PLYMOUTH — See You at the Pole (SYATP), a global day of student-led prayer, began in the 1990s. During the event, which always occurs the fourth Wednesday in September, students gather at their school’s flagpole before the day begins to pray for their school, city, and nation.
Marshall County youth groups took SYATP a step further this year. Seven area youth groups converged for a See You After the Pole rally Wednesday night. The rally, held in a parking lot across from Oliver Ford, attracted hundreds of students. They were there to enjoy free food, inflatables, music provided by one of the church’s band, and special speaker Trevor Heyd.
Heyd, an extreme skateboarder fresh off a tour in New York, entertained the teens with beatboxing and humorous stories before getting to his main point.
“I’m just a normal guy, and I’m here to give you a message of love,” said Heyd. “We’re all created to love something. What is it tonight that you love?”
Heyd quickly gained the crowd’s respect after he informed them that he didn’t care what they thought about him — he just wanted them to know that God loves them and that they were the center of God’s universe.
“I’m not afraid of you guys,” said Heyd. “I don’t even know you guys. I don’t care what you think about me. When people say ‘God loves you,’ you just swallow it down without really chewing on it.”
Dropping the microphone and using just his voice, Heyd enunciated, “God. Loves. You.”
The previously noisy group quieted down as Heyd continued to speak, his passion on the subject evident.
Youth leaders of the groups represented at the event said that they hope the night creates connections between the teens that will continue.
“When you have a bunch of teens come together it creates community,” said New Song Community Church youth pastor Tony Mercer. “When we come together we can accomplish more things.”
“(See You After the Pole) is a good way to remind the kids that our youth group isn’t the only youth group,” said Nate Crawford, Trinity United Methodist Church. “It’s not the only place God works.”
Crawford said that the seven churches shared “the costs and the energy” of the event, which included footing the bill for food and drinks. Each youth group brought their own resources to the table, said Crawford. The night’s activities were the first official event put on by the Marshall County Youth Ministry Association, which is what the seven churches are calling themselves. The goal is to create a unified group of youth teams across the county, rather than having each church focus solely on their own youth group.
Bob Beck, head of Youth for Christ in Marshall, Fulton, and Kosciusko counties, said that he hopes the leaders of area youth groups will be able to organize further community events in the future.
“We’re hoping to start pulling some youth groups from Bremen, Argos, (and other towns)” said Beck. “That’s why we are calling it the Marshall County Youth Ministry Association. There are a lot of kids out there.”
He said that students need to see that others their age share their values.
Autumn Ganser, a junior at Foundations Christian School in Plymouth, said that praying around the flagpole with other students was a memorable experience for her — although she was tired from waking up earlier than usual, she said that she felt instantly energized when she saw how many students had gathered around the flagpole at PHS.
“It was great to see the unity,” said Ganser. “It was good to know that you’re not in the fight alone.”
Church of the Heartland youth leader Chris Miller said that the night was a great example of what the Marshall County Youth Ministry Association could accomplish.
“I thought it was awesome to see seven churches come together for the same purpose,” said Miller. “It was an awesome night.”