For some, a dusty storage basement would never be seen as anything other than a place to stack boxes of clutter. But for junior Ben Patzlaff, the basement of Ramaker Student Center establishes the ideal aesthetic for students to come together on a weeknight to worship and pray.
Patzlaff wanted to introduce a new element to an already vibrant campus worship community.
In an attempt to provide another worship opportunity for the campus, Patzlaff came up with the idea of inhabiting the Ramaker basement on Thursday evenings. However, he recognizes this is not completely an original idea.
“Other things like this exist so this isn’t some radically new idea,” Patzlaff said. “But I think it came from going to things like Praise and Worship, and wanting another time of worship that is a bit less structured.”
The time of worship is dimly-lit with an unplugged acoustic worship set. Students can lay, sit or stand around assorted area rugs while they fill the concrete room with sounds of singing and praying.
“It’s just an hour of worship with time of meditation, silent reflection and group prayer,” Patzlaff said. “I wanted to provide a relaxed and stripped-down time with room for silence and reflection.”
Patzlaff, a musician himself, as well as a past member of P&W and chapel worship teams, wanted to provide a worship experience to complement those already offered. In addition to P&W, this provides yet another opportunity to worship together with others in a different way.
“I see it as a way to fill a space where there is a need,” Patzlaff said. For Patzlaff, college is a time of taking in so much information, and there is often not ample time to process and reflect on how learning may impact students’ lives.
“We get so much thrown at us in college but we don’t have much time to think about it,” Patzlaff said. “In class and in chapel we are taught so much, and this is a space to pause in the middle of the week to think about all the things we are taught.”
By allowing a relaxed time of reflection with quiet worship, low light and fellowship with one another, Patzlaff hopes people will have a space to process the college experience as well as look for encouragement or support if they need it.
“I want it to be a space where people feel comfortable in the middle of worship to turn to the people next to them and say they need prayer for something,” Patzlaff said.
Worship is Thursday evenings at 10:05 p.m., come and go as students wish.
“I don’t want people to feel like they have to come to be a good Christian,” Patzlaff said. “But I want it to be there for people who need it. Not to listen to any specific person but to listen to themselves.”