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You are the voice. We are the echo.
The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo

Multicultural Worship Night redefines worship

Worship leaders sing in multiple languages

Students from across campus and around the world gathered to worship Jesus in the Rediger Auditorium for Multicultural Worship Night.

The night was orchestrated by Brenda Antigua, junior and office of intercultural programs spiritual coordinator, who planned the entire event with input from Maribel Magallanes, director of student leadership and intercultural programs at Taylor. They entered the night with a specific vision: to invite the Taylor community to worship in more ways than just one language.   

“We wanted to create an opportunity for the campus to engage in a multicultural worship experience in both different languages but also styles,” Magallanes said.

Staff from around Taylor University were featured prominently on stage. Victor Cusato, Director of IMPACT, led the worship team. Alongside the gospel choir and band, they started the night off singing “What He’s Done” by Kristian Stanfill and Passion Conferences.

Following that, Tia Cavanaugh-Goggans, director of intercultural initiatives and programs, came up on stage amidst cheers from the audience and led the choir and crowd in singing the song “You Are Good,” by Bethel Music. 

From the start, the band embodied unity, said Antigua. 

“Before we went up to sing, the whole worship team were in agreement of the purpose of all of this,” said junior Karielys Rivera. Of Puerto Rican descent, she supported Cusato by leading in the Spanish worship sections of the night.

While the gospel choir singers remained on stage, the rest of the band exited. A group composed primarily of Burmese students took over the musical instruments. They would stay on stage for the rest of the night, in sharp contrast to previous Multicultural Worship Nights where multiple bands would rotate throughout the night.

“In the past, the dynamic felt more like a talent show,” Antigua said. “Yes, it was still worship, but I felt that it would be better to have a single team lead us through worship throughout the night, with singers who spoke different languages leading us to worship God.” 

Bringing the compilation of music together was a group effort, said Antigua. Conversations with her supervisor, Magallanes, led to her finding singers for the night, but she said that finding musicians was the biggest struggle. 

Senior Zam Muan was the person who contacted all the musicians, said Antigua. He was a close support for her throughout the process, even leading practice when she wasn’t available.

“We’re sleeping on the Burmese students,” said Antigua. “They are talented, and they love the Lord.” 

The band led people in worship throughout the night. Amidst the different languages and styles, one aspect in particular was seen and not heard. The stage was flanked by freshman twins Sophi and Raena Rogers, who are both deaf. They communicated the words of the songs in American Sign Language throughout the night, with hands moving in silent praise.

Midway through the night, Cusato invited people in the crowd to raise their hands if they had never experienced God’s love and asked that the people seated nearby would pray for them.

“I didn’t raise my hand, but sat in my chair and started praying, asking God to reveal himself to me,” said junior Vagi Trotter. “Two people started praying for me and I felt a calmness come over me and started crying.” 

The time of response and prayer was based on Cusato’s talk to the group prior to the worship night, Rivera said. He said that he felt the Lord speaking about his love for the world and what that looked like.  

As the night drew to a close, the auditorium joined in singing "We Crown You King of Glory” by Jesus Passion. Students from across the world came together as they sang a song about united submission to the Lord.

“There were no barriers, just unity,” said Rivera. “It gave us a glimpse of heaven.”

Trotter said that seeing the hearts of the people on stage worshiping and praising stood out to her. People took many postures of worship, both on and off the stage. Students and staff alike were seen in positions of sitting, standing, dancing, weeping, praying and worshiping God through it all. 

The night proved to be more than just a gathering of voices; it was a testament to the transformative power of worship and strength found in diversity. As the community will continue to embrace inclusivity and unity, events like these serve as reminders of the boundless expressions of faith that can emerge when hearts come together in worship.

“Listening to the songs being sung in different languages was beautiful because it’s not something you hear every day, especially at Taylor,” said Trotter.