Courtesy of Christy Lau

An estimated 1,000 people, including Yale students, New Haveners and out-of-town guests, gathered on the New Haven Green at 5 p.m. last Wednesday for a time of Christian prayer and worship. 

The Yalies led worship from a stage facing Phelps Gate; behind them stood the three churches on the New Haven Green. The event, called “Rekindle,” was organized by Yale students in collaboration with Times Square Church in New York City. The church provided lighting, sound equipment, instruments and some musicians. Summit International School of Ministry, the Bible college associated with Times Square Church, led the second set of worship music. Yale students led the first and third sets of worship, organized outreach on campus and handled logistics for hosting the event. 

The night began with a set of worship songs led by Yale students, followed by a testimony from Christy Lau ’25, another worship set and a brief message from Pastor Carter Conlon of Times Square Church. 

“Prayer is so important and so powerful because we’re not just saying the right words for the sake of saying the right words, but we actually believe that we’re talking to a living breathing God,” said Han Choi ’24, who helped plan the event. 

Planning for the event began in January when Jeff Walsh, ministry director of the Yale undergraduate Christian fellowship Christian Union Lux, was watching a live stream of Times Square Church’s weekly worldwide prayer meeting. Times Square Church is located in New York City, but the weekly meeting is broadcast to thousands of people across 211 countries. During the live stream, Conlon offered to bring the prayer meeting to listeners; Walsh then proposed to students that they invite Times Square Church to host an event at Yale. 

“Having people from outside of the University — hundreds of them — coming, saying, ‘I am here to pray for you, I’m here to encourage you,’” said Luke Bell ‘23, one of the organizers of the event. “We thought that would be a tremendous encouragement, and very uplifting to the students.” 

The event organizers originally envisioned holding the event on Old Campus so that other Yale students, who may not have experienced Christian prayer or worship, could see or participate. But, only a week before the event, Yale administrators realized that they had “overlooked a policy regarding sound amplification on Old Campus,” Bell said, and asked Rekindle’s organizers to find a new venue.

I think it was really important to have the event on the New Haven Green, too, right in between Old Campus and the rest of the New Haven community,” Amara Mgbeike SPH ’23, who led the third set of worship, told the News. “To worship God is a privilege. To be able to gather and express our worship in public — but also to have a personal relationship with the God of the universe and give reverence to Him.”

Even though the event was held on the New Haven Green, Yale was a major focus of the group’s prayers. 

The Rekindle organizers collected anonymous, written prayer requests from students — many of whom requested prayer over mental health. Both student leaders and TSC members prayed over students with mental health issues.

“To be honest, I considered not going at all because I was dealing with mental health issues the day of and the day before Rekindle,” Maddie Bartels ’24 told the News. 

Ultimately, she said she decided to go to the event not despite how she was feeling, but because of it. When she arrived, she said she felt comforted by “worship[ing] with people of all ages.”

“I’ve been so used to living out my faith in a college context, so it was really wonderful to be singing next to people both a lot older and a lot younger than I was,” Bartels said. “I definitely felt God’s presence during the night and for the entire three hours, I sang to him without even remembering the suffering I had gone through that morning and the night before.”

Phelps Gate is located at 344 College Street. 

Amelia Dilworth is a sophomore in Branford College.