Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UniteUS to bring night of worship to Coleman Coliseum

Courtesy of Isy Goodman

UniteUS will host a night of worship and fellowship for students at Unite Bama on Wednesday at Coleman Coliseum. 

The event will start at 7:30 p.m. with opening and closing worship sessions led by Passion Music, followed by speakers Jennie Allen, author and founder of IF:Gathering, and Jonathan “JP” Pokluda, who is the pastor of Harris Creek Baptist Church in Waco, Texas; an author; and the host of the podcast “Becoming Something.”

Tonya Prewett, founder and visionary of UniteUS, said the idea for the event started in January 2023, while she was mentoring college students in Auburn, Alabama, where her husband coaches basketball at the university. 

“It’s an organization that basically goes to college campuses and gathers students to lift the name of Jesus,” Prewett said.

After hearing students’ stories about battles with anxiety, suicidal thoughts and addiction, Prewett said she felt like she needed to do something to help. She said what started out as five students meeting with her at the football stadium to pray soon turned into 200 students, and on Sept. 12, 2023, Unite Auburn was held at Auburn University’s basketball arena.

“I just felt like it started at Auburn, but it wouldn’t stop at Auburn,” Prewett said. “I felt like there was a greater vision to take this to other college campuses … and eventually unite the nation.”

Prewett said thousands of students have come out to the Unite events at Auburn and Florida State University, and more than 5,000 are expected to come to future events, including Unite Bama and Unite Georgia. She said other students have contacted UniteUS, asking the organization to visit their campuses. 

One of the students who contacted Prewett was Grace Denning, a sophomore majoring in finance at FSU. 

Denning said she sent Prewett a message on Instagram after hearing about Unite Auburn. She said she worked with Prewett to create a team at FSU to fundraise, pray and prepare for the event, which was held on Feb. 15.

Denning said the experience was completely overwhelming as she witnessed students, from what she described as a major party school, come together under one roof to worship Jesus. 

“We ended up having hundreds of students walk forward to receive salvation,” Denning said. “And then almost 300 students got baptized in our Westcott Fountain, in the front of our campus.”

Denning said this was incredible since the Westcott Fountain is where students get thrown after getting drunk on their 21st birthday.

Prewett said they never planned for baptisms to become a part of the event, but spontaneous baptisms have happened at both Auburn and FSU. She said the event is scheduled to end around 10:30 p.m. but the previous ones ended around midnight since students asked to be baptized. 

UniteUS has a threefold goal for students who attend the worship nights. Prewett said the goal includes salvation for the unbeliever, freedom for anyone who is feeling hopeless, and connection for students to get plugged in with local churches. 

Makenzie Watlington, a senior majoring in kinesiology, said she attended Unite FSU and is now on the leadership team for Unite Bama. She said she has helped spread the word, prayed for the event and met with potential donors. 

“It’s been an honor,” Watlington said. “It’s also just shown me how truly small I am and how big our God is.”

Watlington said Unite Bama isn’t just for students on the University’s campus, but for the whole state. She said she has been in charge of reaching out to students and leaders at Samford University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. 

Both Prewett and Denning said the testimonies of students who have been to Unite events have been life-changing. Prewett said she’s heard stories of students who have faced addiction and are recovering and students who experienced suicidal thoughts who are now leading within their churches. 

“We don’t want to offer a one-night event and then just walk away,” Prewett said. “We want to get you plugged in where there’s lifelong discipleship, either within a campus ministry or a local church.”

Both Prewett and Denning said it was important to see students from different walks of life, genders and denominations unite to worship Jesus. 

“Watching all of these people unite under the name of Jesus and realizing, like, this is really what heaven is going to look like one day,” Denning said. “And I think that was just the most special thing ever.” 

Prewett said the event is free to attend and doors will open at 6:30 p.m. She said students can register to attend online.

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