Being a new and young church in a college town for EOW, means having many new and young college students flood your church.
At the Epicenter of Worship, 227 N. Capitol Ave., many college students are fulfilling roles that many of their parents would normally fill.
The role of minister.
At a church where well over half of the members are college students, it is almost inevitable that students would fall into positions seemingly too serious for them.
“We have over 300 members at our church and 80 percent of them are college students,” said Pastor Sean Holland.
Holland began the church almost five years ago in the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center, 55 S. Harrison Road.
Michael Sanford, 22, who is a senior at Michigan State University studying family child ecology with a youth emphasis on child welfare, has been attending EOW since its Kellogg Center days.
Sanford started in the ministry as a deacon and was ordained a minister a little over two years ago.
“We were ordained the weekend of the church’s anniversary service. That evening the church had a banquet and we were given certificates,” Sanford said. That was in 2006.
Sanford said he felt for a long time in high school that it was being impressed upon his heart to become a minister. “I felt it was something I was called to do,” he said.
After asking Pastor Sean Holland many questions about being a minister, Holland finally asked him if it was something he was interested in. After saying yes, he began training in the ministry and later became a deacon, before being ordained as a minister.
Sanford is not the only one who has always felt a “calling” to the ministry. Tiffany Vauters, 24, said she always knew she wanted to be a minister because of her passion for the Bible and God. She said she also knew because of her desire to help those saved Christians remain saved, and those non-Christians get saved.
“I like building avenues and outlets for new Christians and saved people. I have goals to teach and preach in Spanish,” Vauters said.
She received a bachelors degree in Spanish from Western Michigan University and then transferred to MSU to get a second bachelors and to be closer to EOW. She began attending EOW, while she was still at Western.
Though she has already received her ministers license, she is planning on going to seminary school. “I will be attending seminary in Grand Rapids in the fall to get a masters in intercultural ministries,” she said, of course commuting so that she doesn’t leave the church.
Krystle Hunter, 22, a family community services senior at MSU, was ordained the same day as Vauters a little over eight months ago.
“I was ordained September 16, 2007 at the Epicenter of Worship. The ceremony was held during the week of our third year church anniversary,” said Hunter.
Vauters and Hunter’s ceremony was much like Sanford’s. They were presented before the church and given their certificates and licenses.
Sanford says that there is not much of a difference between being a deacon and being a minister. Vauters, Hunter and Sanford all agree on one thing, and that is that being a minister is mainly about love and service.
“Being a minister calls for two main focuses. These are love and service. These are the most important, because this is exactly what Jesus did. Being a minister is serving people so that they are reconciled to Christ,” said Hunter.
They all maintain that their pastor instills in them a desire to do whatever they can to help serve the people of God and their church.
Sanford said, “While being a deacon has more emphasis on serving people in a natural sense, being a minister has more emphasis on serving people in a spiritual sense”.
He said that as a deacon he did a lot of moving furniture out of houses, cleaning the church, picking and dropping people off at their various destinations. Ministry he said is a lot of prayer for the members of the church and preparing Sunday morning service and taking charge of the various different ministries the church has.
And while none of them are acknowledge as members by their church’s in their home town, they say that they are fine serving at EOW, juggling school, work and the ministry.
“I find myself caring more about the ministry and the church than about my school work,” said Vauters. “I have to step back and check myself, because pastor expects us to be students first”.
Though it may be hard holding everything together and managing their time, these student ministers wouldn’t have it any other way.