Some might consider a fraternity house backyard decorated with a basketball goal and a large SEC logo painted on the ground to be an unusual place for a Christian church service.
But Drew Narmour, who preached at the year’s first Ole Miss Night of Worship on Sunday, said event organizers wanted to break that stigma.
“The idea for the guy who was running it was to get in touch with all of the Greek presidents and sort of invite them there because they are big platforms and because the Greek culture has a pretty bad reputation,” Narmour said. “There’s a lot of people that are not in fraternities or sororities that were there, but the idea was to start with those big platforms.”
Fraternities and sororities have hosted Greek Nights of Worship in the past, but changed the name to Ole Miss Night of Worship this year to attract people from outside the Greek system as well.
The night included a student-led praise band, a sermon by Narmour, who is the associate pastor at Oxford’s Grace Bible Church, and a performance by the UM Gospel Choir.
Event organizer and Alpha Tau Omega President Stuart Gunner reached out to other Greek leaders and students to help organize the event, which he hopes will continue in the future. He estimated that there were several hundred people in the backyard of the ATO house.
“This is something that we’d love to start being once a semester,” Gunner said. “They took last semester off, and it was something that was on a lot of our hearts to bring back because we think it’s definitely a positive for the Ole Miss community to have a night to come together like this and really just spend some time together.”
Students in attendance said that they were glad to have a single event that brought different student groups and multiple campus ministries together for a single service.
“I think we just have a lot of students here that really want to reach out to others in their faith and so this is just a good way to do something on campus where we get to invite people from a ton of different groups and get to come together under one name,” senior public policy major Sloane Reid said.
Narmour’s sermon focused on Mark 7:24-30, a verse from the Bible where Jesus speaks with the woman before expelling a demon from her child’s body. Narmour used the verse as an example of God reaching out to people in ways that they might not understand.
“The sooner we get rid of the idea that Jesus is never going to say anything that makes us uncomfortable, the better,” Narmour said.
Narmour said that people sometimes find their ways to faith through strange circumstances. He used the example of the Italian people, whom he called “un-reached,” and said that Jesus had to do some “pretty miraculous things to reach those people.”
“Hardly any (Italian) people go to church anymore,” Narmour said. “In my experience, I’ve been there six times, you can walk up to 10 people, and all 10 will say either, ‘I go to church once a year’ or ‘I don’t even think about it at all.’”
Narmour also cited an encounter he had in Italy in which he ministered to a student who converted to Christianity as an example of Jesus reaching out to people through unusual circumstances.
The UM Gospel Choir ended the night with performances of “Melodies From Heaven” and “How Great Is Our God.”
“We’re singing our melodies from heaven, and we want God to rain down on us,” UM Gospel Choir member Kejuan Hudson said.