CHICAGO (July 20, 2009) – North Park University faculty, staff, alumni, and students played a significant role in making sure that CHIC 2009, the latest installment of the Evangelical Covenant Church’s triennial youth event, was a huge success.
The weeklong event attracted 5,500 people from around the world to the University of Tennessee from July 12–17.
North Park works closely with the denomination’s planning team. “Our philosophy is ‘How can we help you accomplish your goals,’” says Mark Olson, the University’s director of admissions and church relations. Those goals include making sure everyone has a good time while also entering into or deepening relationships with Jesus.
The school sponsored the opening Welcome Party, which featured bands, all the hot dogs and snacks the kids could eat, and The Wall, a temporary structure that changed throughout the week as students painted their own expressions of faith on it. North Park coaches led clinics and organized tournaments.
Paul Johnson, University Ministries program coordinator, was the Mainstage producer who oversaw all aspects of the large evening events, ranging from booking speakers and bands to working with technical crews. Members of his team included North Park alumni Ethan Pagliaro, Greg Dolezal, and Bjorn Amundsen.
Seven faculty from the University and Seminary led workshops and seminars throughout the week. Presenters from the Seminary were Soong-Chan Rah and Klyne Snodgrass. Boaz Johnson, Ginny Olson, Jim Dekker, and Provost Joseph Jones of the University also addressed the students.
Every morning, a music team comprised of North Park students led worship for 1,200 people. The team planned the services themselves, Olson says.
University and Seminary graduate Matt Lundgren led worship at Mainstage, along with fellow alumnae Becky Johnson Ykema and Sharon Irving. Current University Ministries worship coordinator Stephen Kelly was also part of the worship band.
Campus Pastor Judy Peterson emceed the evening events and preached Wednesday night.
“We’re all the same—we don’t want to be teased or judged,” Peterson told the students. “So, we’re never honest. We just allow glimpses of what we’re really like. We live a lie a lot of the time . . . or a half-truth.”
She added, “We have one, big, basic fear: if we are found out, we will be rejected. No Facebook friends, no Twitter friends. We’ll be alone, rejected. And we can’t handle that. Pretending protects us. It’s risky to put it all out there.”
Peterson suggested that Christians who pretend are more at risk of missing the love of Jesus. “Pretending is not just a problem found in the world, it is a big problem among Christians too,” she explained. “Pretending is much quicker and easier than being honest.”
North Park students have responded positively to Peterson’s vulnerability, and the students at CHIC did the same. She shared that when she was first married, she feared that her husband would not love her as much if he saw what she looked like without makeup. Then she told them how, every morning, her husband reassures her that she’s the most beautiful without it.
God offers the same unconditional love to the students, regardless of what they might want to hide, Petersons said, declaring, “Nothing will ever separate you from the one who calls you beloved.”
Hundreds of students streamed forwarded in response to the altar call she gave following her message.
Photo: Campus Pastor Judy Peterson at CHIC 2009