By Kara Witherow, Editor
Lindsey Conroy, 15, loves seeing fellow believers as she walks through the halls of Columbus High School. She may not know all of their names and they don’t all attend the same church, but they are connected through a shared faith and, for many, through 3rd Night.
A community-wide worship service for junior high, high school, and college students, 3rd Night was conceived by leaders from The Ridge and is led by five Columbus-area United Methodist church leaders.
“It’s a place where students can worship, learn, and connect with other Christians,” said Jami Conroy, director of education for The Ridge, a United Methodist congregation in Columbus.
More than 300 students attended the first 3rd Night worship service, held on the third Sunday evening in September 2016. When it was announced that the goal of 300 students in attendance had been reached, they witnessed The Ridge’s lead pastor, Rev. Jimmy McIlrath, receive a Mohawk haircut on stage.
Seven months in, nine area congregations and youth groups regularly participate in the monthly worship service, with 150 to 250 students regularly attending.
The music is a huge draw, Jami Conroy says, noting that many youth groups aren’t large enough to have their own band. Leaders also work hard to teach relevant lessons, engage students in their walk with Christ, and plan fun games and activities.
“We try to meet the students where they are,” she said. “And it’s like a field trip for their youth group. It’s something different that they can look forward to once a month.”
Seeing a fellow student at 3rd Night makes it easier to have a conversation about faith the next day at school, they say.
“It’s really great to know that there are other people who believe what you believe and who will stand up for you and what you believe,” Lindsey Conroy said. “It’s really amazing.”