None of it was planned.
Perhaps that’s the most beautiful part of the event, a true testimony not only to God's power moving across campus, but to the hunger and service of Taylor students.
Despite having been started at the end of the Spring 2023 semester, Met By Love has taken off this school year with a weekly congregation of anywhere from 50 to 100 students, all seeking to be “met” by the love of Christ.
It’s a desire that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
On Labor Day, 2023, 23 Taylor students were baptized in Taylor Lake, publicly declaring their commitment to the Lord in an all student-led Met By Love service.
“It was just this beautiful, reverent moment,” junior Caleb Tiede, the Christian Ministry major co-leading that night, said. “It wasn't even like, ‘Does anybody else want to come?’…People just kept coming as if they had planned it that night. It was just completely spontaneous.”
It started when one student texted Tiede privately, saying he wanted to be baptized. But when Tiede opened an invitation to the rest of the attendants, students kept stepping forward, far beyond anything the event’s leadership had expected.
Prior to that night, Tiede had wanted to be prepared, asking professors questions about whether students even could baptize other students. The answer was resounding, and as a result, nearly 2 dozen students were led to share their testimony and profess their faith before taking a literal plunge into the new life Christ offers.
Grace Channell, a freshman Psychology student with a minor in Counseling, was one of those students.
“I didn't even think about it,” she said. “I just went up.”
It was a decision she’d been contemplating for months, but after moving to campus just weeks prior, the timing finally felt right.
Channell was first to step up when Tiede extended the invitation beyond the student who’d texted him.
“It's not like I got baptized before I was a believer,” Channell said. “But I don't know. I find myself changing some things. I didn't like some of my behaviors.”
One such behavior change has been Channell trading more secular music for worship songs, with the goal of being more public about her faith.
It was a big step for her personally — and for the other 22 students who were baptized alongside her — but with an outpouring of support from other students, the decision felt natural.
“I think that that's another thing I encourage students to do,” Greg MaGee, professor of Biblical studies here at Taylor, said, “I think as people have an opportunity and, you know, are ready to be baptized, then that's — it's good not to delay that indefinitely. So I'm glad to hear that students were being responsive to the Spirit's prompting.”
While MaGee said he has a personal preference toward baptisms being done by licensed ministers, he reiterated that there’s no requirement to who can perform the action.
Instead, MaGee placed a greater importance on students’ hearts.
Before baptizing anyone, Tiede and his team asked each person to provide their testimony and explain why they felt led to be baptized that particular night. He wanted to be sure every baptism was done with intent and clarity.
“I think it's great … students are seeing the significant role of baptism in their lives and their community here at Taylor, so that’s encouraging to hear those reports,” MaGee said.
The next chapter of faith is an open page for these Taylor students as they dive into local churches and expand their experience of ministry on campus. What’s clear, however, is this: embarking on whatever their next steps will be, these 23 students and the rest of our university will continue to be met by love.