New service “Oasis” in desert of student life

Crystal Hohenthaner

Crystal Hohenthaner

Oasis, a new ministry for college students in the Brookings area, offers a time and place for students to spiritually connect and unwind.

Sunday nights at 8 p.m. the service is held at Brookings Wesleyan Church’s (BWC) Fellowship Hall. To prepare for the service each week the hall is decorated with candles, soft lighting, fabric tablecloths and draperies to create a peaceful homey mood. In fact, early comers can even snag seats on a few couches in the hall. Students who attend the service describe it as comfy and peaceful.

The man behind the scenes of Oasis, Rick Wipf, BWC’s college pastor, says, “Oasis is basically designed to be a place of rest, renewal and refreshment. You can come after a busy week and rest in god’s presence.”

The service consists of prayer and worship as well as a short devotional. Wipf describes the service as a blend of church styles.

“We have a lot of contemporary stuff but we also include hymns and choruses,” Wipf says.

The service also incorporates creeds and serves communion once a month.

“I would call it a next-gen type of service,” Wipf says.

The first Oasis service was help Jan. 23, but Wipf says the idea for the service has been in the works for a long time.

“The first time I had the idea was last May,” he says. “I was feeling like we needed to expand our college services.”

Over the summer others started to “catch the vision” for Wipf’s idea. Much of the eight months of planning was spent in prayer. Wipf was also concerned about finding talented and spiritually strong band members.

“So much of Oasis is singing and worship so they [the band] had to be good,” Wipf says. “It was a lot easier to find the band than I thought it would be.”

The major element of the service, the devotionals, required quite a bit of thought as well. The topics of the devotionals are meant to personally apply the messages BWC covers in their Sunday Morning Services. The devotionals are also connected to the Oasis prayer time.

“It’s kind of like here’s some stuff to think about and pray about,” Wipf says.

Evan Delaney, an integral part of Oasis’ “talented” band, is freshman music major from Brookings.

“As worship leader, I organize the music and prayer time and I decide who plays and sings when,” Delaney says.

Delaney’s goal for the music is to help people to establish a worshipful connection with God.

“Oasis services are about an hour-long gathering, to just help people release some of the tensions of the day or week relating to school, work relationships, and just basically whatever can build up bog down the mind,” Delaney says. “It is meant to rebuild and refresh.”

The worship group is comprised of college age individuals from all of the out reach groups on campus including, Navigators, Campus Crusade and InterVarsity.

Michelle Westerbur, a junior parks management major from Ihlen, Minn., says she likes the worship but not just because of the band.

“Even though the band does a fantastic job,” Westerbur says. ‘I like the mix of prayer and worship that makes for a really restful environment.”

Westerbur uses Oasis as a escape from the difficulties of college life.

“If you’re really overloaded,” she says, “it’s a good retreat and a good place to drop your burdens and meet with God.”

For Paisley Stewart, a sophomore early childhood education major from Brookings, Oasis is an encouragement.

“The atmosphere is a really laid back a peaceful setting,” Stewart says. “You are able to worship the way you want to whether that’s sitting and bowing or if you want to stand up and raise your hands. Oasis is a good time to concentrate and focus on God.”

#1.885340:1311665552.jpg:Oasis.jpg:During practice graduate student Alaina Burt closes her eyes in worships as she plays the bass for OasisĀ“ praise band.: