By Lori McDonald and Mitchell Banks | The Tribune
Rainy weather didn’t dampen the spirit of students gathered together Wednesday morning at local schools for the annual See You at the Pole event.
Instead of circling the flagpole, Seymour Middle School students formed a large circle in the gymnasium around 7:30 a.m., while members of Brownstown Central High School’s Christian Club gathered around a flagpole set up on the stage of the school’s auditorium at 7 a.m. A few faculty members also joined the BCHS students.
At the middle school, the student-led program kicked off with around 22 students mostly with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, while several adults listened to the students read Bible verses and pray. Among the adults present was SMS teacher and FCA sponsor Mindy Clay.
“This is a national event that is student-run and student-organized,” Clay said. “Today, they are praying for the administration, the government, teachers, students and the community.”
Other adults at the event were FCA helpers Janice Axsom, Kathleen Deaton and Sharon Hudson, all assistants at the middle school. Kyle Kaminski, youth pastor from Calvary Baptist Church in Seymour, also was there.
“We started out with about 10 FCA students at the beginning of the year, and now, we’re up to about 25,” Axsom said. “I like the way Mindy has it set up, just having the kids take care of devotions and everything, and sometimes, she’ll have games for them to play.”
Kaminski said he had attended See You at the Pole at Seymour High School in the past, but this was his first time at the middle school.
“I think this is great, especially because they’re all coming from different churches in the area, that they can all come together this early in the morning to pray,” he said. “Prayer is one of the most effective tools we have in these times, and I’m encouraged by this.”
The Rev. Jeremy Myers of First Baptist Church in Seymour played some praise songs on his guitars and sang.
“Just Pray” James 4:10 was this year’s theme.
Lyndsey Greenawalt, one of the FCA leaders, started off the event by reading 1 Timothy 2:1-4 and Philippians 4:6-7.
“I think sometimes, songs are a way to touch people’s hearts, the way music makes it feel more alive,” Greenawalt said. “It can be confusing for a new person to Jesus to understand, but I think music can really help that.”
Lauren Dowell prayed for the students to do well in school and for them to pay attention in class. She also prayed for those who don’t have religious freedoms.
Micah Jablonski prayed for government, specifically for the president and vice president. Then Caleb Jablonski read Scriptures from 1 John 5: 14-15, and Charlie Bruce read James 4:10 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
Praying for the administration and for teachers was Anna Obermeyer.
“I think prayer is really important, especially with everything we’re going through right now with COVID,” she said. “A lot of people are needing help, and God can help them.”
FCA meets at the middle school at 7:30 a.m. Wednesdays.
Senior Morgan Branaman started Brownstown’s ceremony by reading James 4:10, which reads, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
Following prayer, senior Taylor Loudermilk talked more about what See You at the Pole, how it started and its significance.
She said the event started in 1990 when a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas, came together for a Disciple Now weekend youth retreat.
When the Texas students felt compelled to pray for their friends, they went to school flagpoles and prayed for friends, schools and leaders.
Loudermilk said more than 2 million students from all 50 states and more than 20 countries participate in the event.
“Whether you stand by yourself or among hundreds, know that you are a part of a vast, united student-led movement of prayer, for your prayers are a part of God’s work on our campus, in our town, our country and our world,” she said.
Christian Club members took turns reading verses, while others prayed silently.
The verses read were Colossians 4:2-3, Philippians 4:5-7 and Mark 11:24-25.
Branaman said she came across John 13:7 earlier in the week and felt compelled to read it to everyone because of how much she connected to it.
The verse says, “Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later, you will understand.’”
“As students right now, a lot of us are dealing with school and may be under a lot of stresses, and I love that verse because no matter how stressed out we are right now, in the future, we’ll be able to see (our effort) pay off and everything is going to work out for the greater good as long as God is in our sights,” Branaman said.
Jeff Stice, head custodian at BCHS, said he thought it was nice of the students to offer people an opportunity to go to church that morning through service.
“You never know who you’re going to touch by inviting them out,” he said.
He said he wanted to attend the event because a friend of his who had encouraged him to go to church 17 years ago recently died.
Encouraging every day for Stice to go to church, including Saturdays, the friend finally got a surprise on Easter Sunday when his wish was answered.
“On Easter Sunday, I surprised him. It has been 17 years ago, and today, I’m still into church,” Stice said.
Everyone prayed together after Stice spoke, and people then split off into groups to talk to each other and pray about what was on their mind.
Before everyone entered the high school to begin their school day, the songs “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin and “180” by Jordan Feliz were played while everyone listened to the messages of the music around the flagpole.