Faith on Lumpkin: Baptist Collegiate Worship Team Aims to Praise, Encourage

Editor’s note: Faith on Lumpkin is a series produced by students in the fall 2023 Religion Reporting class. They were embedded with four student religious groups — UGA BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries), Christus Victor Lutheran Church and Student Center, the Presbyterian Student Center and the Episcopal Campus Ministry — with physical locations on Lumpkin Street to learn about the faith, meet student and non-student leaders, identify newsworthy stories, and ultimately produce a multiplatform feature story from their ongoing coverage.

 

The BCM worship team leads the group’s gathering on a Monday night in November 2023. (Photo/Jessica Moore)

“I’m fighting a battle, you’ve already won” echoes through the lowest level of Baptist Collegiate Ministries. Over 10 singers and musicians fill the stage as a light crew manipulates spotlights. Most of the crowd — more than 150 University of Georgia students — raise their hands and close their eyes as Audrey Kittila sings “You’ve Already Won” by Shane & Shane.

Makenna Tyson sings “You’ve Already Won” alongside Audrey Kittila. The song signifies “a spiritual battle to trust in God’s grace for our salvation.”

This isn’t how many UGA students would choose to spend their Monday night. But for BCM members, this is their routine at the start of the week. 

Kittila and Ryan Perry, both UGA seniors, have been involved in music since a young age and brought their talents to BCM’s worship team. 

The group is involved in key moments in the weekly gatherings and reflects a core set of values, which are to “give God praise, develop passionate and competent worship leaders and create a worship community that brings together talented college leaders across different churches,” Kittila said. 

Perry serves as the vice president of prayer and worship, where he helps others understand prayer at BCM and in the community. 

“I mean, I think the entire purpose of worship, whether it’s here at BCM, whether it’s at a local church, whether it’s anywhere is to praise God for what he has done for us and his sacrifice of his son on the cross,” Perry said. 

The worship team consists of 29 people total and 10 to 11 people rotate on stage each week at Monday gatherings. Gatherings usually consist of over 150 attendees who come to watch and sing along with the worship team as well as listen to a message from Campus Minister Tommy Fountain. 

Kittila serves as a “worship co-catalyst” — a title that relates to her role leading the gathering in song — alongside senior Cason Crenshaw. She started singing in middle school.

“When I was in middle school, I felt the Lord calling me to worship ministry, and doing our youth ministry at my home church was a result of that,” Kittila said. 

When she arrived at UGA, she headed toward BCM.

“The day that I moved in was the day that I came here for the first time and just found a community here,” Kittila said.

Perry started learning about music in middle school and served on his high school youth worship team as well. Perry plays electric bass guitar for BCM; he taught himself that instrument in March. 

The team practices each Monday before the gathering. Kittila, Perry and many members of the worship team have frequent conversations to discuss the songs that they potentially perform at gatherings. Songs are from groups such as Elevation Worship, Maverick City Music, Passion, Hillsong Worship, and songwriters and singers such as Phil Wickham and Brandon Lake. 

For example, Perry says “See a Victory” by Elevation Worship, one of the songs in the rotation, is “a powerful reminder of the victory that we have in Jesus.”

“I’m a huge lyrics person,” Kittila said. “So for me, if the lyrics don’t make sense or align with the word of God, it is not a song that we will sing here.” 

Kittila said they have conversations about if they like a song musically, the words still may not theologically line up with their teachings and beliefs. 

“The emotions that I feel when I worship always go back to, kind of like, those core values that we talked about,” Perry said. “Maybe it’s a moment of conviction, where I realize man, I haven’t been thinking about this enough recently.” 

Kittila said God can “convict us in our quiet times” but sometimes she’s just “singing a song and the words hit (her) in a different way.”

“It’s, oh my goodness, I haven’t thought about that,” she said. “I haven’t considered how this is impacting my relationship with Christ, and it calls me to a place of continual repentance.”

Perry said worship can also lead him to a place of encouragement.

“It’s just a continued time of encouragement, of like, God has rescued us from our sins and … there’s nothing that I could do to deserve that and just the overwhelming, just thankfulness I have for that,” Perry said. 

Perry said the BCM worship team tries to appeal to the general college student while also remaining strong in their convictions.

“When you come here, you’re going to find something that most college students are probably looking for, but at the same time is still true to God’s word,” he said.

Jessica Moore and Karenia Murry are fourth-year students majoring in journalism.

 

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