Thousands of Auburn students gathered in Neville Arena Tuesday night for an event called "Unite."
The event was dedicated to worship and giving messages to Auburn students seeking to grow their faith in God or who were curious about Christianity. The event's goal was to unite the Christian community of Auburn under one roof to worship God.
Worship in Neville Arena wasn't the only thing that happened Tuesday night. Towards the end of the service, Jennie Allen, one of the main speakers for the event, ran on stage announcing that students had come forward asking to be baptized.
Jeremy Napier, the chaplain for the Auburn men's basketball team, described the scene.
"I've been a part of just planning this event and man, the Lord just took it from there and we ended up at the Red Barn," Napier said. "It was not planned at all. I think this was a spontaneous decision at the very end where we just said 'let's go for it.'"
Napier said that he personally baptized over 20 students, and believes that over 100 people were baptized overall.
A crowd of hundreds of students surrounded the lake at the Red Barn, cheering and singing as people were baptized one by one.
"We serve an awesome God who can do amazing things. My prayer obviously is that all these decisions were genuine decisions and heart change. It's awesome to do it in this environment, but now is where things get tough," Napier said.
Napier encourages the people who got baptized to get plugged into a local church where they can be discipled, have accountability and have people pour into them.
Unite Auburn is an organization dedicated to college students uniting to lift up the name of Jesus. Tonya Prewett, wife of assistant basketball coach Chad Prewett, spearheaded the event and put it together in just six weeks.
Allen and Jonathan Pokluda were the main speakers, and Passion Music led the worship at the beginning and end of the night.
Pokluda covered the topics surrounding sexual purity and Allen spoke on being an ambassador for Christ.
Pokluda is a best-selling author of “Becoming Something” and a pastor from Harris Creek Baptist church in Waco, Texas. He is also known for creating The Porch ministry, a weekly gathering of young adults in Dallas.
Allen is a New York Times best-selling author, Bible teacher, "IF:Gathering” founder – which is an event dedicated to forming a discipleship ministry for women in the church – and host of the “Made for This” podcast.
Virginia Winsome, freshman in interior design, said she is excited for Unite because she had already seen Passion perform.
“I went to Passion in January so I’m really excited to hear Passion City music again and the speakers,” Winsome said.
Passion Music was not the only element of Passion last January that was brought into the gathering. Towards the end of her message, Allen urged students to pair up and confess their sins to each other just like she had encouraged them to do at the conference.
Peyton Sumrell, freshman in business, said she was most excited to see all the girls in her sorority and friends worship on campus and watch how Auburn supports the ministry.
“That was part of the reason I came to Auburn, so I’m excited to see that come to life,” Sumrell said.
“Some of you came in tonight and wanted to know the will of God tonight. If you know the word of God, will you follow it?” Pokluda asked the audience.
Pokluda said that if Jesus died for the sins of all, then he has a greater plan and purpose for all who abide in his will.
"He’s the single most polarizing person in history because he rose three days later. I found something better in Jesus, and I found something greater in Jesus,” Pokluda said.
Allen opened by heaping praise on Auburn for the stories she had heard about local churches and ministries and the impact they were having on the student body and community.
“God is doing something on Auburn's campus: 80% of pledge classes are coming together to praise, parking lots are full at churches," Allen said. "We are here to call you to take your place in the story of God in 2023."
Allen then brought the Auburn University Men's Basketball team onstage to help illustrate a point she wanted to show the audience rather than tell them. Basketball center Dylan Cardwell walked onstage blindfolded, and Allen asked the audience to name their sins and struggles, each of which were attributed to another basketball player onstage. Each of the players surrounding Cardwell then pretended to attack him as he stood blindfolded, yet Allen instructed him to remove the blindfold and fight back, showing that when Christians can see their sin, they can finally fight back.
Several notable players and coaches promoted the event through social media including Cardwell, quarterback Payton Thorne, football coach Hugh Freeze and basketball coach Bruce Pearl.
"Our Students, that's what makes Auburn Special! Deliverance, Freedom and Building stronger relationships with God while becoming an Auburn Man or Woman! Doesn't get better than this! Let's UNITE," Pearl tweeted.
Caroline Kambeitz, junior in public relations, said, "full of energy through the whole night" and "filled with God's presence the entire time.”
"The service led me to want to follow God more in my spiritual journey. The worship with Passion band – you could feel God moving through the entire room,” Kambeitz said.
Allen left a message for Auburn students who wanted the presence of God to remain on Auburn's campus.
“When people want God, God shows up. Auburn my question for you is, do you want God? God has made you ambassadors for him," Allen said.
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Kristen is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in business. She has been with The Plainsman since her freshman year serving as a sports writer, podcast editor and host, and most recently, operations managing editor. Carr is currently the editor in chief of The Auburn Plainsman.