RLC Takes New Approach With Taize, Interfaith Relations


by Ashley Van AlstineStaff Writer

This fall, RLC is trying a new style of worship to provide a variety of options to students. The approach, called Taize, is different from past worship services, and is aimed at providing a quiet break for busy college students.

“Taize is an ancient style of service,” said senior Justin Davis, president of Christian Fellowship. “You use repeated singing that is adapted from chant. We had a service called Come to the Table but people didn’t seem that interested. This service offers no preaching, just a time to be silent and listen to the Spirit. There is singing, prayer and quiet time.”

Taize started in the south of Burgundy, France. In 1940, Brother Roger formed the religious community that focuses on the simplicities in life. Today, this practice has spread all over the world. According to Angela Gafford-Asmus, chaplain and director of RLC at Simpson, the focus of Taize is to cater to the multiple preferences of worshippers.

“Part of our mission is to have a variety of options, not everyone experiences God the same way, so that is why we want to have these options,” Gafford-Asmus said. “This style of worship is something that young people seem to respond to.”

The Taize service is in held in Smith Chapel, Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. Asmus believes the homey environment allows students to embrace their emotions.

“This small space is more intimate, with a lot more candles,” Gafford Asmus said.

Besides this new style of worship, RLC offers other religious outlets throughout every week, including Bible studies, Campus Worship, Catholic Mass, church outreach groups, and Community Ministry Team. Still, Davis encourages students to attend the newest addition to the RLC roster.

“People should come and encounter it (Taize),” Davis said. “In our spiritual life, it’s important to find what makes you feel closer to God. People should come and feel welcomed. Christ is preached, but not forced.”

Even though Simpson College is a Methodist College, the administration embraces diversity. Additionally, RLC has increased efforts to reach students who practice other religions. Junior Anne Alesch, who serves as assistant of interfaith relations, is playing a particular role in this outreach.

“My position works with every single religion, including all the major ones such as Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism,” Alesch said. “I’m present to make sure that everyone’s religion is properly represented and that they have a place to worship and learn here at Simpson.”

Religious education and tolerance is also key to acceptance.

“Another part of my job is to promote general religious understanding and respect,” Alesch said. “So many wars and fights are being fought in the name of religion. With groups like Interfaith, we strive to create an environment that educates people about other people’s religions.”

Gafford Asmus said that if there’s something that students would like to have happen in RLC they can come and talk to her because they’re always willing to try new things.

“It’s a time to come in a busy week and sit and be silent,” Davis said. “As college students we don’t have time to sit and be still.”

Campus worship welcomes students anytime. Students can come once to check it out and never come again, they can attend when it fits in their schedules or they can be regular participants.