“The Vine” Worship Alternative at Epworth

TR Staff
Staff Writer

By Joseph Kjos
For College students, the balancing of classes, homework and part-time jobs can leave little time for other activities. Church-going students may be traveling from home on the weekends, or find it difficult to surrender the weekend to the same alarms demanded by classes throughout the rest of the week. But at Epworth United Methodist Church, Paster Dayne Zachrison is providing an alternative to morning services. At 5:30 each Sunday evening, Pastor Zachrison holds a special service specifically aimed at young adults.
Christened “The Vine,” this service differs in many ways from a typical morning church ceremony. Zachrison prefers to take an approach that focusses more on fellowship amongst the attendants than preaching. Though he does give a version of that morning’s message, it is much more conversational and interactive. He welcomes questions and asks a few himself in order to encourage discussion on the topic as well as address any unclear or unexplored territory.
The talk is not limited to a single topic, however, nor is being a young adult required. Zachrison welcomes people from all walks of life, and enjoys the gathering of believers for encouragement and discipling others. Those in attendance can voice their weekly trials and receive the counsel of others. Different perspectives and experiences from each individual may provide some relief from even the most minor of difficulties. For many students, stress comes through the expectations of college assignments, finals, and all the interpersonal experiences with peers and professors that comes with being on ones one for the first time. The next week, attendants can follow up on whatever challenges that were brought up the previous week and provide support. One issue Pastor Zachrison mentioned was the difficulty for many to reconcile their faith with science, and what they may be learning in classes. He contends that the two don’t need to be in conflict, and he is glad to ask difficult questions himself. Finding answers is important to those in the faith, and Zachrison says that the Vine provides “increased comfort to students’ faith in the context of college by asking these questions and becoming more comfortable with the challenges from professors.”
Although The Vine has a more interpersonal nature, it also conducts common church practices. The periodical taking of communion is offered, as well as regular prayers. Music worship used to be a regular part of the service, but Zachrison laments the current lack of musicians to supply their skills. He would like to see this element included again, but of the estimated 25 people who come from time to time—an average of 8-12 each Sunday—musical provisions remain elusive. But this isn’t the only change that the Vine has recently undergone.
Since it began in January of 2016, The Vine met at 7:00 p.m. The change to 5:30 was made in consideration of a number of VCSU Concert Choir members who regularly rehearse Sunday evenings at 7:00. Zachrison has noted some positives that come from this change and is currently undecided if it will switch back once the Choir’s schedule changes again. One benefit this change has yielded is time for a full meal, which is supplied by volunteer church members, and occasionally, prepared by Zachrison himself. This is one reason the earlier time may prove to be favored as regular. Zachrison views this change as enhancing of the fellowship and interaction of The Vine, and what college student would want to see a free meal go away?
As for those who attend, the purpose of providing an easier time for busy students to gather in faith and fellowship seems to be served by the Vine. It was, in fact, a college student who first suggested the idea to Pastor Zachrison. This is the reason it was started, but the results have also yielded more involvement from those who are not members of Epworth, yet are glad to give spare time by volunteering to wash dishes or other forms of assistance for church functions. A young couple who attend the Vine even selected Epworth as the church for their marriage ceremony. Though the Vine does not gather during the summer due to its college focus, Paster Zachrison has found a way to not only expand his ministry to those in need of it but also finds himself equally blessed by those who attend the Vine.