A new kind of worship experience

While walking to class it is hard to not notice the multitude of stake signs and flyers advertising worship services each week. Many of these worship services are put on by the 31 Christian campus ministries at SMU. This school year, a new service is among them.

Unlike many campus ministries, Jumpstart Gospel Praise and Worship is a worship service hosted by the Office of the Chaplain and Religious Life and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. Jumpstart is open to all students, however, it is geared toward the undergraduate students of the African American community.

Rev. Yvette-Blair Lavallais, who has a master’s in theological studies from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, and her husband Rev. Carl Lavallais lead the worship service. The couple believes there is a need for a service like Jumpstart and want to give back to SMU by filling the void.

In a statement, Blair Lavallais said, “Through my experience at Perkins, I had many classmates who are not African American, yet enjoyed anytime the Black Seminarians Association sponsored Chapel Services. So for anyone who might ask why introduce a new worship service, the answer is simple: we want to offer a worship service style that is appealing and familiar to those who enjoy the African American tradition.”

Jumpstart is a one hour service which meets 7 p.m. Mondays in Portico BCD in Hughes-Trigg. The location of the service is subject to change. The service features singing, prayer and a sermon given by local preachers and graduate students from Perkins.

“We encourage students who have the gifts of singing, spoken-word, praise dance or playing instruments to come and share with us and to feel a sense of ownership in this service. After all, Jumpstart is for them. My wife and I are just here to lead and host it every week,” said Carl Lavallais in a statement.

Senior Genesis Reed attended the first worship service this past Monday. “I personally liked it, it’s rare for me to worship with other students on campus,” said Reed. “It was unique.”

Some students question if there is an actual need for Jumpstart at SMU.

“I see the purpose of this worship experience but within the culture of SMU as segregated as we already are I don’t know if it’s best for our overall cohesion” said Reed.

When hearing about Jumpstart, sophomore La’Keisha Adams shared a different view.

“I think it is awesome, but I also feel like there are so many different Christian ministry events on campus,” said Adams. “It’s not like these events exclude African Americans students. But Jumpstart does provide a different type of praise and worship that some African American students may be more into or comfortable with.”

For more information about Jumpstart Gospel Praise and Worship, contact Rev. Yvette Blair-Lavallais at yblair@smu.edu.

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