The Table

Gracie Campbell – Staff writer

This weekend, Dordt University is hosting a campus-wide spiritual retreat open to all students. The Table has been in the works since last semester when campus pastor Sam Ashmore approached campus ministry interns Grace Winnes and Carter King. They were actively looking for needs to be met across campus, how students could be blessed, and what it looks for Dordt to meet these needs.

King, a Dordt junior studying psychology and theology, termed this the “dreaming phase” before they moved into the more practical planning aspects.

“I’m a huge fan of big events. I think there’s something really special about bringing a community together, putting them under one roof, and all having one purpose,” King said. “As soon as he [Ashmore] proposed the idea, I said I was all for it… it was kind of a no-brainer for me.”

Dordt campus ministries has organized retreats in the past. However, the Table is like nothing they have done before.

“[The Table] is more student-focused than outward community-focused,” Ashmore said. “Although we’d love to invite the community if we keep doing this.”

Ashmore said that The Table has been on campus ministry’s mind for over a year. The team started talking about an event like this back in May 2022.

“We didn’t know what that [event] was; we just knew we wanted to have some kind of activation for our students to step into the truth of Scripture and following Jesus,” Ashmore said.

Starting with this goal and deciding on the theme in August, the group began major planning in December. January and February were spent getting the word out across campus and promoting the event.

The Table involves worship, Biblical teaching, and meals eaten together. Christian Dawson, a worship pastor at Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon, formerly worked as a campus pastor at Northwest University and was involved in campus ministries. He will be featured as a speaker during this event.

“I…[feel] like he’s going to relate to our students and connect to university age students,” Ashmore said. “And he has a big heart for what it means to follow Jesus well in 2023.”

Geraldine Latty and Carey Luce will lead The Table participants in sets of worship over the conference period. They visited campus in fall of 2021 and resonated with the Dordt community.

“They bring a rich theological understanding in their worship,” Ashmore said. “But also, they’re going to bring a little bit more of a gospel…worship that’s a little bit different than our area is used to.”

Winnes, a junior at Dordt studying social work, helped plan the conference as an intern for student ministries. She is most looking forward to the community and time spent together.

“[I am] specifically [excited about] letting people take a break on campus,” Winnes said. “The way that it’s set up is bonding at the beginning and depth, connection, and then the connection just goes deeper.”

The conference will take place beginning Friday night and will go into Saturday afternoon. Friday night will consist of dinner, one session, and an activity. Saturday’s schedule includes another two sessions, breakfast, lunch, and a sending out with the close. Friday night, students will plan to be done around 11 p.m., while Saturday will end around 3 p.m.

“In…Ephesians 2, Paul tells us that we have a seat at the table, that we are seated right in the heavenly places…it’s a theme throughout Scripture that we…belong with Jesus. We want everyone to feel like they are welcome and invited to the table.” Ashmore said. “The heart behind [the food] is that we want students to taste and see that God is good.”

Contributed photo

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