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2023 Asbury Revival

2023 Asbury Revival

The 2023 Asbury Revival is an ongoing Christian revival at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky.[1] The event was prompted after students spontaneously stayed in Hughes Auditorium following weekly chapel services on 8 Feb. 2023. News of the phenomena was quickly spread on social media and in Christian online publications.[2] The revival has been compared to similar revivals at Asbury, notably one that occurred in 1970, which had far-reaching consequences in Methodism, US culture, and in the creation of the Jesus movement.[3] The revival is noted for its use of social media, as the participants are mainly members of Generation Z.[4]

Background

Statue of John Wesley that is located in Wesley Square at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. The revival spread to the seminary in its first week.

Asbury University is a private university affiliated with the Wesleyan-Holiness movement. Chapel attendance is mandatory for students on certain weekdays. Students remained in the chapel following a regularly scheduled service, initially only attracting attention from student publications and within Methodist circles. Asbury has a history of revivals, the school claiming them in 1905, 1908, 1921, 1950, 1958, 1970, 1992, and 2006.[5] The 1970 revival at Asbury had far reaching cultural effects, and is central to the construction of Asbury’s spiritual identity.[1] The revival has been described as calm, and some commentators have noted the absence of many of the features of contemporary worship. The revival is additionally significant because of its spread on social media, particularly among Generation Z, the most irreligious generation in US history.[4][6] Responses to the revival have been reported at other university campuses and the revival notably has an ecumenical expression, with MethodistBaptist, and Episcopal groups participating in its spread.[7]

The revival is occurring amid a split in the United Methodist Church over issues of Christianity and homosexuality. Despite Asbury’s conservative stance on homosexuality, LGBTQ student activists have expressed support for the revival on social media.[8]

Timeline of Events[edit]

DateEventNotes
8 Feb. 2023Undergraduates remain in the auditorium following the conclusion of a morning chapel service[9] for prayer. The first report of the revival is in the student newspaper, The Asbury Collegian.[3] News of the phenomena spread on social media via the personal accounts of students.Similarities are immediately noted with a similar religious revival at Asbury in 1970.[10]
9 Feb. 2023Students remain in the auditorium throughout the night. The revival continues into its second day.It is estimated that the crowd drops to 50 at its lowest point in the night.
10 Feb. 2023Students remain in the auditorium throughout the day. Students begin to set up coffee stations. While non-students are present, the participants appear to be largely made up of the student body.[11][12] The event receives local media coverage.[13]Pictures online of the auditorium show it at capacity.[14]
11 Feb. 2023Revival continues through the fourth day. Crowds begin to swell Hughes Auditorium in as local media coverage continues.Pictures online of the auditorium show it beyond capacity.[14]
12 Feb. 2023Revival continues into its fifth day. Busses and vans from churches and other religious institutions are observed arriving at Asbury for the revival.[15] Asbury Theological Seminary’s Estes Chapel, as well as McKenna Chapel and other buildings on campus are opened for overflow crowds.
13 Feb. 2023Revival continues into its sixth continuous day. Asbury Theological Seminary’s Estes Chapel is continued to be opened for overflow crowds.[16][17][18]
13 Feb. 2023Seminarians at Virginia Theological Seminary lead Wesley’s Covenant Service in response to the revival. Students at Cedarville University hold a worship service in response to the revival.[19][7]The event was organized by the Methodist Society of the Episcopal Church according to an announcement on Twitter.[20]Cedarville University is a Baptist-affiliated institution.
14 Feb. 2023Revival Continues through the seventh continuous day.[14][21] [22]
14 Feb. 2023At least 22 other institutions travel to Asbury for the revival.[19] Some of these institutions did so in official capacities, while others were unofficial appearances of students and faculty. Students at Campbellsville University and Lee University remain in worship in response to the revival.[19][7]Campbellsville is a Baptist-affiliated institution, while Lee is a Church of God-Cleveland affiliated university.
15 Feb. 2023Revival continues into its eighth day. The revival receives coverage from The Washington Post.[1] Asbury Seminary’s regularly scheduled chapel services overflow. Hughes Auditorium is closed by Asbury students to all people 26 and over, a decision made to prioritize the voices of Generation Z. A simulcast of Hughes Auditorium is set up in Estes and McKenna Chapels.
16 Feb. 2023Revival continues into its ninth day. An announcement that Hughes Auditorium is closed from 1:00 AM to 12:00 PM and that livestreaming is banned in Hughes Auditorium and the chapels is made on Asbury University’s official Instagram account.[23]
17 Feb. 2023Revival continues into its tenth day. Following the university’s regularly scheduled chapel service, Hughes Auditorium is opened to the public, again giving seating preference to those in high school through age 25 (Gen-Z)[24]. At 5pm a fourth external venue, Mt. Freedom Baptist Church, was added to service the thousands lined up in the cold waiting for space in Hughes Auditorium.Drone footage captures lines several blocks long after Hughes Auditorium is full.[25]
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