'Revival' at Christian School Moves Off Campus After 2 Weeks of Continuous Prayer Overwhelms Ky. Town
After nearly two weeks of spontaneous and continuous worship, the "revival" at Asbury University in Kentucky had its last public service on Monday.
The outpouring of prayer began on Feb. 8 following a "regularly scheduled chapel service" at the Christian university.
"Students lingered to pray, worship, and share," University President Kevin J. Brown wrote in a statement. "They have not stopped and, moreover, have been joined far and wide by hungry men and women across the world."
Speaking with NBC News, Brown went so far as to say the morning service that day was "very ordinary" and "unremarkable." But what started with about a dozen students eventually grew until "something special," thanks in part to images of the worshiping going viral on TikTok.
"It has absolutely been social media that is the mechanism that people found out about this," Mark Whitworth, Asbury University's vice president of communications, told the outlet.
According to NBC News, a "spiritual revival" can refer to an influx of interest in the church, but that Christian revivals are historically marked by a mass of conversions and growth. Because of that, many — including the school itself — are using other words to officially describe what happened, including "outpouring."
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As the non-stop service grew in popularity, it began attracting people from all across the United States — and beyond.
"We just had some people arrive from Finland, from the Netherlands, they have been coming from all over the country," Abby Laud, communications director for Asbury University, told CBS and The CW affiliate WKYT-TV.
In the course of the two week-long event, tens of thousands of people visited the area, according to Fox station WHNS.
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However, for a town with a population of around 6,000 people, the sudden influx of people has also been difficult to deal with, according to WKYT-TV.
"It is overwhelming," Bobby Singh, who owns a nearby gas station, said of the crowds.
Over the weekend, the Wilmore Police Department urged people to "use EXTREME caution while traveling in the city."
"Parking is limited, however, please do not park in designated no-parking, fire lane, or handicap zones or in residential driveways or yards," police added. In a separate post, they noted that in addition to working to redirect traffic, signs on the highway encourage visitors to stream the service as "the event is at capacity."
"Thank you for your patience during this unprecedented event," they wrote.
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Over the weekend, school officials announced that due to safety concerns, public services on campus would end Monday.
"Our town's institutions here and our town's infrastructure, I just want to be clear, is just not in a place to absorb at this moment, the influx of the blessed guests that we have had come to Wilmore," the campus president said, according to the Courier Journal.
"We just do not have the infrastructure to support the guests that we're having come to Wilmore," Brown added.
In a statement released on Sunday, the school wrote that "beginning Tuesday, February 21, services available to the public will be held at another location in the central Kentucky area."
They will continue hosting evening services for students through Thursday, which will be live-streamed.
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Although the public services may be over, school officials have called what happened a unique, and "beautiful" event.
"Whether you call this a revival, a renewal, an awakening, or an outpouring, what we have experienced on our campus these last few weeks is unlike anything I've ever seen in my life," President Brown said in a video statement.
Back in 1970, a similar weeks-long worship event began after a morning chapel service at the school, which was then called Asbury College, according to the Lexington Herald Reacher.