In an effort to increase the Christ-centered environment on Indiana Wesleyan University’s campus, a group of students is petitioning for a 24-hour prayer room in the Barnes Student Center.
These students are the leaders of the Prayer Furnace, IWU’s on-campus prayer ministry. Currently, the Prayer Furnace is held in the Green Room of Old College Church. Due to construction of a new building, however, the OCC is scheduled to be torn down this summer, leaving the Prayer Furnace without a home.
“We really desire some kind of room for the whole student body, no matter what ministry.” said Jeff Stuttler (sr), worship leader for the Prayer Furnace. “It’s not a Prayer Furnace ministry. The Prayer Furnace is just pushing this because we’re about prayer.”
The group is working with the Dean of the Chapel’s Office for use of a room on campus.
“I have sought to share a vision from God with our students in hopes that one or more of them would grab onto the vision,” said Dr. Jim Lo, Dean of the Chapel. “And then allow them to have great freedom to plan and move forward with the vision to make it become a reality.”
Members believe the concept of constant prayer fits closely with IWU’s mission statement:
“Indiana Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered academic community committed to changing the world by developing students in character, scholarship, and leadership.”
The room will work just like the three 24/7 study rooms located across campus. There will be a card swipe so that students are able to access the room at any time of the night to pray and worship.
Sue Wampner, coordinator of prayer initiatives and personal adviser to the Prayer Furnace, said she desires to see students unite in prayer as a community.
“I know that there are students praying in their dorm rooms,” said Wampner. “Just because they don’t connect with the Prayer Furnace or they aren’t real visible about it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. We just want to engage it more; we want to have more community in it.”
On Wednesday, April 13 the Prayer Furnace students met with Vice President Todd Voss to propose their idea.
“The meeting went very well,” Stuttler said. “Dr. Voss was extremely open to our suggestions, even pitching in with the dreaming process of where the location of this prayer room could be.”
Hoping to have a full petition, the Prayer Furnace has set up a table in the Mallway with signs, drawings and the petition for students to sign.
“I already signed [the petition],” said Julie Ruse (so). “There is [the Williams Prayer Chapel] and the dorm chapels, but when you just have that time when you’re out and about, I think it would be convenient to have it in the Student Center as well.”
The 24/7 prayer room would be different than the Williams Prayer Chapel in a few ways. The room would have worship music playing and would be much more conducive for group prayer.
“The difference between the prayer room and the Williams Prayer Chapel is that Williams is really devotional; it’s a place for contemplative prayer,” Stuttler said. “It’s not conducive for communal prayer or worship music being played, which I believe is a powerful combination with prayer.”
Those involved in developing the prayer room are passionate about prayer and bringing more of it to the IWU campus.
“I love the passion of the Prayer Furnace students,” said Wampner. “I want to see the passion that these students have shown just continually engage other students.”
If approved, the Prayer Furnace hopes to have the room in place by fall 2011.