start into a semester with a lot of stress and strife, and it gives us that touchpoint with the Lord and each other to have that clean slate.”

Another group of students — Kloe Thomas, Ellie Flower, and Hannah Maloney — remarked on how refreshing it was to have a place to worship at school.

Flower, who said she graduated from a public high school, said she never thought starting her school semester off with worship was possible.

“It’s a great way to be able to put your eyes and mind on the whole reason we’re here,” she said. “These opportunities … we didn’t even think things like this could happen.”

Maloney said the early morning service was an opportunity to “set a precedent of self-discipline for the semester,” a welcome blessing for her.

“We get up to be here and it’s so worth it to be here with our peers and to be able to put that time in for God,” she said.

LU Praise sings during a Morning Glory service before the first day of the Spring 2024 semester in the Center for Music & the Worship Arts on Jan. 15, 2024. (Photo by Chase Gyles)

Thomas said she is using the service as a foundation for the semester.

“It’s surreal … it just sets a nice tone for the year,” Thomas said. “I thought, ‘Yeah, 7 a.m. is going to be tough,’ but the worship and the devotion is going to fuel us for the rest of the day and semester, so this was really worth it to us.”

Students will gather again for worship and inspiration on Wednesday morning at the first Convocation of the semester, featuring special guest Sadie Robertson Huff, in the Vines Center. (View the full spring Convocation schedule.)

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