COLUMBIA — At 7 a.m. Wednesday near the flag pole outside Rock Bridge High School Kirk Backus tuned his guitar and began singing "You Alone Are God." He had come to gather with fellow students to pray as part of See You at the Pole, an annual prayer gathering, but he was uncertain how many of his classmates would join him.
By 7:15 a.m. 20 students had gathered and were singing worship songs as Backus played the guitar. By 7:30 a.m., a total of 30 students formed smaller groups to pray for their school, classmates and teachers.
See You at the Pole is a student-led and student-initiated gathering for prayer at schools' flag poles held nationally and internationally on the fourth Wednesday of September. The event began in 1990 in a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas and drew more than 2 million teenagers in 2007.
"Usually at a public school you do not get the opportunity to get together with other Christians. See You at the Pole is great because you can get to know others who share your faith and encourage one another," said senior Jordan Schrier.
Senior Whitney Hamilton, a leader in the school's chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, FCA, shared a devotional centering on connection, the theme for this year's See You at the Pole.
Hamilton discussed the context of the theme verse, 1 Samuel 3:10, an Old Testament passage where the prophet Samuel responds to God's call saying, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." Hamilton then encouraged her fellow students to connect with one another and God, both in their time of prayer that morning and beyond.
Leaders from FCA publicized the event and encouraged their friends to come, sending out text messages the morning of to remind them. Other students, such as Schrier, who were unaffiliated with FCA came as they had in past years or joined the group when they saw the gathering.
Although in past years students have also gathered at Hickman High School for See You at the Pole, no one did so on Wednesday morning.
Grace Bible Church, 601 Blue Ridge Road, is inviting students to further this connection of Christians in individuals schools through a Saw You at the Pole event at 7 p.m. tonight. The event will feature crowd games, a performance by student band 1KH and a talk by Grace's youth pastor, Conrad Hake.