Growing up in the church, I knew I wanted to continue to walk in my faith in college. To me, going to church every Sunday was certainly part of my routine, but it meant much more to me than that. It was a vital component of my faith, and I guess I realized this, because even before I moved into my dorm at IUP in 2020, I planned on finding a church to call home.
I knew I believed in Jesus, and I knew that He was (and is) present with me through all of life’s moments, the good and the bad. I had no idea, though, that there was much, much more to my relationship with Him.
In fall of 2020, I found Revelry Church. It was the first church I tried, and honestly, I didn’t even try any others. At that time, they were doing house church, in which several members of the Revelry community offered their homes for services, which were pre-recorded. We attended a monthly service together as an entire church community in what used to be our home, the Indiana Theater. At house church, we sat in the living room, and worshiped with my friend Hollie (whose house church I attended,) playing the guitar as we all sang along. It felt so much more like a community than any other church I had attended. In fact, I had attended a larger church for a year with my mother in high school and never actually connected with other members. I will say that it felt a lot more like a routine– going to church on Sunday, simply because that is part of my weekly habit. At Revelry, however, I was greeted with open arms, asked for my contact information, and members truly were interested in getting to know me and welcoming me into the community. It was a place that would lead me to true growth in Christ.
Roughly a month after I began attending, something occurred in the Revelry community that caused a change in pastor leadership. I won’t go into details, but I will say that this caused the large community I was welcomed into to dwindle greatly in numbers of regular attendees. The strong foundation was still there, but it definitely did not look like the church I had decided to attend. Not once, however, did it cross my mind that I could simply find another church community. I felt that God had a purpose for me at Revelry, and I stayed.
For context, I had been baptized in my childhood church at age ten. Baptism was simply done around this age, and while I had received a foundation of Biblical knowledge and classes leading up to my baptism, I later realized I didn’t feel it was truly my choice; rather, it was more of an expectation.
Every Sunday at Revelry, we were asked to close our eyes. Then, there was an opportunity for anyone in the crowd to decide at that moment to give their life to Jesus with the simple raise of a hand. I remember one particular Sunday, although I had grown up knowing Jesus and learning about the Bible, I made the choice that I was truly deciding to give my life to Him, on my own. I raised my hand.
That March, I was baptized. My family came from home, and I felt so happy. I knew that this was something I was deciding for myself, without any outside pressure. Recognizing that my life was so much greater than myself, that I am living for something bigger than I could ever imagine, was a monumental moment in my life.
Since that day in 2021, I began discipleship with a close friend of mine in the church. She has become my “big sister in Christ,” as I like to call her, helping me understand the word and grow through it. I joined the worship team after ten years of not singing in front of anyone out of fear and self-doubt, because I wasn’t singing for myself, I was singing for the Lord, to lead others in worshiping Him. I grew unafraid to be open about my faith, even when that means trying to help others (usually non-believers) when they ask me difficult questions, such as “if there is a God, why do people suffer?” or, “why do you need to go to church if you are a Christian?” I helped lead the children’s ministry for a few months, building off my love for children and helping others grow.
Also since that time, Revelry ceased to exist. We replanted a church, with the same vision of leading people to Christ, with a different foundation. We no longer met at the Indiana Theater; instead, we met at our Pastor Brandon’s house for several months. Our community, which was once dwindling, has begun to thrive and grow once more. And today, although I was not at service, it was announced that Anchor Church (our replanted church’s name) has a building to call home. I know now why there was never a doubt in my mind about attending Revelry: the Lord had a purpose for this church, and I was meant to be there.
I know that it is so normal to attend church all one’s life and not give it a second thought at college. I know that many have been hurt by the church and therefore choose not to pursue faith in college, and if that is you, I am sorry. The church (as a whole institution) is certainly not perfect, but what I can tell you is that God’s love for you is. Perhaps you didn’t grow in the church at all and have never given much thought about God. Regardless of how you have gotten here, I pray that if there ever is a moment in which you walk into a church for the first time ever, the first time in a while, or simply a church other than the one you regularly attend, that you are welcomed with open arms and made to feel how I felt that first morning at Revelry.
These past two years, I have been more in awe at God’s love for us and His power than I had ever been in my life. While I have grown, I know that there is so much more growth in Him to be seen throughout the rest of my life, and I honestly cannot wait.
For more information on Anchor Church, Indiana PA: